For many North Carolinians, hurricane preparations begin when a storm is on the way. We might have a few items in our disaster kit, but we kick up preparations in earnest when a storm looks like it’s heading our way, heading to the grocery store for all the items that will get us through a few days if the power goes out.
But for pig farmers, hurricane preparations are on the year-round to-do list, and are never far from the farmer’s mind. The top three concerns are always animal health, the environment and farm safety, but particularly when a storm is rolling in. Lagoons levels and lagoon health are monitored year-round. Starting in the spring, farmers prepare for hurricane season by keeping lagoon levels as low as possible, while still maintaining enough liquid to ensure natural bacteria are able to convert waste to nutrients. They do this year-round because under state law, the nutrients must be applied to a green and growing crop under certain circumstances, so you can’t prepare for a massive storm in a matter of days. Many farmers did take the opportunity to bring down lagoon levels as much as possible over the weekend since the weather was clear. Once a tropical storm warning issued for a county, application must stop within 12 hours.
But just like the disaster preparedness kit for a family, there’s still plenty to be done last minute to protect the farm and animals. Click on an image below to see how Jack and Jan Archer of Wayne County spent Friday (five days before landfall) preparing for Tropical Storm Isaias.
Marlowe Ivey Vaughan is another pig farmer who spent her weekend preparing her farm for the storm. We stopped by her Lenoir County farm on Friday to talk about hurricane prep and what she does year-round to make sure her farm is ready when a storm starts rolling in.