Baby Alpaca In The Kitchen: Waiting For Florence On The Farm As Hurricane Florence hits North Carolina, Amanda McKee's only concern is for her animals at 1870 Farm outside Chapel Hill.
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Baby Alpaca In The Kitchen: Waiting For Florence On The Farm

(Top) Tiffany Breindel, program director at 1870 Farm, prepares to put an identification tag in calf Romeo's tail the day before Hurricane Florence hits Chapel Hill, N.C. (Left) Luis Morales catches chickens to put them in the coop before they board it up. (Right) Breindel attaches an identification tag to a horse's mane. Madeline Gray for NPR hide caption

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(Top) Tiffany Breindel, program director at 1870 Farm, prepares to put an identification tag in calf Romeo's tail the day before Hurricane Florence hits Chapel Hill, N.C. (Left) Luis Morales catches chickens to put them in the coop before they board it up. (Right) Breindel attaches an identification tag to a horse's mane.

Madeline Gray for NPR

As Hurricane Florence hits North Carolina, Amanda McKee's only concern is for her animals at 1870 Farm outside Chapel Hill. McKee and her husband, David Schwartz, transformed the nearly 150-year-old farm, and another in Durham, into an agritourism destination that now houses horses, donkeys, a cow, alpacas, goats, sheep, chickens and a host of other animals, including a baby alpaca named Xanadu that lives with the family full time.

Before the storm, McKee says, she could tell the animals were acting more alert and skittish than usual as they sensed the storm in the air. "They just seem much more aware of their surroundings," she says.

Amanda McKee, owner of 1870 Farm, leads her baby alpaca, Xanadu, into the farm office before finalizing preparations for the storm. McKee says that many of the animals on the agritourism farm are rescues with traumatic pasts and that moving them to artificial environments for the storm will only add to their stress. Madeline Gray for NPR hide caption

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Amanda McKee, owner of 1870 Farm, leads her baby alpaca, Xanadu, into the farm office before finalizing preparations for the storm. McKee says that many of the animals on the agritourism farm are rescues with traumatic pasts and that moving them to artificial environments for the storm will only add to their stress.

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Despite numerous offers to take the animals to facilities out of the storm's path, McKee is keeping them on the farm. She says she is determined to keep their routine as normal as possible, especially because most of her animals are rescues. She and her team launched a "monumental" effort to prepare the farm and the animals.

McKee, who was a practicing veterinarian for over 20 years, takes a holistic approach to caring for her animals. "If we put them in the barn, they'd freak out," she explains.

Breindel (left) and Sharron Payne take a momentary break from preparations. Madeline Gray for NPR hide caption

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McKee (left) and Breindel discuss preparations for Hurricane Florence while Xanadu tags along. Madeline Gray for NPR hide caption

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McKee (left) and Breindel discuss preparations for Hurricane Florence while Xanadu tags along.

Madeline Gray for NPR

Although the animals have often traumatic pasts, McKee continues, "they have become very, very comfortable here and are stressed when they leave." Part of the animals' routine includes having a neighbor come to the farm to feed them twice a day, which will happen even during the storm. McKee will head home with Xanadu in tow to wait out the hurricane with her family.

McKee and her staff worked nonstop to ensure the farm is prepared. They microchipped many of the animals, put identification tags in their manes and tails, ordered a two-week supply of food, have geothermal water troughs that refill automatically, have removed any additional debris from around the farm and made all of the animals' shelters more secure.

Breindel (left) puts an identification tag in a horse's mane as McKee leads up another horse in advance of the storm. The staff has microchipped all of the animals, given them identification tags, ordered a two-week supply of food and secured all of the shelters on the property. Madeline Gray for NPR hide caption

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Madeline Gray for NPR

Breindel (left) puts an identification tag in a horse's mane as McKee leads up another horse in advance of the storm. The staff has microchipped all of the animals, given them identification tags, ordered a two-week supply of food and secured all of the shelters on the property.

Madeline Gray for NPR

McKee said she feels a sense of calm. She knew there was nothing more to be done except wait to get back to her animals after the storm passes.

The animals "did great" on Thursday night as the storm hit, she said. "They are super frisky today."

Breindel carries a box of baby chicks to the car so volunteers can take them home to care for them during the hurricane. When 1870 Farm asked for help caring for its smaller animals during the storm, it received over 200 emails with offers to foster animals until it was safe for them to return home. Madeline Gray for NPR hide caption

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Madeline Gray for NPR

Breindel carries a box of baby chicks to the car so volunteers can take them home to care for them during the hurricane. When 1870 Farm asked for help caring for its smaller animals during the storm, it received over 200 emails with offers to foster animals until it was safe for them to return home.

Madeline Gray for NPR

(Top) Breindel (from left), Sharron Payne, Blake Sheridan and McKee head over to the goat pen after microchipping an alpaca. (Left) McKee scans a microchip she just implanted in Geoff the alpaca. (Right) Morales boards up the chicken coop. Madeline Gray for NPR hide caption

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Madeline Gray for NPR

(Top) Breindel (from left), Sharron Payne, Blake Sheridan and McKee head over to the goat pen after microchipping an alpaca. (Left) McKee scans a microchip she just implanted in Geoff the alpaca. (Right) Morales boards up the chicken coop.

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Payne gives Oreo the goat a hug. Madeline Gray for NPR hide caption

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Payne gives Oreo the goat a hug.

Madeline Gray for NPR

Madeline Gray is a photographer based in Raleigh, N.C.