It’s inevitable. Sometimes you need to go away and sometimes you just want to go away. When you have chickens (or other animals), a little planning is needed before you pack those bags.
Certain animals can be boarded. We have done that in the past…when we had one dog. But now? We have 2 dogs, 5 cats, 8 chickens, and 2 cows. Boarding is not exactly an option anymore.
If you go away for a day trip, a friend or neighbor can minimally take care of your animals. If gone for longer periods of time a farm sitter is a good choice. They stay at your house/farm and tend to the daily grind. It’s a good idea to entice the deal by stocking some of their favorite food. Farm sitting can be a great experience for someone thinking of starting a farm. They get to experience not only the hard work that goes into running a farm, but also the fun things like gathering eggs and cooking with them. Because the farm sitters are providing a service, you may want to pay them. In return, you should expect them to take good care of your farm and animals.
For this to go smoothly for all involved, I make a list. (I make lists for everything, just ask my children.) This particular list is a job description, if you will. I specify times to do the feedings, amounts to be fed, where the food is kept, and what time to shut up the chickens. Our animals are on a schedule. Just like humans are on some type of schedule for eating/sleeping, I think animals should be also. It doesn’t have to be exact, but within a time frame (8:00 ish). Something I do if we are using a new farm sitter is a run through. I have them visit our farm in the morning, if possible, and walk through the schedule with me. This way it’s not just a list, but also a visual. This also gives them the opportunity to ask questions along the way.
Obviously, leave your contact number for the farm sitter to reach you if needed. It’s also a great idea to leave contact numbers for someone that lives close by in case there is a ‘hands on emergency’. Make sure you let that person know that they are ‘on call’.
Taking time to create a list and working through that list with your farm sitter gives peace of mind to all involved, including your beloved animals.