Yes I know I do this every year around June 1st, but it’s because you humans are very bad at listening. Hurricane season has officially begun. It’s time to play “Let’s get prepared for a disaster!” The Farm Version.
Hurricanes love to pick stuff up and throw it around. Look around the farm for those items. Make a burn pile for the stuff can get burned, and a dump pile for the stuff that can’t. Once in piles, actually remove them. Wait until we get some rain, but then burn that burn pile. No need to wait for anything for the dump run. Bonus: Dump runs can usually be counted on for some entertainment from other humans making dump runs as well. Most important: do something with the debris. Don’t let it sit around until the next Hurricane Michael is at Cedar Key. At that point everyone in your county will be at the dump trying to get rid of their debris. Be a smart human!
Identify your stuff
Microchip your horse. It’s easy. It’s cost effective. It’s permanent. Do it now. Also works for your dogs and cats. I say it works for humans too, but some frown upon that.
Identify more than just your pets and relatives, though. Take a few minutes to shoot a video or take pictures of your truck and trailer, vehicles, tack room, and barn. Anything you think you would claim on insurance should be documented. Those phones you humans carry around to take pictures of yourself and your horse can be used for this, too. Upload it to that place called the cloud so it’s safe. A few moments now can save you a ton of hassles with insurance later.
Stockpile a few things
Think about what you will need if power is out. Take advantage of the Tax Holiday in Florida on some things. Common stuff you can stockpile now include batteries, flashlights, tarps, duct tape (can you ever have enough?), and gas cans. Horses drink a LOT of water. Think now about how you are going to provide that water. Plastic trash cans with lids work great! Large water troughs work well, too. Whatever you are going to use, now is the time to make sure you have it, and it doesn’t leak. If you are going to evacuate (more on that in a sec), be sure you have enough water and feed buckets for everyone.
Should I stay or should I go?
There’s a different answer for everyone, but the important thing now is to make a plan. Even if you intend on staying, you should still make an evacuation plan. It’s just a good idea. The tricky part about evacuating with horses is the timing. You need to leave the area 4-5 days before the projected hit. Traffic is way too bad if you wait until the last minute. Now is the time to call places you may evacuate to and find out what they require. The Agriculture Inspection Station will often waive the Health Certificate requirement during evacuations. However, your destination will likely require a Coggins at a minimum, and may require certain vaccines as well. Check your Coggins now on ALL the horses you might evacuate. Getting them done as a routine appointment is so, so much easier than doing them as an emergency. Bonus: my Docs can microchip your horses at the same time! Easy peasey.
We all like to pretend hurricanes are no big deal, but this cat has been around long enough to know you humans don’t really believe that. Spend some time now getting ready, and then you can enjoy that hurricane party as you watch for Jim Cantore’s latest location.
All well trained humans will now scroll down to the subscribe button. Press the button, enter your email, and get my blog a day before everyone else. If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is!
Until next week,
P.S. Want more? Check out the podcast my docs do called Straight from the Horse Doctor’s Mouth. They just released an episode on Disaster Preparedness, and it’s chock full of good information.
Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!
I realize I may sound like a broken record this time of year, but sometimes you humans don’t listen so well. Cats listen to everything. We might ignore you, but we do hear you. ‘Tis the season for me to chat with you about hurricane preparedness.
The Bare Necessities
As I sit here watching it torrentially rain, I remember back to last year when Hermine made the power go out for three days. I learned humans require a substance called coffee, which requires electricity, and horses drink A LOT of water, which requires a pump, which requires electricity! Electricity has a nasty tendency to go away during hurricanes.
Take a look around your farm and decide who needs what to tough it out for 5-7 days. For the animals, that is feed, hay, and water. For the humans, that’s coffee, water, and food that doesn’t need refrigeration. Can you provide these things without electricity?
Anticipate 15 gallons of water per horse per day, along with 1 gallon per human per day, and another ¾ per dog and cat per day. This water can be stored in large trash cans (clean ones, obviously!), or those big water troughs. Water can be purified with 6 drops of bleach per gallon if necessary. Be sure any feed and hay you’ve stocked up on is way, way above what you could possibly in your wildest dreams consider a high water level. Ask the nice people in St. Augustine how high water can get without the hurricane even making landfall!
