Making a Homestead Evacuation Plan

by | Apr 13, 2018 | Headline News | 12 comments

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    This article was originally published by Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper

    With wildfire season approaching in California, my thoughts are with my many friends there who have small farms. Even if you don’t live in a wildfire zone, if you raise livestock, you need to have a homestead evacuation plan. Any place can have a barn fire, a chemical spill, or other environmental emergencies.

    I’ve written quite a lot about evacuations since my family and I were right on the verge of it during the King Fire. Fires can approach shockingly fast, and being ready before there is ever a hint of smoke in the air is the best way to get out quickly when the time is short.

    But things change dramatically when you add a farm or homestead to the mix. Suddenly, you have more living creatures in your charge than you do space in the vehicle. You absolutely must have a plan in place before a disaster occurs, because if you wait for the evacuation order, you’ve waited too long.

    Create a homestead evacuation plan.

    Here are some of the things that I learned about homestead evacuation. Use this to create your own plan, because disasters can strike anywhere and we all have different resources, livestock, and circumstances.

    Be aware of what’s happening nearby. When I lived in California, I haunted the local boards that discussed fires and other events. I had friends who were former firefighters and subscribed to phone notifications from the local sheriff’s department. If there was a fire or mudslide nearby, I knew about it while it was still miles from me. That way, I could assess my plan and see if action needed to be taken immediately, or if I just needed to stay on top of the situation.

    Figure out where you’ll take your livestock. Often, local fairgrounds will open their facilities for farmers to bring evacuated livestock. Sometimes veterinarians and kennels will also accept evacuated animals. If you are in contact with other farmers, they may be able to make room for your animals. I belonged to a local homesteading group at the time, and we all made space for animals, trailers, and RVs if we could to help our friends during fire season.

    Evacuate livestock early if you can. The last fire that was nearby was called the Trailhead Fire, and it consumed 5,646 acres over the course of 20 days. Toward the end, when it drew closer to our farm, I evacuated all our chickens to a friend’s farm that was out of the danger zone. That gave me the peace of mind to know that if we had to evacuate for real, I only had to grab cats, dogs, and kid, which would have been far faster than chasing a bunch of panicked hens.

    Have a way to transport your animals. You will either need a trailer, pens that can go into the back of a truck, or crates that can hold your livestock. You may need help from friends with trailers if you have a lot of animals. Have these things ready so that you aren’t trying to figure out how to move the animals when a fire is approaching.

    Have a plan for last-minute homestead evacuation. This is every farmer’s nightmare because if the fire is approaching fast, you may not be able to load up all your animals in time.

    • Have trailers and trucks close to the livestock area for quick evacuation.
    • If you think you may need to evacuate, contain your livestock in the smallest area possible for ease of loading. For example, if your chickens normally free-range, keep them contained in a yard around their coop so you have a better chance of catching them. Close off the gates to the larger pastures and keep other livestock in the area closest to the trailers.
    • Practice loading up. This way, the animals get used to being loaded and are less likely to panic and fight you. Secondly, you know which animals are going to be the most uncooperative and you also have a feel for how long it takes to load them all.
    • Have blinders on hand. This may be nothing more than a piece of cloth or a fabric bag, but if your animals are panicking, it can be easier to lead them out if they can’t see the threat. Most people think only of horses needing blinders but it can be far easier to lead goats and cows this way too.
    • Give every person a job. Even younger children may be able to help round up chickens or gather feed. Be sure that everyone knows what to do beforehand so that you can all work together quickly and efficiently.
    • Remember that if there is a threat like a nearby fire, animals are much more likely to panic due to fear. This means it will probably take longer to load them up.

    Know what to do if you can’t evacuate the livestock. If there is no time to load the livestock, at least turn them loose so they have a chance at escaping the flames. If your family is at risk of dying in the fire, you will have to evacuate and leave the animals behind. It’s a horrible choice but could be necessary. Remember the Napa Valley fires last summer? Some people had only moments to flee fast-moving infernos.

    Have you ever been through a homestead evacuation?

    Have you had the experience of evacuating a homestead? If so, please share your story and tips in the comments section below.

    The Pantry Primer

    Please feel free to share any information from this article in part or in full, giving credit to the author and including a link to The Organic Prepper and the following bio.

    Daisy Luther is the author of The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide To Whole Food on a Half Price Budget.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]</e


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      1. Not to start a fight but I believe and perhaps some of you do that these fires were intentionally set for the purpose to move the human population out and return the area to wilderness or rewilding as it is often called.

        Well, Friday 10:27 am and so far the west is not bombing Syria although there are unconfirmed reports of Russian Air Strikes in Syria and causalities. Probably more fake news.

        • Not specific to homesteads, during the fires in Northern California, specifically homes in the forested hills of upper middle class mostly white at the time; there were deaths on narrow streets because cars piled up in accidents or from overheating.

          _ I heard some disturbing comments. Some folks claimed that the recently integrated progressive fire department deliberately stalled the evacuation, allowing people to die.
          This was shocking if true. I couldn’t fathom such cruelty and asked, “why would they do that?”. I was told, “to scare white people out of their homes so they could buy cheap and move blacks in for political reasons. I didn’t believe it. But it gave me pause to think. How far would they go to achieve their goals? “By any means necessary” dates back to the Communist takeover of Russia.

