Can You Take a Vacation from Your Homestead?

Can you take a vacation from your homestead?

Maybe this post should be subtitled "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 once a year for the past couple of years. I sometimes go once by myself in the spring 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 our 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.

First, 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 all of my goats had kidded 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

Finding a farm-sitter is key to being able to travel.

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. Winter isn't the ideal time for us to travel anyway.

A family down the road had teenagers who were willing to come feed my animals while we're out of town. But teenagers inevitably grow up and eventually they weren't available any more. I'm glad we were able to take advantage of the opportunity to travel a bit while they were able and willing.

Now a trusted friend and her son take care of our livestock for us while we travel.

Our farm sitter is encouraged to take the chickens' eggs home with them each day, and I pay them for their time and gas. Of course, I also have to plan our travel around our friends' work and vacation schedules. 

A homesteading friend of mine, Amber at My Homestead Life, has some tips on how to find a farm-sitter if you don't have friends, family or neighbors to watch your livestock or garden. In addition you'll find some great ideas for FREE vacations too.

If Amber lived closer to me, we could swap vacation homestead-sitting chores, but alas she is several states away. If you are lucky enough to know a fellow homesteader who lives nearby, you are blessed!

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." 

I make things as easy for the farm sitter as I can. 

  • The chickens are confined to the coop and run while we're away.
  • The horses have a round bale of hay if there isn't enough grass in the pasture
  • All animals are moved to the most convenient locations
  • There is plenty of feed and hay so the farm sitter won't run short
  • Feed and hay is stored where it's easy for the farm sitter to access
  • Wire cutters are stored with the square hay bales 

I leave a detailed note explaining what needs to be done. Fence-line feeders make it easy for the farm sitter to feed without having to go in the pen with animals they don't know. Rosie, our Great Pyrenees/Anatolian livestock guardian dog, isn't happy with strangers coming in her goat pen.

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I do as much as possible before we leave town

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

Know that sometimes it will all "go south"

Last summer we 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 Rosie climbed or 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 of worrying about the situation, 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, 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 the second day 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 right in. I hope she didn't wander far to find that huge 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 fence-line feeders so livestock can be fed over 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

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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.

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