Friday, January 22, 2016


My horses did fine in the storm of January 2014.

When meteorologists start predicting snow for Central Alabama, the frantic preparations begin. Most folks rush to the grocery stores for milk and bread. Not me. I spend two hours buying gasoline for my generator and hay for my barnyard critters.

What began as a leisurely morning with coffee and sweet roll turned into a snow-prep frenzy.  Al Roker on the Today Show said a major snowstorm was due to swamp 29 states today, including many along the Eastern seaboard. So I checked the SAF-T-Net weather app on my iPhone, and discovered two alerts about snow coming to my neck of the woods about mid-morning. 

Before I could take a second sip of coffee, the phone rang. It was my daughter, Amanda,  making sure I would be on time picking up my oldest grandson from school today because she has a meeting at 3:30. The plan was for me to spend the night at her house, watch Gabe’s basketball game tomorrow morning, then bring  Gabe and Mati home with me for the weekend. Well, the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray, and all that poetic stuff.

I told her about the weather, so she could put a backup plan in place. “Even if I can get to your house, I can’t leave my critters snowed in,” I said.  “Oh, we probably won’t get any,” she replied. How soon she forgets! Two years ago a blizzard hit us so suddenly it caught our most experienced TV weather prognosticators completely off guard. Everyone in the Birmingham area left work at once, schools all closed at once, and many folks were stranded overnight in their cars. As I hung up the phone, my own backup plan kicked in, and I jumped into action. 

I checked the gasoline can. Yep, just as I thought, empty. I knew there was very little hay left, either, because truck problems had prevented my hay man from delivering a round bale last weekend. I raked what little hay remained closer to the edges of the horses’ hay ring so they could get to it, then put the last square bale in the llama/goat hay ring in their shed. So far so good, but what if I got snowed in at Amanda’s house and couldn’t get back until Sunday? What if my hay man couldn’t deliver this Sunday, either? Feed stores aren’t open on Sundays.

So I drove to the convenience store about three miles south of me, filled up my five-gallon gas can, then brought it home and set it on my back porch next to my generator. Kicking myself for not buying a few square hay bales while at the feed ’n seed yesterday, I drove three miles in the opposite direction to buy some today. When i got home, I added two bales to the horse hay ring and one to the llama/goat ring. I filled up the heated llama water bucket (the horses have automatic water tanks), patted myself on the back, and came inside my house where it was toasty warm.

If I get snowed in here, I’m in good shape. I have two gas fireplaces and plenty of propane to keep the house warm, and a gas stove to cook on. The generator will power everything but the HVAC system and the hot water heater, so other than cold baths—or no baths—I’ll be okay. If I get snowed in at Amanda’s house, I’ll know my outdoor critters will be fine for a couple of days. And the dogs? They have a large water bucket and two multi-quart gravity feeders full of dry  food. They also have a doggy door so they can go outside for their potty breaks.

Whether it be an inch or a foot, bring on the snow. I’m prepared this time.

Llamas are well-suited for snowy days.


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  2. Sounds like you are PREPARED! Stay warm, but keep an eye on the water outside. If it freezes, your critters will have a hard time drinking it.

  3. Not a problem. My horses have a tank that's fed via underground pipes that don't freeze. Ball covers actual water "bowls" of tanks, and when there's a sheet of ice on top, the horses paw it lose. The llamas have a heated water bucket. It doesn't produce warm water, but prevents freezing. Alas, can't do much about small tubs for goat. It has to sit on the ground and does sometimes freeze. I have to put llama bucket higher or they will step in it in warm weather to cool off!