(Or why not to live in Florida)
Morning after Hurricane Matthew!
We are the 'blue dot' in the photo. Kennedy Space Center is just to the east getting hammered
Forecasters were calling for Hurricane Matthew to slam into Florida with 170 mph winds! No time for panic, all of our animals had to be moved into a structure until the storm passed.
The turkeys presented a special challenge because they had to be caged based upon their flock status.
Sunrise, a sigh of relief; buildings and trees still standing. The maple tree turkey perch required some repairs.
Just some of the cages in the outside garage: Chickens, quail, turkeys, pheasants. Larger inside pens got the crippled up old toms and mother hens with their baby turkeys and chickens.
The problem, and we did figure it out, was that each Tom Turkey had to be penned separately from other toms. There was no problem with those individual male birds being penned with hens, teenagers or chickens. Just not with other toms.
On a previous hurricane, I had learned if needed and there was some space the highest status (alpha) males could be penned with other higher ranking males, but NOT mixing high flock status birds and low or mid status birds.
In the event of Hurricane Matthew, and a possible catastrophic storm, every bird (and other animals) had to be penned, so space was at a premium. We would worry about cleaning up the animal manure if we still had a roof in the morning.
Our advantage in guiding and securing the free range birds inside was that the building already had hurricane shutters installed and it was dark inside. We herded males and flocks of babies/mothers into pens and 'make shift pens' until all were secured and shut the doors to wait for the worst.
Wait! You might wonder how we 'herded' 40+ free range turkeys into one building during an approach of a major hurricane? Why turkey sticks! Over the years I observed how tom turkeys would guide the flock with their wings outstretched. So, NOT rushing them, I used two sticks (my wings) and slowly guided the groups inside to be penned.
The chickens of course do not herd and they had to be trapped and carried screaming inside. The sky was darkening and winds rising to a howl as we caught the last restless chicken.
Morning after: Set the birds free! (to see the damage)
Wind was still gusting as Hurricane Matthew pulled away from Florida
Exploring the damage
Exploring a fallen pine tree. Turkeys are curious!
Took the time during clean up to chip out a blade in celebration for Hurricane Matthew staying mostly offshore.
As of the new year, we are still cleaning up the debris but nevertheless forever grateful because the storm could have been far worse!