Well, it’s storm season again. We’ve been battening down the hatches and tying up the loose strings around here. I know it’s serious, but I actually kinda enjoy the preliminary work to stormy days. Our kids have learned enough over the years that when I come home and say “there’s a storm coming, everyone get boots on to help get ready” they really jump up and get helpful.
Everyone throws their boots on and gets down to business. It’s a real team effort. I like those moments.
What does storm prep look like around here?
Well, we like to have everyone close to the house, if possible. This week we moved the sheep into the back field right by the house because we’re getting ready to worm and trim hooves anyway. We’re also looking to see that no one is in the lowest spots on the farm and that no one is in a field with a really unsecured shelter. Pretty much everything is light and mobile around here. They provide shade and cover from the rain, but they aren’t going to be secure in 40-60 mph winds.
We have a run-in barn that is pretty secure. It takes the pick up truck to move it every year–so nothing less than a tornado is going to pick it up. And we have an open-ended carport that has been reinforced with fence poles and is pretty secure. (You can see the edge of it on the left-hand side of that picture up there.) These two are connected in the field closest to the house, so this is where we shelter the big animals for any major storm events.
With the chickens and ducks, the main goal is to make sure that everyone is securely in their pens (I did yet more patching on the chicken pen yesterday!) and that none of the pens are in a low spot that’s going to get too soggy. If the chicks were smaller, they would be in the brooder house, secure in the hay-shed.
We move the poultry pens pretty much every day, to a clean, grassy spot. Before a storm, we move them to a brand new spot as close to the start of the storm as possible (even if we just did it a few hours ago) because they might be there for a couple days and it’s going to be a mess before it’s all over. After the storm, moving them again is a top priority!
We also feed everyone as close to the storm as we can because there’s no need to go out in pouring rain and 60 mph winds to feed up–no one is going to come out to eat! We just wait until the event eases off.
With the layer house, we make sure their large food bucket and water-er are clean and filled and the chickens are closed up in the house, out of their little yard. Their feeder and water-er could actually hold them over for 5-6 days if necessary. We bed up all the nesting boxes and put fresh bedding on the floor in case they’re in there for several days.
Animals are hardest on the fields when the soil is wet, so any way we can managed to contain the animals until things dry out will save damage to the fields and grass. The sheep and cows will stay on “sacrifice” fields by the house until the main sogginess dries off to save our big fields. The layers will stay in their house for a few days and then we’ll move it to a fresh spot before we set up their little yard and let them out again.
The “chicken tractor” pens are the hardest because they can’t really be moved very far and the impact of those animals it heavy in that spot. Depending on how bad the storm is and how bad the damage is, sometimes we’ll move them and then throw a bit of extra grass seed on that spot to help heal it up.
The whole system is pretty resilient if you just give it time to “heal” after heavy impacts. After a tropical storm, the animals won’t be back in these spots for a month or more, hopefully.
Then, of course, there’s 30 minutes running around collecting up buckets and random baling twine and empty feed bags and any tools left out, and just generally make sure nothing is going to blow away. We get a lot of wind around here.
What does storm prep look like around your place?
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