Now is the time to examine your fences, property, and barn for anything that can become debris during hurricanes. High winds, during even afternoon thunderstorms, can pick up old boards, sheets of roofing tin, or even fencing wire and send it flying around your farm. Horses seem to have a special magnetism for injuries from these scenarios. Keeping these “junk piles” every human seems to have securely covered or tied down is key to an injury-free hurricane experience.
Eyeball your farm for other hazards that may occur. A biggie is downed power lines. Figure out where you can safely put your animals so that even if lines come down, they won’t be able to go near them. Approach deep water areas the same way.
Speaking of keeping your animals safe during storms, we recommend big stuff like horses and cows stay outside during bad storms if at all possible. This gives them the best opportunity to move away from flying debris, downed trees, and other fun hurricane happenings. We recommend small critters, like dogs and cats, stay inside to prevent them from doing the full-on freakout and running away.
Find your way home
Microchips. Best way for your horse, or dog, or cat, or grandparent (ok just kidding on that one, sort of) to find their way home is with a properly registered microchip. Microchips are easy to place, simple to register, and provide 24/7 lifetime identification for your horse.
For the humans though, have a family plan for how you will meet up if a storm prevents you from returning home. Pick a point person, whom everyone knows, that lives outside of the potential disaster area. Let’s be real here: for hurricanes, that means someone outside of Florida. This is a person any family member can contact to check-in. Having a far away point person can be a lifesaver (literally) in these situations.
There are tons of resources out there about hurricane preparedness and farms. Go find them, read them, and form a plan. Don’t be the cat left out in the rain: Be prepared for hurricane season!!
Ever have problems loading your horse on the trailer? Tony reveals all the tricks of the trade!
So, I have a complaint. On Saturday morning my minions came to feed me as usual. But then, as they all headed off eagerly to Canterbury Showplace to set up for my Trailering Seminar, they slammed the door in my face! That’s right, they left me here at the clinic with stinky Teanie! Can you believe it? I do all the work designing and promoting the event, then they leave me behind and take all the credit. Well, in case you too got locked behind your kitty door, here is a recap of what you missed.
How NOT to load a horse
Hanging out and observing all the goings on at the clinic, I have seen many methods of loading a horse on a trailer that are fantastically ineffective. If you stand in front of your horse pulling on the leadrope, making lots of noise, rushing, and trying to force your horse into a dark scary hole, I guarantee you it is not going to work. Other poor choices I have seen include shaking a bucket of grain in the trailer while your horse stands outside terrified of the noisy echo coming from inside the hole where he was already convinced monsters were lurking. Also, using short crops on the shoulder or lip chains on the leadrope, both of which tend to drive horses backwards rather than forwards. Another good way to set yourself up for failure is to try to load a horse that does not yet know how to lead, and to move forward when you ask.
If you’re not bored, you’re doing it wrong
Now I am going to share with you and only you, my adoring fans, the great, big, awesome, mind-blowing, earth-shattering, best-kept-secret-in-the-world for loading a horse on the trailer: patience. If you put a very patient person at the horse’s head (like Nancy, who perfectly demonstrated this at my seminar), chances are very good your horse will get on the trailer. Now first, Nancy will have to make sure your horse knows to move forward when asked. Then, your horse will have to get comfortable being close to the trailer, to convince himself that the horse-eating monsters that live inside have left for the day. Finally, Nancy will ask your horse to step into the trailer, immediately rewarding any motion or even a hint of moving in the right direction. For this part, it is helpful to have your second-most-patient friend behind the horse with a longe whip to gently encourage that forward motion, and to immediately release pressure when the forward motion is achieved.
