Are you and your farm ready for a natural disaster or emergency? There is no way you can prepare your farm for every emergency in every way, but a little preparation can go a long way.

After our farm came under threat from the wildfires of 2020 that burned over a million acres in Oregon, we got a wake-up call. We received another reminder in wildfire preparedness yet again last week as a fire started right next door on our neighbor’s property and burned a little over 10 acres.

Nothing gets your adrenaline going like facing those emergency situations head on. The climate change has definitely shifted what we consider one of our most likely emergency situations to being wildfire. Our last recorded rainfall was in the beginning of May, which seems to be the new summer trend. Those long periods with zero moisture kind of leaves us sitting in a very dry tinderbox. While we didn’t think we’d be facing the same threat as in 2020 just a few years later again, we were glad for the reminder.

Every farm’s most likely natural disaster event is going to differ. Preparedness is about assessing where the greatest risk might be and taking steps to minimize it. In our situation, it’s keeping the flammable fuel load around the barns low and having a plan with our fire department. At the very least, designate who your first call will be (beyond 911). This should be someone who you trust to help organize and facilitate what your farm might need for outside help.

Natural disasters feel like the emergency that is hardest to plan for. But there are many dangerous situations that can arise on the farm. Equipment malfunctions, cow handling injuries, and barn fires are all possibilities. When is the last time you had a safety meeting? Make sure that all employees and family members are on the same page.

We all hope we never have to deal with an unthinkable emergency. Let this serve as your reminder to not put off those safety steps we know we should be taking. Get that fire extinguisher back in the tractor. Take the time to execute the steps you can to be prepared for an emergency on your farm.

Darleen Sichley

The author is a third-generation dairy farmer from Oregon where she farms in partnership with her husband and parents. As a mother of young sons who round out the family-run operation as micro managers, Darleen blogs about the three generations of her family working together at Guernsey Dairy Mama. Abiqua Acres Mann's Guernsey Dairy is currently home to 90 registered Guernseys and transitioned to a robotic milking system in 2017.