Monday, August 22, 2011

Yes, We Floridians Put Luggage Tags on Our Horses

Why, you ask? Well, it's all part of the lovely South Floridian tradition that includes standing in Home Depot crying hysterically because they're out of tapcons, stealing batteries out of other people's shopping carts, stocking up on things like bleach and spray paint even though we're not quite sure why, and getting into fistfights over the last package of Ramen noodles at Publix.

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
If it looks like Irene is headed our way, all that will take place on Wednesday. So, for now, we wait. And stock up on hurricane essentials like peanut M&Ms and Oreos. Because you can never be too prepared. ;-)

OK, to end this post on a light note, here's a pic of how Salem looked when I arrived today:


Wendy said...

Interesting and entertaining post. I want to get some of those crayons so I can write "Bite Me!" on Ollie's butt... LOL!

Alana said...

Good luck guys! I am on the far east coast of NC, so we get a bit of hurricanes/madness here as well, but not as much as you guys!!!!!

eventer79 said...

Be safe, good luck, and I heartily encourage drawing on Salem! I used to live in Galveston for a bit, so I am all too familiar with storm madness.

SprinklerBandit said...


Reason #1435647846 I do not have any interest in being in Florida, ever. (Reason #1? Gators.) Hope you have lots and lots and m&ms and end up with absolutely no use for them.

I want a livestock crayon...

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Frizzle said...

Wendy, lol, go for it!

Alana, you need to stockpile M&Ms and buy some livestock crayons/luggage tags, too -- Irene might be headed your way. Boooo!

eventer, don't you worry -- Salem is going to be tagged and crayoned up the yin-yang!

SB, pssshhhhttt, hurricanes are really not so bad. We haven't had one since 2005, when then-Cat-1 Katrina hung out directly over my house for a few hours -- I never even lost cable, I watched Moulin Rouge! After Wilma (2005, also), I had no power for a week, but that's really not so bad. As for gators -- I've lived here 8 years and have only ever seen them at the Everglades and the gator park. If you're not dumb enough to hang out right at the edge of a canal, you're fine.

Alana said...

Yep, Irene is choosing me over you. I think I shall take my luck back, I may need it!

achieve1dream said...

Silly Salem.

That was really interesting.

It's funny when I was reading the description about the week before a hurricane I thought wow that's like when the tornado sirens go off. I'm sure glad ours don't last a week and then you wrote what I was thinking lol. Too funny.