This week's Hurricane Sandy visit certainly wasn't planned, but the farm survived with minimum damage. We weren't in the direct path of the hurricane, as we are located in MD and the storm directly hit NJ, but it was a large storm and the hurricane force winds and rains certainly hit us.
Before the storm I went up to NJ to pick up my mother, who was in the direct storm path. Mom could have stayed with my sister, but Barb had a full house and I had an empty house. And Barb was also directly in the storm's path. And so we all hunkered down last Monday waiting for the storm to hit us. We prepared with lots of food and water and flashlights. The animals and humans, too, were all fed early so no one would have to eat dinner in the dark - in case we lost power.
The full force of the storm started hitting us in the late afternoon, early evening on Monday night. It had been raining sheets of rain off and on all day. Then the winds really started rolling all the trees around. We live in the midst of the woods, so we were concerned about trees falling.
Benjamin the outside cat was very upset all day on Monday. He was running around like crazy all day, he wouldn't settle down. Mon afternoon he wouldn't eat his dinner. Brindle the other outside cat didn't show up for dinner Mon afternoon. She must have been hunkered down somewhere in the woods. Benjamin slept on our side porch that night, staying dry and safe.
The chickens were soaked from being out in the rain all day. I cleaned their coop Monday and turned on the heat lamp inside the coop to dry them. They all came inside the coop and lined up on the roost underneath the heat lamp, loving the warmth and the clean straw. The temperatures had really dropped and it was downright chilly, especially when you were wet. The hurricane force winds and rain were blowing into the little chicken door, the door going outside to the chicken pen. I hurried Penny hen into the coop - she's always the last one in - and closed the little chicken door, keeping the wind and rain out. Penny was soaked to the bone, but she quickly settled down on a roost. Penny is the most animated chicken these days, she always makes me laugh.
The guineas were my biggest concern. They all flew up into the little red maple tree - their current nighttime roosting tree. At 8pm I went out into the storm to check on them. The trees were all whipping with the gusting winds, the rain was cold and was driven sideways by the wind. I could see the guineas clinging for all their lives to the tree branches as the wind whipped and the rain pelted them. Guineas look so small when they are soaking wet. The branches were flying up and down, the guineas were hanging on, heads down and straight forward. It looked like they were riding a roller coaster. Sometimes the branches even flipped upside down in the wind, birds clinging only with their feet. The poor guineas got no sleep that night!
I found several guineas who fell out of the tree during the storm. They were walking round on the ground in the dark. If a fox were to find them they'd be goners. Although a fox was unlikely to be walking by during a hurricane! I grabbed them one by one, they screamed bloody murder and fought to get away. I hung onto them and put them into the empty side of the chicken coop. At least those guineas had a quiet and dry night in the coop. I checked on the guineas several times throughout the night, looking for birds that fell out of the tree, but everyone else managed to hang on.
Come morning, the winds had quieted and the guineas all flew down to the ground. I let the cooped birds outside. The ones who stayed outside all night were still soaking wet and looked totally exhausted. They barely walked. The ones who slept inside were all refreshed and excited, but they stayed close to their brothers and sisters. The guinea flock stayed real close to the house that day after the storm, recovering from riding roller coasters all night long.
We never even lost power from Hurricane Sandy, so we were very blessed and happy. All the guineas survived, and Brindle returned the next morning, wet but hungry. Such is life on this little farm in the woods.