How to haul a horse trailer
Well, I guess I would know what to tell you here if they had invited me to my own event! Apparently Justin did a killer job giving demonstrations, explanations, and hands-on training to the attendees. He taught them how to do this fancy move called an L-turn for backing your trailer into a tight spot. He warned against passenger-side backing, and advised using a ground person to watch your blind spots whenever possible. The biggest take home message that was passed along to me was safety first when hauling: always think about what you are going to do before you do it. Don’t pull into that gas station without thinking about your exit strategy. Don’t pull forward into a narrow spot if you are not comfortable turning your trailer around. Don’t hesitate to get out and walk around the back of the trailer instead of just backing up until you hear a crunch!
I hope everyone other than me was able to make it to this amazing event. But if you missed it, save the date for my next seminar, Wednesday April 19th on Geriatrics! Don’t worry, I won’t let them keep me away next time.
Let me just start off by saying that despite it being the 21st century and all, a barn cat is still the best way to keep the rodent population down. But there are areas where the fancy gizmos and gadgets of 2016 can really benefit the modern horse farm. I had always thought that most of this stuff wasn’t anywhere near affordable until I crunched the numbers myself and converted Kitty Coin currency to American Dollars.
Everyone likes barn work (I guess?), but what are the jobs that you just wish were a little bit easier? Do you get tired of dragging out the garden hose, standing in the sun filling up the buckets, and rolling the hose back up twice a day? Well for one, I don’t know why you don’t have the water spigot closer to the buckets, but secondly, you could have the water monitored by a ‘smart’ watering and monitoring system. BTW, calling these automated devices ‘smart’ is just as brilliant as calling an owl wise. Again, it’s your feline friend that is the master mouse hunter. But regardless of what we are calling it, smart watering systems are only the beginning.
Ever heard the bang of thunder at 2am and are fighting the inner conflict of laziness verse desire to check on your horses? Well, you could stay in bed and look at the barn cameras right on your ‘smart’ phone or tablet.
Did your horse miss an afternoon shower and need to cool off? You can have a misting area in your barn or paddock to cool down your equine friend.
Wondering if that mosquito that just bit you was carrying the Zika virus? Worry not because you didn’t get bitten, you had an automated fly repellent system.
Traveling the national show circuit but concerned about the retired horse back home who doesn’t like the heat? Install some new high-efficiency paddle fans. Don’t want to leave them on and run up the electric bill? I did say “high-efficiency”, but still you can have them turn on and off automatically when horses are present through occupancy sensors.
Have you ever walked into your tack room and thought you entered a walk-in-freezer? Or worse, a sauna? No problem, you can monitor and control the room temperature remotely and prevent anybody but you from making any adjustments.
Kept up at night by the thought of a barn fire or other natural disaster? That’s why there are smoke, fire, gas, and unfriendly tomcat detection systems that can alert you, as well as fire suppression systems and breakaway gates to minimize damage in such a tragic event.
You left the barn lights on and already got into your kitty print PJs? No problem. You have a lighting control system and have a button to shut the whole barn down right in your bedroom.
You have to walk all the way to the corner of the paddock to call one of our veterinarians because your horse cut himself and you don’t get good service at the barn? Why not install a cell phone booster? Or hey! Bring WiFi out to the barn then you can use WiFi calling (check your carrier for rates and compatibility) or browse FaceBook because you still haven’t gotten an automated water bucket and are standing there with a hose!
Ah, the 21st century. I think I’ve only scratched the surface with the many things we can do that my parents sure couldn’t in their day. Now if I can just convince the doctors we need a 4K TV in the office….
I’m going to start with a reminder to come visit with me on Thursday evening at 6:30pm. We have a limited number of Meet Tony opportunities, so don’t miss your chance. There will also be some talk on why horses need vaccines so often. I say it’s because they are a lesser evolved critter, but the humans say that’s not true. Oh and there will be good food. All in all a good time.
Moving on to Hurricane Hermine. I realize I have discussed hurricanes before but I felt you humans would be well primed for a refresher course given recent events. Let’s start with the basics: food, water, shelter. Did you have all of these after Hermine? Where there close calls? Walk in the feed room today and take stock of what you have. Don’t forget to check on medications. We were lucky this time; the phones never went down so our Docs were reachable, but it doesn’t always work that way. If your supplies levels are good, then you probably would have done OK if you are in the greater Gainesville area. Cedar Key and similar areas weren’t as fortunate. Determine if you are prepared for that level of destruction.
