When you lived in the 'burbs you could just ask your girlfriend or next door neighbor to check in on Fido and Fluffy for the week and they'd be more than happy to oblige. Now that you're farming (or trying to farm) try asking your neighbors to water and feed the chickens, mule and horse along with feeding watering and milking your goats twice a day and see how many takers you get then. Not everyone can milk a goat or cow. And not everyone can wield a broomstick to keep the psycho-rooster at bay while filling water buckets and scooping out critter feed. Or should I say, not everyone wants to do those things. And honestly, I don't blame them.
When Rhiannon was born, we were fortunate enough that our next door neighbors and my mom took care of the cats, dog, chickens, goats and mule. The fact that I had just dried up the goats was another blessing. It was bad enough having to depend on family and neighbors to care for the animals for a month (while Rhiannon & I were in the hospital), but I couldn't imagine having to ask them to milk on top of everything else.
But I regress........
Last weekend, I had the chance to Farmsit for a fellow firefighter. A few weeks ago she had mentioned something about leaving for a short weekend and I jumped on the opportunity to help her out. Of course, she also said she'd be more than willing to reciprocate when we went out of town. And she knows how to milk! I almost feel kind of guilty because I've been really looking for an opportunity to help her out knowing that she's the kind of lady that would help us out when we needed it.
She has a horse, mini-horse, a young steer, a dozen laying hens, a cat and two dozen Cornish meat birds. Even though they were only going to be gone for a day & a half, the critters needed tending to.
The horses have their own outdoor run that is attached to their individual stalls and the steer calf had his own paddock. The laying hens roost indoors at night and their run is attached and fully enclosed. The Cornish also have their own secure pen outdoors. The cat is an outdoor / barn cat.
It was as easy as pie, even with Rhiannon in tow! I had gone over to her place the day before they left and we went over everything. Even though it sounds like a ton of work, it went quickly and smoothly. She had all the horse and cow feed scooped out into individual buckets and hay already flaked off, just needing to be tossed into the animal pens. She filled the feed and water bins to the top for both the laying hens and the Cornish. All I had to do was top off the water and scoop a bucket of chicken food for the Cornish (gluttons that they are, ate two days worth of food in just one day), toss some chicken scratch treats for the layers, collect eggs and pet the cat.
|E-Z says, "Hey, you're not my Mom.....but since you're here,|
toss me some hay & grain, will ya??"
|Rhiannon feeding the steak, I mean, steer calf.|
So don't be afraid to ask around or even be the first to provide your Farmsitting services. It's definately a wonderful thing knowing someone can be there for your critters when you can't.