Okay... So the world didn't revert to the dark ages when the big odometer flipped. (Darn it!) But some of the Y2k preparations sure paid off when the winter storms hit hard a few weeks later. Here are a few I am repeating this year:
Water. Horses might not drink as much when it's cold out, but it's still important to have a way to get them fresh water if the power is out or the municipal water supply is interrupted. A portable generator with enough wattage to run the pump may be worth-while if you have a well. Keeping one or more big water troughs full in the face of an impending winter storm will give you at least some back-up supply, even if you have to sledgehammer through the upper layer of it.
Heat. It's hard to look after your horses when you're frozen stiff. Make sure your alternative home heater is in good working condition and that you have a decent supply of fuel.
Hay. Try to get the loft filled before the bad weather sets-in. If you're buying hay on a weekly basis and this year's big storm comes the day you run out, you'll have some unhappy horses to deal with. They need the hay to keep warm from the inside.
Feed. This is less critical than hay. If the horses are couped-up in the barn and paddocks for days while you clear ice-broken trees off the main fence lines, it's probably a good idea to cut their grain rations back anyway.
Alternative fence power. A good, battery-powered fence charger can be very handy if you rely on hot fences to contain your horses and the power goes out. If you use solar powered chargers, be sure to get the snow off the panels!
Alternative electricity. An inexpensive power inverter can produce limited amounts of household electric current from a car's cigarette lighter or a removed car battery. This is handier and quieter than firing-up a gasoline generator when you need to plug something in.
Camp Stove. Propane mini-bottles or pump-up Coleman gasoline, a little camp stove is a big help in a pinch. Especially for melting ice into water.
Light. Flashlights are handy and safer for getting around in the dark, but for stationary room lighting, old-fashioned kerosene lamps are great. A little kerosene will make light for a very long time.
Radio. An AM/FM with fresh batteries is a godsend in the cold, dark nights. Make sure you have one in working order. If you have a ghetto blaster, remember that the FM stereo equalizer will drain your batteries faster than AM or FM mono. Playing tapes will drain the batteries even faster. Playing CDs will kill the batteries in no time.
First aid supplies. This you should have year-round, but it will be especially important if you can't get through the blocked roads to an emergency room. Don't forget supplies to deal with equine injuries or illnesses too. You may not be able to get a vet if things get ugly out.
Fire extinguishers. You already have several strategically located, right? Make sure they're all in working order. The fire departments are very busy in the winter, especially if there is a storm. And they may not be able to get to your place because of road conditions.
Remember, the Carolinas' version of Old Man Winter is a crazy old goat. You never know what he's going to throw at us.
Back to EQ Autumn 2000 Index.