I try never to pass up the opportunity of a storm headed our way to talk about being prepared!  So with Isaac headed our way here goes.

Have a plan.  Look at your farm and decide if you will stay or go.  Here in Gainesville, staying is often a reasonable plan but that means planning for no electricity, lots of water where we don’t want it (as a cat I hate this part) but no water to drink, and plenty of other fun inconveniences. If leaving is the better option, leave early.  It is very important to get your animals out ahead of a major evacuation so you don’t get stuck in hot weather with animals in a trailer. If you are staying, think about everything you do in a day and determine what you need to do tasks such as feeding and watering, both humans and animals.  Stockpile what you need to do these tasks for at least 14 days.

Take pictures and/or video of your property, home, vehicles, trailers, and anything else you can think of to document what you have and what it looks like.  Gather important documents.  Place both of these in a waterproof, secure location.  Even better upload them to an internet application such as Dropbox and they will be available no matter what happens.   An often overlooked step here is having an out of area contact.  Pick someone your entire family knows who lives outside the area likely to be affected by the storm.  Call your out of town contact and let them in on the plan and how things are progressing.  More on how important this person is in the next step.

Identify your animals!  There are several ways to do this and the more of them you use the better!  All animals should have a halter, collar, or some way to catch them.  These should be breakaway in case they get tangled in debris.  They should have your home phone number, cell phone number, and your out-of-area contact on them.  The easiest way to do this is write everything on a piece of cloth with a waterproof marker.  Place in a Ziploc bag and duct tape on.  Pieces of cloth with your information can also be braided in to manes and tails. Livestock grease markers work great to write phone numbers on the sides of horses and cattle.  And the single best way to identify your animals is a microchip!  Microchips helped over 90% of horses get reunited with their owners after Hurricane Katrina.

Storms are a constant threat living in Florida.  Spending some time on websites such as http://www.fldart.org/preparedness.htm can help you formulate the perfect plan for your farm and family.  We have disaster preparedness workbooks available at the office.   And as always you can contact the humans at Springhill Equine for help formulating a plan for your horses.   Most important though, may your food bowl be full and your litter box clean!  So plan ahead and head to the grocery store now to buy cat food and kitty litter!


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