          It’s very frightening, but possible, these fires are being started deliberately. It seems Rothschild owns the “Pacific Gas and Electric Company”. There are videos on YouTube claiming he wants the land for the underground water which is more valuable by the day.

          Who knows?


          • BCA: I hate to say it but do NOT be surprised about Anything anymore – I put Nothing past the awful, cruel, vile scum roaming the streets of not only America but the entire world for that manner. It is just awful and pathetic what has happened to virtually anything and everything. You can’t trust anyone anymore and you certainly cannot trust your own Gov’t, that goes without saying guys…We need to reclaim OUR Country, The End.

      2. The key is leaving before anything happens ….!!!

      3. As my name implies I live in the forest. Black Forest, Colorado to be exact. June 11 2013 my neighbors and I had first hand experience with fire. Neighbor Steve to my north got out with his and his children’s lives by the skin of their teeth. The fire was being pushed thru a severely drought stricken forest by winds gusting to 45-50 mph. They did not even have time to open the pens for his live stock. The advice to practice evacuation for human and animal are good, but doing mitigation work beforehand is even more important. Many people want that “wild” look or are just not interested in mitigation. Learn/Plan not to burn, advice is usually available at little or no cost from local fire departments and agriculture extension offices. In 2010 and again in 2012 I mitigated the trees on my place and what I could on several of my neighbors places. I stayed, fought and got both the firefighter merit badge and the burn scars to go with it. 3 out of 4 houses survived. sometimes no matter what you do you cannot affect the outcome, but if you do not try then there is no hope. FOOT.

        • It’s good you mentioned this. We have a program here called Tennessee Burn- wise. The Forestry dept will send someone out to your house or homestead and give you an evaluation on how and what is likely to happen during a wildfire, and tips for being less vulnerable. One of the biggest problems with the Gatlinburg fires was too many houses too close together in the woods. It was primarily a ground fire, because there was so much litter( leaves, downed trees, etc) on the forest floor. I don’t think any controlled burns had been done in over 30 years, and there are no zoning regs here, except in the tourist district. These “cabins” ( 4-8 bedrooms, 4 stories high, up to 5 baths and a pool) were heated by propane, which made the fires worse. Less than 20 feet between buildings, and they are usually made of logs. As soon as it was safe to do so, owners went in and started rebuilding on the original foundation, before any new regulations could take place. I will have to check a recent google map to see how reconstruction is going. We were told next time (because there WILL be a next time) will be far worse. No downtown buildings were affected, and business is back to normal. Scary thought.

      4. “Homestead?” The American family has been dead for a generation. What “Homestead?” Is this some sub-level of the Department of “Homeland” Security.

        • Nah, it’s a part of section 8 housing!

      5. Given that a drought here is a wet year for California, My property has been set up for surviving a wild fire by a California trained wild fire fighter.
        We do have wild fires BTW. I don’t have a barn for my cattle and mule, they use a Clump Bamboo or tree canopy, frankly it doesn’t get below 55 or above 85 here. My out-buildings are all metal so they don’t readily burn. My houses have metal roofs so embers are unlikely to set the house on fire. My point is an ounce of prevention is worth pounds of cure.
        Even when I was in Washington state although I had 100’s of trees I kept a good fire break around the house, shop, and animal shelter. I had free roaming pet Nubian goats that kept all the underbrush down.
        The down side of that was I had to replace some doors when a cougar or bear scared them and they wanted in the house! They were spoiled pets.

      6. too funny, LOL, i am amused by the gun rights guys on this site. All you gun rights guys can masturbate with your guns while you are dying in a nuclear war. And you all were fantasizing about your guns. What good did it do you? Freakin pathetic.

        • Hey TommyD. After the Nukes you and I survive. We meet up on a Country Road. Im carrying a Gun, you are not. Guess whose digging their own grave watching as I drink your beer and screw your wife and daughter.

          Thats the difference of what a gun can do for ya. Now Start Digging.

      7. Last Sept 11 Hurricane Irma hit FL. We spent a week prior securing everything down for the high winds and rain. Then after the hurricane we spent days cutting 85 ft tall oak trees out of the way to get out. Then within a week the flood waters came in an flooded our escape routes out and bridges washed out. We had to move everything up higher for flooding. After a full month of flood waters and finally receeded, we spent several more months cutting over 100 large uprooted trees that had fallen. The entire 4th quarter of 2017 we were in disaster recovery. Glad to have several good chain saws, extra chains, chain oil, chain sharpeners, knee high rubber boots, plenty of leather gloves, and Off Grid Solar Power. My unprepared neighbors had non working chain saws, no fuel oil. Just sloppy preparation. But they waste their money on playing scratch off lotto all the time. $5 and $10 scratch offs. $100 at a time for lotto tickets. Lol. Idiots, but hey good people with good hearts, but just not too bright and unprepared.

        I aready had all my chain saw gear in my SUV the day before the Hurricand came through in the middle of the night direct hit. And a big tree fell right in front of my vehicle and my chain saw was ready to deploy come daybreak and I cut it out of the way. Then surveyed the area an cut more trees blocking roads.

        Wildfires, fires, civil unreast and rioting, the plague, Nuke bombb, EMP, are ya ready and prepared?

        What you need to do is set up a Mutual Aid agreement with your neighbors ahead of time. Get them prepared for next time.

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