Hurricane Irma is brewing in the ocean and slowly dragging herself to the East coast of the United States. Jose is right behind her.
But all of this takes place while Texas is still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Harvey, and the West is battling extreme fires.
So what does all of this tell us?
Well, if you are a homesteader, it says that we need to think of such things so we can be prepared for anything. My heart has been breaking this week as I have seen so many homesteaders on social media threads I follow, struggling to know what to do with their animals in such a time of crisis.
I don’t have all of the answers, but I have gathered a bit of information to hopefully help others that, unfortunately, will face such hardships as these at some point in the future. That way you can develop a plan and put it into action when natural disasters come knocking at your homestead’s door.
Prepping for Disaster as a Homesteader
Here are my tips for prepping your homestead for natural disaster:
1. Feel Out Your Area
Do you live in an area that is prone to flooding? Do you live in Tornado Alley? Are you near a place that has frequent earthquakes and mudslides?
Or do you live on the coast where hurricanes frequent you, or do you live where fires are something that your area is prone to?
First, realize that some of these natural disasters, you can’t do a lot with. If a mudslide comes your way, an earthquake, or a tornado, you can use some of these tips, but some of them may not work well for your area.
Then do what you can. Don’t feel bad if you don’t have a 100% guaranteed plan. I’m not sure anything is every 100%. You just have to do the best you can, knowing that you cared enough to give your homestead all you could.
Finally, hope for the best with that plan. In such large natural disasters as we have been facing over this past month alone, if you escape with you and your family’s lives and health, then you are doing as well as anyone could hope in such conditions.
2. Think About Your Layout
My family and I are still watching to see what Irma is going to bring to our area. We live near the mountains so it has been many years since a hurricane made it this far up from the coast, but we all remember what it was like when it did hit our area.
There were high winds, tornadoes, etc. Which has led me to look at our homestead’s layout. Will it work for such a storm that is possibly approaching our area?
Well, if you find that some of your animals could be relocated to a different area of your property and potentially have a greater means of protection, then consider doing it.
3. Secure Everything
Wherever you are, if you hear that some type of storm is rolling through with high winds, then you need to focus on securing everything. We have fastened down everything from our trampoline to our beehives in preparation for such high winds.
However, if you live closer to the coast, don’t forget to board up your windows, tape any building windows you may have, and to secure anything loose just lying around your property. The last thing you need is some large tool flying through the air.
4. Set Your Animals Free
This tip goes for most natural disasters. If you are facing high winds, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, or fires, then you will want to free your animals from their areas.
So the reason why is if you confine your chickens to their coop, and they can’t escape, then guess who will drown if the flood waters rise? Guess who will go flying if the coop is lifted off of the ground from the wind?
And guess who has no means of escaping from a fire if they are pinned inside?
Now, if you’ve watched the news, many people in the recent devastation of Hurricane Harvey left their cats and dogs kenneled on their porches when fleeing the rising waters. Thankfully, many were rescued. I know some people gave these residents a hard time.
But if you think, it is our natural instinct to want to put our animals in a safe location where we can retrieve them after the disaster is over. We fear if we cut them loose that something horrible will happen to them, or we’ll never find them again.
So I think a lot of these animals were left in those situations because that is our first instinct for their safety is to secure them.
But you have to think outside of the box on this. Set them free and let their animal instincts take over when disaster is weighing down on you and them.
5. Paint Your Info
Now, just because I said to set your animal’s free to give them a great chance of survival does not mean that you can’t attach your information to them. I have seen a lot of people recommending people with larger livestock should paint their information on the side of the animal with spray paint.
Also, it is said that this paint will not come off of them. That way when the disaster is over, if your animals survive, when rescuers find them, they can contact you so you can retrieve your animals.
So if you worry you’ll lose your beloved livestock forever, this might be a way to stop that from happening as long as they can survive the disaster.
6. Tattoo or Add a Bracelet
The spray paint works well for larger livestock, but what about smaller animals like chickens, ducks, rabbits, etc.?
