Starting the writing of this page before the storm arrived, with the fervent hope there will still be a roof come daylight of the morning of the storms arrival
(or just another storm season in Florida)
Too many Chickens and Turkeys, dogs and Cats, to evacuate with the other 8 million terrified folks trekking the clogged interstate and so we set our goal to safeguard the birds in our outside garage. Doubly challenging because we have so many geriatric turkey pets -most of them old toms that would get picked upon by the Alpha male turkeys- if penned together.
Allowed these two moms and their poults free range the day before Irma's arrival. Let them get some sun, grass and dust bathe before locking them up for two days as the storm raged.
Of course having turkey babies in September is utterly ridiculous. This is the third 2017 hatching for these two hens. Enough already!
Bird food, bedding, chain saw, hang the storm shutters, start securing things that will be missiles......
Clean and organize the cages to secure the chickens and turkeys inside a block building.
Staging cages before securing them in the event that a 25 pound Tom wants to perch on them during the storm
The tree was so majestic,-heartbreaking when it died
Spent the last month cutting down the taller sections of our Florida Red Maple tree that died in the spring-the worst Florida drought in a hundred years (or since they have been measuring such things)
The tree worried me, perched to fall on the turkey pens.
And along comes Hurricane Irma, Category 5 storm, Strongest Atlantic Hurricane ever recorded- winds slamming the islands at 180 miles per hour.
Complete freak out by those who never prepare for hurricanes and more than worrisome for those of us that do prepare every year.
Cut & dropped the last of the Maple branch the evening before Kennedy Space Center issued "Huracon IV", & sent everyone home early and locked the security gates. Bad omen perhaps.
Butterball & Coal safe for the storm
After the cages were staged and secured, the babies locked up, we began to carry the invalid turkeys inside. Since the outer rain bands of Irma were already sweeping the state; nearly all the birds were happy to be placed in a thick hay bedding and began to preen.
The chickens will not herd & I had to catch them one at a time
I think we counted 26 free range chickens that we had to catch and carry inside.
Herding the turkeys inside.........
First we guided the old toms inside and slowly coaxed them to their own hay lined cubby holes & sealed them in.
We had learned the hard way that different flock status Toms could not be mixed. And so the older or weak turkeys had to be separated from the others.
As mentioned in Turkey Herding I used two sticks to guide the birds inside (slowly)
Next we guided all the hens into the building (using two long bamboo sticks). And finally the alpha male Toms (6 of them)
As mentioned the birds were happy to get out the rain and we placed the final window protection, turned the lights out and made the inside very dark.
Somewhere under Hurricane Irma is Florida and us. Irma spun up dozens of Tornadoes coming ashore from the Atlantic
Some of the turkeys using my kayak as a perch during Irma. Not the ideal use of the fast boat, however this is an emergency.
"Red bird" finding her spot on the quail and chicken cages.
Hurricane Irma's outer bands dropping rain, 24 hours to go!
Next project was to relocate the turkey hens and eggs from nests across the street in the neighbors pasture.
I first fired up the incubator, anticipating the hens may no sit the eggs on their new nest. (And placed fake eggs on the nest where we would be moving the hens.
I waited until full dark and took a bucket, quickly but calmly I hopped, I pinned the hens wings down to her side and picked up the eggs. Rain was coming down & I covered the eggs on the way back to across the street.
Carefully I placed the hen in the pet carrier with the fake eggs & placed the real eggs in the incubator.
Repeated the process with the second turkey.
The hens did not actually sit on the fake eggs until I placed a solar spotlight on the eggs and the hens were happy to settle upon the eggs.
When we lost electricity during a particularly strong gust, I moved the real eggs to under the two hens.
Re-located Hen setting upon her eggs during Hurricane Irma
Long night of wind and the next morning.....
Daylight, with Irma spinning towards Georgia. Radio saying 53% of Florida residents had lost electricity.
Turkeys inspecting the fallen branches when released from their storm shelter.
Afternoon, sun comes out and the birds enjoying their new sun spot perch
Nearly four inches of pine straw across the entire yard and roads
Figure there is a month worth of work just picking up palm fronds and pine needles, however no complaints. We had no structure damage.
Two more tropical depressions lined up in the Atlantic!.
St. Johns River water levels rising as the river flows north towards Jacksonville.
Kennedy Space Center closed for a week because there was a water line break.
The Keys, not sure if Key West even exists anymore.
Simply Florida Living at it's finest.