Did you have enough water for the horses? Being a cat, I was fine on water but a 5 gallon bucket will pretty much last me forever. Horses do love their water. We recommend 15 gallons per day per horse multiplied by how long you think power will be out. Planning for a week without power is the minimum we recommend. Of course, our amazing power companies normally do much better than that, but the bigger a storm, the longer it takes. In 2004 many people were out for over two weeks! Have a way to get water if power stays out. A generator to run the pump or tanks to haul water make the world a much happier place.
How did you fences do? Which brings up are your horses microchipped? We were pretty lucky at the Clinic, and the human houses to have intact fences for the most part. It’s easy to see how a tree can hit a fence line and free a horse though. And being horses they will run the least safe direction. Picking a pasture that, at the very least, directs them away from power lines or other dangers is a good start. Microchipping them so they can be identified when found is an even better step.
Take this opportunity to evaluate your disaster plan. Were the cats (ok and the horses) happy? I was about to strike over the no air conditioning thing. Do you feel you were ready for worse? Look at Hermine as Mother Nature’s little pop quiz. She just wants us to know what she can do. Kind of like us cats. Shameless plug here at the end: The humans have continued the microchip special for two more weeks. It’s ridiculously easy. The $43 price includes LIFETIME registration. Can’t beat that deal. Also since the weather was not completely disgusting today, horse show season must be upon us. We are offering 10% off Back-To-School, Back-To-Horse show lameness evaluations.
Before I get in to the informational section of my weekly discussions, I want to extend an invitation to each of you for our latest Come See Tony Event. It will be next Thursday September 8th, 6:30 pm at the Clinic. You will be allowed to talk with me and pet me. I will tolerate selfies as long as they are appropriately hashtagged on social media. There will also be some talk on the science behind vaccines. Oh and good food. You are crazy if you don’t come. Please RSVP with one of the lovely office ladies, or confirm that you’re going on the Facebook Event here https://business.facebook.com/events/289817458052174/
I know we have gone over disaster stuff recently but Mother Nature has provided me with another opportunity. It’s been raining in Louisiana. It’s been raining so much there’s massive flooding. With massive flooding comes a lot of need for veterinarians since, as expected, us animals don’t do so well with all that water. Luckily (or unluckily) the wonderful folks at LSU College of Veterinary Medicine got loads of practice during Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath.
There are two parts to flooding and each has its own set of issues. Let’s start with the rainy part since it comes first. During the initial rain storms, horses may freak out since it’s one of their best responses to disaster. Freaked out horses do some pretty crazy stuff like run through fences, kick through walls, and generally figure out a way to injure themselves. I can’t really throw stones here as freaked out cats aren’t a whole lot better.
On to the no longer rainy part. During this phase the veterinarians are kept busy fixing the injuries horses did freaking themselves out and dealing with the aftermath of high water. Common things they see are lacerations to legs and faces, eye injuries from debris, and skin and hoof problems from standing in water for long periods. Horse parts don’t take to being immersed in water for days at a time. Flood water often has chemicals and sewage in it as well make it even worse than plain old water. To make things worse, it is often difficult to get supplies in to affected areas and horses out to hospitals.
The veterinarians at LSU and surrounding clinics have sent out a call for help. They can always use grain and hay donations, but most important is monetary donations. Money lets them buy supplies and equipment for the situations they are facing. What we may think they need isn’t always what they need. You can go here: http://lvma.org/LVMA/LSART_Donations.aspx or here: http://www.lsu.edu/vetmed/disaster_preparedness/donations.php to donate.
I’m going to get up on my kitty soap box here for just a moment and remind you humans to be prepared. Look at your farm and your animals. What do you need to do to be prepared for a hurricane, a flood, a tornado? Are your animals microchipped? We are running a microchip special this month because of hurricane season. Our Docs want you ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you! We are all sure it will never happen to us until it happens.