By Emily Folk
Working in agriculture means you live your life by the weather. You need moisture to grow crops and hydrate animals. If it’s too hot or too cold, the crops and animals will suffer, so the hope is the weather will stay just right. However, since we don’t live in a perfect world, farms are often hit with adverse weather.
While storms are often detrimental and cause damage, there are ways to stay ready for the worst. Below are some tips to ensure that you keep your farm prepared for hurricane season.
1. Maintain Your Farm Buildings
Throughout the year, check your home, barn and other outbuildings for any signs of disrepair. If you have loose boards or shingles, repair them so that they don’t become flying hazards during a storm. These can cause serious injury, but they can also let water into the building that can cause flooding or other damage.
You’ll also need to make sure all buildings are structurally sound and won’t blow over in high winds. This is a potentially deadly issue. If there are problems, take the time to correct them, so disaster doesn't strike during a storm.
You’ll also need to keep extra nails, screws and boarding materials on hand to board up or repair buildings that get damaged in a storm. Keep these stored in an area where they will not become impacted by flooding or other weather conditions.
2. Keep a Supply of Emergency Fuel
A severe storm may cause you to lose power. Having a backup generator and an emergency supply of fuel will allow you to keep your farm up and running. It’s possible that you can save money by having emergency fuel preparation ready ahead of time. This will also ensure that you have the supply and amount you need to take care of your family, crops and livestock.
3. Designate a Safe Place for You and Your Livestock
Your livelihood no doubt depends on having livestock, and keeping them safe and healthy during a storm is of utmost importance. If you have enough warning that a storm is approaching, get your animals to their safe place. If they are large creatures such as cows or horses, setting them loose in a pasture is your best option. Keep in mind that the area needs to be hilly, or have artificial hills added so that they can stay out of floods should they occur.
If you have chickens or smaller animals, they need to stay in a secure building. Make sure their enclosure is structurally sound and well-ventilated. Ensure that your animals have a fresh source of water so they don’t ingest contaminants that could make them sick or kill them.
During hurricanes, it’s essential that you and your family have a safe place to go to survive the storm. Make sure you also have a fresh supply of water and food that can’t get contaminated, blankets and candles, as well as extra batteries for your flashlights and radio.
4. Be Prepared for Injuries
Anything is possible during a hurricane, including injury — to you, your family and your animals. Make sure you have medications and a first aid kit to take care of any issues that might arise. After the storm has passed, you can ensure that all people and livestock are safe and uninjured.
Other ways to reduce the possibility of injury during a storm is to make sure your equipment is tied down or covered to prevent it from getting loose. After the storm, you’ll need to check your property for foreign objects, flooding, damaged buildings and fences and stray animals — including wildlife and livestock from other farms. Remove what you can and fix damages as soon as possible — especially to fences — to ensure that your animals don’t wander and remain safe.
Always Be Ready for an Emergency
Hurricanes and inclement weather are part of life. By being prepared and fully stocked with supplies, you can reduce the amount of damage that occurs to your property, crops and livestock and ready if an emergency arises.
Emily is a sustainability writer and avid gardener. You can read more of her work on her site, Conservation Folks, where she writes about helping tomorrow’s planet today.