Summer Vacations, just the words spark vivid memories in my mind. Hot days, cool nights, fireflies strobe lighting the scene as summer scented breezes dance around. Lazy days where nothing really has to be done, but to sit back and enjoy yourself and maybe a new experience here and there. Each summer, we try to plan lots of mini vacations so that our boys still get the experience of getting away but our animals and responsibilities at home are not interrupted for too long.
When getting chickens, the first thing I did not think of was are there any chicken sitters in the area. Mostly, I thought about fluffy butts and eggs, all the fun parts of raising chickens. Alas, reality sets in and you have to make adjustments so that childhood and chickens do not get neglected. Those summer day dreams and long weekends at the lake involve having my parents drop by and take over chicken duty. My mom grew up with horses and cows, but no chickens so education was my first step preparing my chicken sitter, ie. mom, to take on chicken keeping duties so that my family and I could go play.
My first order of business is to give my coop a good cleaning. This involves checking on the liter and sifting and adding bedding as well as raking out the run. This is one job that I can take care of before we leave that makes chicken sitting a little easier. The rest requires some organization and maybe a shopping trip to be sure your supplies are fully stocked before you go.
Tips for Vacation Planning and Preparing Your Chicken Sitter:
- Clean the Coop. This includes removing soiled bedding, wiping down your coop walls and windows. Cleaning your nest boxes and feed and water containers and raking out your run. All matters of freshening up. Some tips on cleaning your coop the natural way can be found here.
- Find A Sitter You Trust. Do they have chicken keeping experience? Are they comfortable around birds? References available? These are some of the questions you can ask to know who you are leaving your chickens with. Have your sitter come out and go through the routine with you a couple times before you leave them alone the first time.
- Put It All Together. Keeping all the supplies your chicken sitter will need together in one place will make taking care of your chickens easier. Feed, clean feeders and waterers, extra bedding, rakes, scoops and fly spray. By keeping these things all together in one location, you will save your chicken sitter time and energy.
- Lists. He’s making a list and he’s checking it twice… oops, wrong song. Kidding aside, make a list of how you take care of your chickens. Give detailed instructions of how you want your chickens cared for. I have 2 lists, one for morning care and one for evening care. Here is an example:
Morning Care: Look over outside of coop and run to be sure all fencing is intact and no predators did any damage over night. Open coop door to run. Scoop droppings. Fill feeders. Fill Waterers. Spray area with fly spay. Give scratch grains or treats. Collect eggs. Make sure run doors are shut.
Evening Care: Collect eggs. Refresh food and water if needed. When closing coop for the night. Count chickens, remove feed and secure doors and windows.
- Create Emergency Contact Information. This should include all your contact information as well as your veterinarian information. I also keep a chicken first aid kit handy. My chicken sitter is comfortable with treating minor bumps and scrapes so I leave all the supplies she may need.
Being a backyard chicken keeper does not mean you are glued to your home with no vacations left in site. You can enjoy a getaway and be able to relax with just a few tips to prepare your flock and your chicken sitter. When making your lists, it is amazing to see what you do as routine like checking for predator damage, all get spelled out on paper. Organization is key when leaving your birds in someone else’s hands.
We recently returned from a baseball tournament in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. It is a beautiful area. We enjoyed the ball games as well as touring some area horse farms and the Louisville Slugger Bat Factory and Museum. I must admit though, I am glad to be home and back into our family routine.