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October 21, 2018

Can You Take a Vacation from Your Homestead?


Can you take a vacation from your homestead?

Maybe this post should be titled "Rosie's Adventure." Read on to find out why.


Now that we have grandchildren, hubby and I want to be able to travel a bit. Is it possible to leave the homestead?

Yes... and no.

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We've managed to visit our grown children in other states about once a year for the past couple of years. I also usually go once by myself while hubby stays home, and he goes alone later in the year while I stay home; occasionally we can work in another short trip together. We're not taking an extended vacation by any means, but it's nice to be able to go spend time with family and we appreciate traveling together when we can.

Here are my tips for taking a vacation from your homestead.


Can you take a vacation from the homestead? Plan ahead and prepare carefully - and be flexible.

If you have dairy goats...

We've had dairy goats for the past 15 years, and I'm often asked if we can take a vacation. I've managed to do so, but it does take a lot of planning.

By planning our kidding season - and planning breeding season to accomplish that kidding season - I've been able to time our vacation pretty well. I'd travel after kidding season was over and before the kids were weaned. Because my normal routine was to milk once a day and let the kids nurse the rest of the day, I could simply leave the kids with the does while I was gone, and it wasn't necessary to have someone milk the goats.

Unless I had a rejected kid that needed to be bottle fed, or a doe who lost her kids and had to be milked. Either situation will throw a wrench in the works. It can be hard to find someone who knows how to milk goats. Hubby will feed the livestock for me, but he does not milk goats.


Can you travel away from your homestead? Yes... but....

Finding a farm-sitter

I've asked goat-owning friends to  "farm sit" for us, coming once a day to milk the goats if it was necessary, and to feed all of the livestock. One spring my bottle kids went to a friend's homestead while we were gone.

But that's a lot to ask of friends, for sure. Eventually it became easier for me to travel during the winter, after I'd dried off the does and they didn't need to be milked. Winter chores are a lot more work though and the weather can be fickle; I hate asking someone to go to that much trouble. Plus the places where our children live have much worse winter weather than we do here in Oklahoma, so it isn't the ideal time for us to travel anyway.

Several years ago I stopped breeding my goats for various reasons. I still have two does, but I'm no longer milking them. This definitely makes it easier to find a farm-sitter, and easier to travel during the non-winter months.

A family down the road has teenagers who are willing to come feed my animals while we're out of town. But teenagers will inevitably grow up and eventually they won't be available any more. We are taking advantage of the opportunity to travel a bit now, while we have their help.

The farm sitter is encouraged to take the chickens' eggs home with them each day, and I pay the teens for their time and gas. Of course, I also have to plan our travel around the neighbors' school and vacation schedule. Sometimes a trusted friend and her son can pitch in if our neighbors can't.


By planning ahead and preparing very carefully, you can take a vacation from the homestead, but you have to be flexible and you better have a sense of humor too.

Plan and prepare well

Traveling when you have livestock and chickens requires careful planning in advance. I don't raise meat chicks, have eggs in the incubator, or have garden seedlings or transplants that need extra care while I'm gone. Even if I'm traveling alone and hubby stays home, I avoid these "extras." My chickens are confined to the coop and run while we're away. The horses have a round bale if there isn't enough grass in the pasture so my farm sitter won't have to give them hay each day.

I make things as easy for the farm sitter as I can. Animals are moved to the most convenient locations. I make sure there is plenty of feed and hay, and that it's easy for my farm-sitter to access. The wire cutters are stored with the goats' hay bales. I leave a detailed note explaining what needs to be done. Fenceline feeders make it easy for the farm sitter to feed without having to go in the pen with animals they don't know.


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I do as much as possible before we leave town: fill the water troughs, water the garden and fruit trees deeply, and so on. The 3-gallon and 7-gallon poultry waterers (affiliate links) are filled, and 2-gallon jugs of water are filled and put next to the coop since it's so far away from the water faucet.


I've been able to travel away from the homestead on several occasions, but this time it all went south!

Rosie's adventure (sometimes it all "goes south")

We recently traveled to visit our children and grandchildren. I prepared for the farm-sitters' chores as usual. But we all know that animals are unpredictable and that homesteaders have to be flexible.

Upset that we were gone, our livestock guardian dog (you'll recognize this photo of Rosie from a post last week) somehow wiggled her way out of the goat pen and then couldn't figure out how to get back in. She's wary of strangers, and our farm-sitters couldn't get her back through the gate without letting the goats out. After a day or two, hubby and I decided that going home early was the best course of action. We didn't want her to start wandering and decide that she enjoyed adventuring. We worried that she'd leave and not be able to find her way back home, that she'd get hurt by a coyote or other wild animal, or that she'd get out on the road and be hit by a car.

Small towns whizzed passed our car windows and mountains gave way to prairie as we made the two-day drive back home. Our farm-sitters reported that Rosie was sticking close to home. On the day we arrived home it rained and rained and rained and I worried about her without the shelter of the goat shed.

But within minutes of my opening the front gate and calling her name Rosie was at the fence, very happy to see us. She was mostly dry in spite of the rain, and had a few ticks and burrs in her thick red-and-white coat. Hubby opened the back gate into the goat pen and she walked in. I hope she didn't wander far to find that huge probably-bovine leg bone she carried in with her.


Rosie, our LGD, brought this home while we were gone on vacation. I wonder how far she roamed to find it?

So, can you take a vacation from your homestead?

Maybe... or maybe not. A lot depends on your own comfort level - and on your animals. If you have great friends and neighbors who can take over while you're gone, you are blessed indeed. Plan well and prepare ahead of time, making your farm sitter's workload as easy as possible. But you may have to be flexible and willing to go home early to take care of something that only you can handle.

Here is the plan of action I use:

  • travel when farm chores are light
  • avoid having "extra" projects going while you're gone
  • use fenceline feeders so livestock can be fed through the fence
  • move hay and feed to a convenient place
  • fill all the water troughs and bowls before you leave
  • water the garden and landscaping deeply
  • have a back-up plan and be flexible


Have you gone on vacation? How did it go?


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Related Posts:
When to Breed Your Goats
How and Why to Milk Once a Day
Drying off Your Dairy Goats


Can you take a vacation from your homestead? Here's how.


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops

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4 comments:

  1. I did a test run before we went on vacation one year. I had an automatic feeder set up for the goats. But you and I know how wily goats can be. Even though we reinforced it with a heavy wood cover, they learned that if they kick and head butt it enough, it'll force more kernels down the chute.

    It took them three days to destroy it. I'm glad we tested it before we actually took our vacation. In the end we had to call on a friend to feed them, but I hated to impose.

    To make things easier, I pre-measured feed for every animal on the farm and labeled it. All she had to do was pour.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A test run is an excellent idea, especially with something new like that. And yes, I know what goats are like! LOL - too smart for their own good, if you ask me.

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  3. I never thought about how complicated it could be to arrange a vacation with a homestead, Kathi! This post will be so helpful for those who need creative solutions to this issue! Thank you for sharing, and for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Link Party. Hope you are having a great weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, April. I hope you're having a great weekend too. I'll see you next week at the Hearth and Soul party. :-)

      Delete

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