Well, I’ve also seen that a lot of people are tattooing their animals with the owner’s information on them, or applying little wristlets to the birds’ feet that has the owner’s information on it.
So if you have smaller livestock that you are worried about being lost in a disaster, then consider these options.
7. Shelter in Higher Areas
There was one lady’s thread I read that absolutely broke my heart. She was bringing her chickens and ducks inside to weather the storm.
But she had a large pig and wasn’t sure what to do with it because, obviously, a 400 pound animal just won’t fit in an average sized home.
So if you find yourself in one of these situations, again, consider opening the animal’s pen so it has a chance to escape if needed.
But also consider moving it’s pen to the highest point of your property and then placing its house on stilts to help keep the waters out.
Again, this might put the animal at risk with high winds, but you just have to do the best you can in these situations.
8. Take Your Animals with You
If you have a natural disaster on hand that you actually have time to prepare for, then consider taking your animals with you.
Now, I realize this isn’t always possible so I’m not shaming anyone that doesn’t have this option.
But if you do, then consider packing up your animals and heading out with them. That way you can all be together and hopefully much safer than in the path of whatever natural disaster threatens your homestead.
Also, check the laws dealing with natural disasters because some special laws were issued after Hurricane Katrina came through the United States that now make it easier for people to evacuate with animals. Here is a resource for shelters that can help with the evacuation process.
So definitely be sure to know your rights in such situations.
What Other Homesteaders Can Do
If you are a homesteader that is currently out of harm’s way, then let’s start off by being thankful. Any of us can face a natural disaster at any time.
So if it isn’t you this time, be so thankful. Like I said, I’m in the mountain regions and still have had to think about so many things just because of our high risks of tornadoes and winds. These are not things we normally deal with.
Thankfully, I have a basement, but I realize in those circumstances there is only so much I can do for my animals. My heart is just breaking for those that have recently lost everything and those that are staring down losing everything.
But I’m also pleased to see the homesteading community coming together for fellow homesteaders in these situations.
So if you haven’t joined in, here are a few ways you can consider helping:
1. Giving Supplies
When the storms and fires have passed you still will have lots of people (and animals) displaced. They will need food, shelter, clothing, and feed for their animals too.
So consider getting in contact with your local animal shelter to see how you can donate food to the displaced animals. They should have information as many shelters will be taking in excess animals from such areas.
Also, there will be many organizations taking truckloads of supplies to hurricane and fire victims in the near future. Get on board and help fill those trucks!
2. Open Your Homestead
This option is one that has really made me so proud to be a homesteader. I follow a lot the social media homesteading groups.
And it was amazing to see how many people with excess land posted on these sites for people to bring their animals and seek shelter from the storm.
So if you are one of those homesteaders that has many acres, then consider letting people bring their campers, tents, and animals to your location to seek shelter until the storm has passed, and they can see what is left of the life they once knew.
3. Open Your Land for the Animals
Even if you don’t feel very comfortable with people camping on your property, if you have excess land, consider opening your property to those with pets and livestock. Let them at least know that they have an option of getting their animals out of harm’s way.
So if you have that extra land available, consider giving it out as temporary housing for homesteaders facing natural disasters.
Well, I hope that this will at least give everyone something to think about. Until Irma reared her ugly head, I had never seen some of the questions presented and truthfully, had never really thought of it much myself.
But now that she is here, and the questions are real, I have definitely forced myself to make plans and get ready.
Please join us in sharing support for the many hurricane victims and fire victims this year. We wish you all the best in recovery and hope that you all will remain safe in the wake of this storm.
But please feel free to share your thoughts of encouragement below for our fellow homesteaders in the Morning Chores Community that are no-doubt facing hardship because of these disasters right now. Also, please share any other tips you may have for those now wanting to develop a plan for their homestead in case of a natural disaster. After these past few weeks, I think it is something we all realize we need.