Photo courtesy of NOAA
Well at some point over the weekend, Isaac bypassed Florida and headed into the Gulf of Mexico. Projection maps started pointing the storm for our area and saying that it would become a hurricane before making landfall. We still weren't that concerned. A little category one storm? Please! Plus our farm is about an hour northwest from New Orleans. Surely we were far enough inland that any storm surge flooding wouldn't affect us.
By Monday evening we were pretty certain Isaac was headed our way so we battened down the hatches around the farm. More than anything, we were concerned with high winds blowing things around and knocking down trees, so we put away anything laying around and moved the ducks from the very last, very open pen into a slightly smaller, more enclosed area. BigWig, our big rabbit buck, got moved out of his ground level cage/tractor and into the raised cages of the poultry house next to his ladies. We also filled every bottle, jar, and pitcher we could find with water and put bottles of water in the chest freezer.
Tuesday we did all the normal chores of feeding and milking and whatnot. We kept the birds in their enclosures and just waited and waited. We twiddled our thumbs and looked out the window to see the occasional clam breeze and slight sprinkle. We started thinking, 'Is this it?' All this fuss over some light rain and cool breezes?
Then Tuesday night the rain started. We could hear the wind gusting by our bedroom windows. At about 5am we lost power. When daylight came, we ventured out into the storm to take care of animals.
We milked goats and fed poultry. We found that the wind and rain had been blowing right into the worst possible side of the poultry house and onto our youngest chickens, turkeys, and guineas. Big Onion grabbed an armful of feed bags and the staple gun and braved the storm to tack up some cover for the poor soggy, young birds.
The chickens and the turkeys seemed ok, but the young guineas were extremely wet and cold. A couple looked like hypothermia had set in: they were confused and barely moving. One somehow got stuck under a much larger turkey (not the brightest birds in the world) and didn't seem able to walk. We tucked the young, sodden birds into an empty food bin and moved them inside the house to dry off and warm up. Without power we couldn't even offer them the comfort of a heat lamp, so Big Onion used the gas stove to heat some water and give them a hot water bottle of sorts. We ended up losing two of the guineas just from being unable to keep their body temps up.
We watched the sheep rush out during the brief breaks in the weather to graze for a few minutes at a time before the driving rain forced them back under cover.
Since our house plumbing is hooked up to a well with a pump, no power meant no water to the house. Big Onion, being the brilliant and resourceful man that he is, had the idea of running about 200ft of hose from the barnyard, which on city water, across the backyard, and up to the house. Somehow his scheme worked and kept us in water throughout the storm. (Note from Big Onion: this is probably not the safest thing to do but it worked as a temporary fix!)
I'm proud to say that despite being hit by a hurricane that had winds gusting up to 80mph, none of our animals went hungry. It may have taken a bit of insanity on our part, but we made sure to milk both goats twice a day and get every bird and rabbit fed on their normal schedule. I took a peek at the creek that runs through the middle of our property just after we had finished evening chores on Wednesday and it was about 1 foot below our bridge. I commented to Big Onion that the bridge might wash out over night if the creek got any higher.
That night once all the animals were fed and tucked away for the evening, Big Onion and I cooked up a hearty chicken stew, played cards by candle light, and waited for the storm to pass us by.
Stay tuned for Part 2!