Fortify Your Farm

Help your homestead weather any storm or disaster by installing adaptable, resilient infrastructure.

  • Installing simple infrastructure and breeding hardy animals can make crises less strenuous.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/Creaturart
  • A derecho leveled Polyface Farm’s portable field shelters, leaving 1,500 chickens without shade.
    Photo by Sheri Salatin
  • Gravity-fed water features can keep your animals hydrated after a natural disaster.
    Photo by Shutteye Photography

While sitting in our dining room on a sweltering July evening about five years ago, Teresa and I were chatting and reading when suddenly a gust of wind shook the house. Within a minute, debris pummeled the house, and the roar of wind sounded like something out of a sci-fi movie.

Before we could run around and check on things, our back door slammed; in came a terrified apprentice. She had run down from her cottage on the hill, afraid that gyrating trees would crush her living quarters. Moments later, an intern rushed in, seeking solace and shelter.

What we didn’t know until later was that we were in the dead center of a weather phenomenon known as a “derecho” — straight-line winds up to 100 mph. It had started in Indiana, built up power across West Virginia, and descended on our area in a direct hit. Roofs came off buildings, trees crushed houses and cars, semitrailers blew off the interstate. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced.

Our substantial log-and-brick home was built in 1800 and has stood the test of time. Plus, our dining room and kitchen are below grade by about 3 feet. Within minutes of the wind hitting, the power went off. We lit a kerosene lantern, and as the storm raged over the next 90 minutes, we feasted on ice cream — without knowing how long the power would be out, why not polish off the most delicious and vulnerable item in the freezer?

By midnight, the storm was over, and we decided to wait until morning to survey the damage. The next day, we saw that its extent was substantial, and the temperature that day was 100 degrees Fahrenheit — one of the hottest days of the summer. The power was out all over the region.

Providing water to livestock was our first priority. We had herds of cattle on two leased properties, in addition to a herd here at our home farm. We opened a fence so one herd could access a river. We rushed our generator over to the other herd to run the water pump so they could drink.

11/29/2017 7:59:20 AM

0.43 lbs of pressure per foot of elevation is correct, your numbers are way off

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