It seems that my little town of Dahlonega, Georgia took the brunt of the storm. A picture of the aftermath taken on Hwy 9 just a couple miles from my farm was featured on the Georgia Power website.
Our power, and thus our water (we're on a well), went out Monday evening around 5pm and didn't come back on until about 1pm on Friday. I learned a lot in that 92 hours, most notably that I'm a southern girl who can do without all this winter weather, lol.
Here is my advice for surving an ice storm with no power or water while living on a horse farm.
1. Have an alternate form of caffeine readily available. I don't function well without coffee (understatement of the century to anyone who knows me, lol) and my coffee maker wasn't interested in performing without electricity. I got by with a coke zero I found in my fridge.
2. The horses don't know anything is amiss. Really, they don't know the power is out. The first day I was really worried and stressed about how they would cope. Then I realized a day without power is just like any other day to them. They woke up, got their morning feed and some extra hay (they liked that part), then headed out for a day of grazing in the pasture. A couple of them rolled around in the snow (we got a light dusting along with the ice on the trees), but otherwise, it was business as usual. They all had blankets on and were nice and warm underneath when they came back inside in the evening.
3. Take care of your non-horse pets. My barn cat, on the other hand, needs a little extra care in the cold weather. I usually put him in the heated kitchen in the barn when it gets really cold, but with the power out and temperatures forecast to drop into the single digits Wednesday and Thursday night, that wasn't an option. So I boarded him at my vet's office. They offered a special deal, about half-off the normal boarding rate for people caught in an emergency situation.
4. Find alternate living arrangements for yourself. I learned that I can stay in my house without any form of heat when temperatures dip into the single digits for approximately one night. There is only so much warmth to be gained from piling on layers of blankets. I think my house got down to 37 degrees at its lowest point. I was lucky that my friend Rebecca let me stay with her for two nights, the first of which was her birthday. Surprise! Your birthday present is me and all my dirty, wet barn clothes and boots taking over your guest bedroom.
5. Make sure all of your pasture troughs are full to the brim the day before the storm. This really was the saving grace for me. I was away at a horse show out of state the two days leading up to the storm, but I instructed my barn staff to fill the troughs and keep them full. They did, and I am so grateful that we had four 100-gallon water troughs full of fresh water. We were able to dip the stall water buckets into the pasture troughs to fill them. Not the easiest thing to do in the middle of an ice storm, but it works in a pinch.
6. If you get low on water, call the fire department. At the close of day three with no power to run the well pump, we were getting low on water in the pasture troughs. So we loaded up one of the 100 gallon toughs in the truck and hauled it up to the fire department to fill with their hose. You could actually get anyone who has power, water, and an unfrozen spigot and hose to fill for you, we just chose the fire department because, you know, firemen...
7. Pour antifreeze in your toilets. If you have a bathroom in your barn, you can pour antifreeze in the toilet before the temperatures drop and it might keep it from freezing and busting. The key is to do this before the temps drop, not after the toilet is already frozen, oops. Noted for future reference.
8. Be patient. If you're without power, more than likely so are countless others. I had quite a bit of time on my hands, so I drove around the county and saw dozens of power company bucket trucks out and about. I learned to be patient and trust that when disaster strikes, our linemen/women are out there working hard and they'll get to me eventually. I knew I was in for a long wait, so I decided to just settle in and make the best of it. I made many new friends at the various fast food restaurants where I hung out during the day along with other displaced residents, taking advantage of the free warmth and wi-fi, Everyone was eager to share their battle stories over cups of warm coffee.
9. Know your limits. I was supposed to take one of my western riders to a horse show on Saturday at Judson college in Alabama, about six hours away. I made arrangements with Coach Knight of Berry College to coach my rider at the show so I could stay home at take care of the farm. But then my power came back on Friday at 1pm and I briefly thought I could accompany my rider after all, but ultimately decided against it. And good thing I stayed because just a few hours after the power came back, my well pump burst and water began flowing like a river out of the well pump housing. The good people at 'Prime Pump and Well' here in Dahlonega came out and got it all fixed up for me within a few hours. Then we got another round of snow on Friday night and I had to do the Saturday morning feeding. I'm often guilty of trying to do too much (aren't all horse people?), but I was proud of myself for being wise enough to know when I needed to stay and take care of my farm. And my student rode well at the show and got some good ribbons under Coach Knight's tutelage, so it all worked out.
10. Get a little help from your friends. I have great friends, from my non-horsey friend Rebecca who put me up in her guest bedroom, to Coach knight of Berry College who coached my western rider, to the firefighters who filled the trough, to my barn workers who came out in the afternoon to help with cleaning the stalls and hauling buckets, to the countless students, parents, family, and friends who texted, called, and messaged me with offers to help. I'm a tough cookie, often more willing to figure things out on my own rather than seek help (again, aren't all horse people?), but I knew this situation would take more than my rugged individualism to get though, and I took advantage of the kindness and generosity of those around me. A huge thank you to everyone who pitched in!
I'm interested to hear stories from other folks who survived "Ice storm 2015." Fee free to share in the comments, and stay warm!
|Ice Storm 2015 at Epiphany Farm in Dahlonega, GA|
photo credit Amanda Garner
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