It’s scary, what can happen to a horse farm in a hurricane. Having lived through several (many when I was managing horse farms and had my own horse) being prepared for your animal, for the farm and for the unforeseen problems ahead can really help. I can remember the year we had two back-to-back hurricanes; one of the two barns actually went three feet underwater!! Use these quick tips to help protect you, your animals your business and to keep all better prepared for the storm ahead.
- GET A GENERATOR - If you own a farm, or if you board your horses, make certain that the facility has a generator. The first thing to go is power and that means NO WATER, no running anything. This will enable you to water horses, turn on some lights and keep things going that must run. The generator will be your best friend. Trust me, it’s worth every penny.
- FILL YOUR GAS AND DIESEL TANKS - This is self-explanatory-no fuel + no running anything.
- FILL UP ALL AVAILABLE WATER BUKETS AND TROUGHS - (even if you have a generator) “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink”. I am old school and like water tanks and buckets vs. automatic waterer’s, so I always had things set-up on farms to hold water when the storms came our way. Regardless, be sure to fill up as much available items with drinking water as possible. You will be amazed at how much water you need when there is none readily available
- LABEL YOUR HORSES- When the storms were going to have very strong winds, I put ALL of the horses out in the biggest fields we had (or evacuated them to a safer facility). Every horse went out with an ankle strap containing their name, the farm, phone numbers, etc. in case something bad happened and they got off the farm. I never kept my horses in the barns in really bad storms. Why? You must think I am nuts?! I’ll tell you why… What do you do when the roof comes off the barn? This is a death sentence for your animals and something I just could not do (although many will disagree). Trust me, horses do what is natural: they put their butt to the wind/storm, put their heads down and they ride out the storms. They maybe got hungry from not eating for a while, but even my older and national championship horses and ponies all fared well in this manner. They had room to move and a way to get away from falling branches and the ability to go to a place they felt most comfortable. If you refuse to let them out and keep them in, please check the roof construction and learn about the MPH that your roof is able to withstand. If your facility is not great, move them to a safer facility.
- GET LOTS OF HAY – Although they may not eat much at all, hay will provide their gut with needed material and calories to help stay full and motile. Also, when it’s pouring down and 75 mph winds and windbursts, it will save you and them if they are simply starving and you just cannot go outside.
- GET ALL BOOKWORK IN ORDER – Things don’t work when there is no electricity, things go underwater, critical papers get lost or ruined. Make sure your farm’s bookwork and papers are in order (this means Coggins, bills, health certificates, invoices, shoeing, etc). The beauty of using a virtual bookkeeper is that all of your farm items can be stored off the farm and “in the cloud”, allowing all your documents to be safe and available.
- GET LOTS OF BATTERIES –Make sure to have a battery-powered radio and perhaps even a hard-line phone, (if the facility or you even have one to start). In today’s virtual world, the first thing to go is cellular service. Good, old-fashioned items that run on batteries can be a great savior in storms.
- PREPARE FOR THE WORST, HOPE FOR THE BEST – In all my years managing farms, this is the motto by which I lived and it saved me more than once. If you think something might happen (a certain tree coming down, a certain area of the farm getting flooded, etc) THINK AHEAD. You will be much happier to have prepared and not needed than to with you had once it’s too late.
Hopefully, these tips will help you, the horses and your farm survive the worst. Contact me at kismetbiz.site, or by calling: 352-229-4868 to help you get your books and critical paperwork stored safely “in the cloud”, or to discuss bookkeeping packages for your farm aimed at reducing waste and increasing efficiency. Stay safe!