Yup. It's hurricane season!
I'm just north of Homestead, the area that was hit by Hurricane Andrew (the strongest hurricane to ever hit the United States) in the 90s, so people down here completely lose their sh*t when there's a hurricane on the way. It's like living in a war zone -- there are miles-long lines at the gas stations, people run around in a frenzied delirium, attempting to stockpile everything necessary for the Armageddon, and there's an overall sense of panic that hangs over the city. It's like nothing I've ever experienced. For those of you in tornado-prone areas, it's sort of like your tornado sirens going off...for an entire week before the tornado arrives. Madness.
Right now, we have Hurricane Irene headed towards us. The National Hurricane Center has it hitting us as a probable Category 1 on Thursday, although it could very well pass us up and hit the west coast of Florida, or somewhere north of us on the east coast.
So, how do we horse owners prepare? Well, we stock up on hay, grain, etc. so we know our horses will have enough for at least a week after the storm. We clear the aisles of everything that's not bolted down, fill clean muck buckets with water and place them in each stall, bed the stalls down well, and make sure the horses have enough hay to keep them occupied.
If the storm is predicted as a Cat 2 or over, a lot of people will pack up and leave town with their horses, although that has to be done well in advance to ensure that you're not stuck on the road in the middle of the storm (there aren't a whole lot of roads to get out of here, as we can pretty much only go in one direction!).
The day before the storm hits, my friends and I will take every precaution to make sure our horses are safe, and that includes making sure they can be identified and returned to their proper owners if they get loose. Here's what we do:
- Put a leather or breakaway halter on the horse and attach to it a luggage tag that has the horse's name, farm name, farm address, farm phone #, and owner name & phone #
- Braid another luggage tag (with same info) into the horse's tail in case the halter comes off
- Some people will buy agricultural crayons (I'm not sure what their actual name is -- you use them to write on cows & other livestock) and write the same info onto the horse's neck, sides, butt, etc. And if you have any room left, some of us will also write things like "Please save me!" or "Hi!" or draw some kind of funny picture. Hey, ya gotta try and keep it light! :-)
- Take a picture of the horse/owner together and staple it to a copy of the Coggins along with any other identifying info (scars, tattoos, microchip info, etc.) and place it in a plastic baggie in a safe location in your home
OK, to end this post on a light note, here's a pic of how Salem looked when I arrived today: