Farm Sitting

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Farm sitting for friends ~ Taking care of goats.

Farm sitting for friends ~ Taking care of goats.

Farm Sitting?

If you’ve never lived on a farm, this term may sound weird. But for those of us with livestock, having a reliable farm sitter can help preserve your sanity. We wouldn’t be able to vacation and keep animals if we didn’t have friends down the road who take over the chores for us. And I’m happy to return the favor when they go out of town!

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Are you here to feed us?

Are you here to feed us?

 

So last weekend my friends, Mama Marcy and Farmer Trogg from Trogg’s Hollow Farm, went to pick up their order of peaches in Southern Illinois. This meant I got to play with goats for a few days! I still miss having my own goats and taking care of theirs got my goat fix taken care of for little while. ๐Ÿ™‚


A little help?

A little help?

 

It reminded me that goats can be quite a handful at times! The Trogg’s Hollow goats are very well behaved and the biggest issue was this little imp who kept getting her horns caught in the fence. I had my first experience with milking Dwarf Nigerians…much less drama than my old goats. Not as much milk either, but they are definitely cute little things.

The poultry were no big deal to take care of…they just didn’t like to go in their coop at night. Oh, and they swarmed underfoot whenever they saw a feed scoop. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Feeding Frenzy!

Feeding Frenzy!

 

Preparing Instructions for Your Farm Sitter

If you are planning to go on vacation, make sure you leave detailed instructions for your farm sitter. It’s also a very good idea to have them over and go through the chores once, maybe twice if they are newbies. This gives them a chance to ask questions while you are there. Have them do a dry run with you if they are nervous, inexperienced, or the chores are extensive.

Some important information to include on your instruction sheet:

  • Your cell phone # and the # where you are staying
  • Phone # of a back up person, just in case
  • Vet’s phone #, just in case
  • Morning and evening instructions for each animal or group of livestock, including amount of food, how often to milk dairy animals, collect eggs, check water, etc.
  • Security codes, if necessary
  • Any extra instructions, such as picking up mail, turning on outside light, watering garden, caring for pets, medications, etc.
  • Dates and timesย you are leaving and returning. Be sure to communicate this info ahead of time to make sure your vacation will be covered. Ask your farm sitter if they are available for an extra day in case you are delayed.


Farm Sitting Swag!

Farm Sitting Swag!

 

Anything Else?

Of course, you might think of something you forgot after you get on the road, so bring your farm sitter’s phone number with you so you can call.

It’s always nice to bring a little farm sitting swag back with you…check out the nummies I received!

You might be able to advertise your services as a chicken sitter or farm sitter on Craigslist. If so, be very careful about who you work for. It’s advisable to check references and make sure that they’re trustworthy. You may charge for your services and make a little extra cash. You might even keep the eggs or milk you collect.

Be sure you don’t take on more than you can handle in your free time. A full blown dairy operation or large farm is likely to be a bigger challenge that one person can take on. Be sure you know what you are getting into well ahead of time. You don’t want to bow out at the last minute leaving your farmer with no one to care for his or her animals.

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10 comments on “Farm Sitting

  1. llbean719

    Thanks for the article. We are new to homesteading and though we would like sheep, bees and chickens we have hesitated because it seemed impossible to leave the animals. A farm sitter is a great idea!
    Lisa

    Reply
  2. Lisa Lynn Post author

    Good advice! Sorry to hear that there were so many issues with livestock loss over the years, but the longer you keep animals, the more likely you are to lose them. It’s part of living on a farm. Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    Excellent tales!!!! You all have a lot to learn, but it’s fun as it goes. I think the biggest thing one has to get over when they leave someone else in charge , is to make sure your sitter feels no guilt if something dies!! I exchange chores in the neighbourhood where I was born right here on the farm, and my parents did the same before me. A neighbour with sheep always sets out a garbage bag lined barrel, in spring at lambing incase I have deaths! just this spring we left my neighbour who also has been on this road for 58 year, in charge of the few animals we have left….first day of the trip the geriatric pet horse of 26 years slipped fell, and died over night!,!
    Today’s calamities pale to when I was 2 and my parents decided to shut the house up, hire a hired man for three months and go back to England to visit(post war, so my Dad had not been back for 12 years) The prize sow died, the milk cows got bangs desease(brucellosis). needless to say the farm income was lost for months.
    so don,t fret…..whether it is your prize rooster who dies, or if you are the sitter and he dies on your watch, it happens to all of us. I used to fuss…not wanting to leave a herd of Limousin beef cattle, flock of goats and various farm yard pets, and take a break….Once we had children they came first and it was time to take a few trips….One thing after close to 6 decades on the farm you learn….there’s a cycle to life and for every goat that dies.. there’s another waiting to be adopted,,!
    Oh yes …as I write this I am on day 14 of 16, doing chores at my neighbours, This time it includes keeping ahead of the raspberries, beans and cucs!!
    those perks of it all..
    Plus they have beef cattle and we no longer, so I too call it my ” cow fix”!!!
    Enjoy your choring!!

    Reply
  4. Ellen C.

    We didn’t go anywhere together for 3 years because of the inability to find a sitter who could take care of a mini-horse, chickens, goose, duck & three little house dogs. So many people are scared of chickens and too afraid to collect eggs under a laying hen. My little horse also needs medication administered which is a simple task for me but for others it is like moving a mountain! I don’t count on my friends to sit for me – I house sat for friends who had 2 horses, 2 donkeys, chickens and 2 dogs. Did this for a week and slept over with the dogs getting up very early to clean stalls and feed horses and donkeys, drove home to do my own chores and then go to work. When it came my turn for reciprocating, they backed out at the last minute (friends no more!) I did finally find a great sitter with animal experience and she did a wonderful job but I also pay her $100 a day. Worth every penny!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Wow, Ellen…that’s too bad that your ‘friends’ didn’t come through for you, after all you did for them! I’m very happy that I have friends who are ok with taking care of my chickens and they say it’s ‘no big deal!’ I’m glad you found someone and the price really isn’t bad. I paid almost that much for two dogs at a kennel!

      Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  5. Rebecca

    My farm sitter down the road is a retired teacher with lots of energy. I take care of her two cats and flowers several weekends in exchange for her farm sitting one weekend for me, horses, chickens, ducks, dogs, & cats. I let her keep the eggs she collects, and anything she wants in my veg garden. She loves sharing with several of her neighbors as she uses little herself. Though she loves the job, I do feel like I should limit my requests to two weekends per summer as I think I get the best end of the deal ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Rebecca,
      That’s wonderful that you have a reliable and enthusiastic farm sitter right down the road from you! It’s always advisable not to ask too much of others! But it’s great that you can get away ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
      1. Rebecca

        I did learn a lesson while I was beginning to raise chickens. My Dad had offered to take care of the chickens, and I walked him through the chores, explained why a few chickens were isolated, and I wrote nothing down. When I returned I found that he had put an isolated chick in with a hen who had chicks, and the hen instantly killed the foreign chick. He had not remembered all the details I told him, and he was traumatized by the “crazy” behavior of the mother hen. Of course he did not understand what sets off a mother hen, and I learned that l had to write everything down and should not expect any forknowledge. Also, I will think carefully before I accept help from a well-meaning person who has no farm experience.

        Reply
        1. Lisa Lynn Post author

          That’s so sad ๐Ÿ™ I’m sorry that it didn’t work out well that time. Yes, a detailed list of instructions is a must!

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