Farm sitters?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Tessynae, Jan 5, 2007.

  1. Tessynae

    Tessynae Well-Known Member

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    My DH and I don't have our homestead YET, but when we do and want to take a vacation who can get to watch over the animals? I have done a little research and found that "farm sitters" are very popular in Australia but had a hard time finding many in the US and none in Oregon.

    Does anyone have any experience with farm sitters?

    What do homesteaders do when they need/want to leave for a couple of days? (or is that just not done :p )
     
  2. kirsten

    kirsten Well-Known Member

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    HI. Every farmer or rancher I know of has a friend rancher with whom they coordinate all trips and vacations during the year and they take turns watching each other's place. Either that or they get a retired farmer who has moved to town to do the chores for them when gone.

    When we lived in MO we had friends like that. They both worked all day long so I might even pop over in the afternoons on freaky hot days to check their stock and help them cool off.

    Since we moved to SD, we haven't found ranch friends yet and so take our trips separately. Make friends or you are out of luck. Even town folk will like to help you out but you have to make sure they are qualified to do so and strong- it is important to be strong, so not too old. There is a guy friend of mine that I might have let watch my place with experience but he fell down feeding bottle lambs so how can he wrestle ewes or throw bales or lug fifty pounds around or that much in water? Even helpful, nice people may not be qualified to struggle with your operation. The right people are hard to find especially for a new person in that area where everyone already has their farm vacation buddy.

    kirsten
     

  3. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We pretty much just don't do it. We haven't had a vacation since moving onto the farm (almost three years) and when the two of us do have to go somewhere together for a few days we do it when my son is between college semesters. He is the only one we trust to come and stay with the animals for a few days.
     
  4. AnnaS

    AnnaS Well-Known Member

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    The feed store is a good place to find a "farm sitter"- I found mine there. Lots of reliable knowledgeable folks there. You can always hire someone if you can't trade chores.

    I pay my relief milker-that's usually the most expensive part of my 4 day annual vacation- but knowing that the girls are taken care of is worth it. I don't think I'd want a "volunteer" doing something as important as milking.
     
  5. full sun

    full sun Well-Known Member

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    I have used a farm sitter twice for my animals (since I moved here in August). Fortunately for me, they were easy to find. They advertised. They charged $14 a day to come out once per day. They fed and watered the horses, chickens and goats and milked one goat. They would come out as many times as I needed, but I figured with all animals turned out 24/7, once a day was good enough. I have left for 4 days and then 7 days. Everything worked out very well. No problems. I put each critters daily portion of food (mainly I was worried about the horses) in ziploc bag, labelled it and sorted them all to make daily kits for the sitters. And then of course cell phone numbers, vet's numbers, etc.... I always worry a little, but it's nice to get away.

    Jennifer
     
  6. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    Also check with the techs at your vet clinic. Many of them do sitting on the side, if it can fit within their work schedule. I'm lucky enough to be within a mile or so of my vet, so the tech can swing by here on her way in with no problem. And she'll recognize any problems if something comes up, and get the vet out there.

    Meg
     
  7. Deb862

    Deb862 Well-Known Member

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    We knew someone that operated a 300-head sheep ranch and they took a 3-week vacation to Alaska one year. When I asked her how they were able to manage that she said that there was an "agency" they went to (I believe national?) that set them up with a qualified person who agreed to come and stay at their place for the 3 weeks in exchange for room/board and $400/week. Surprisingly, the relief hand turned out to be a female in college from Kansas. They were a little worried that she could handle everything but the flock was on pasture then and they said she managed extremely well. In fact, they hired her 2 or 3 consecutive years also. I don't have much more information than it was some national agency (like temp work agencies) for farms and ranches. This was a few years back so don't know if there is anything still out there like that but you could check online, possibly Farm Bureau may know?. Does anyone here have any knowledge of such an agency?
     
  8. Shadow

    Shadow Well-Known Member

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    That is the reason we chose not to have animals, we have three huge dogs but that is it. Neighbors with animals seldom if ever are gone over night from home, Homesteading is a life that takes lots of time and work.
    That is probably why farmers children usually do not farm or homestead. Next door neighbor has four children and none are interested. I have two neither are interested. Theirs and mine can make tons more money and do it much easier working a job. One of mine is a rocket sicentest with NASA and the other is an accountant. Would starve with the best garden in the world.
     
  9. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    This is exactly what I do. It's the only way either my neighbor or I would be able to get away, and it works really well for both of us.
     
  10. DaleK

    DaleK Well-Known Member

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    We just don't go anywhere. With 80 cows to milk and everything else, when it comes to bringing anyone in to replace me that doesn't know my routine I have to hire at least 2 people to do the same work. Going rate around here for milkings/chore times only is a minimum of $60/person/milking so any kind of vacation costs me at least $240/day for labour before paying for anything else.
     
  11. wildhorse

    wildhorse Well-Known Member

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    We just dont go because theres not anyone I can trust.
     
  12. jill.costello

    jill.costello Well-Known Member

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    I want to second the Vet Tech advice. These are very responsible people with alot of good training and making very little money; most Techs I know make very little money at it, and the extra cash is well appreciated.

    After knowing my vet and his 2 techs for just under a year, there is nothing I wouldn't trust those techs to do while I was away; pretty much, if my Vet (who I trust completely) keeps them on and trusts them, then I trust them!
     
  13. ldc

    ldc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I used to be a farm sitter. Don't know how that started as it was a long time ago. I've seen a fwew ads for such in the Caretaker Gazette (www.caretaker.org) under "short-term" positions. Where I live now, I know several vet techs and think that is a good bet. ldc
     
  14. DenverGirlie

    DenverGirlie Well-Known Member

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    I would second this website.
     
  15. Tessynae

    Tessynae Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. I truly love HT, everyone is always so eager to share their knowledge and help others out!
     
  16. COSunflower

    COSunflower Country Girl Supporter

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    One of my best friends is a "farm sitter". She will go to the place twice a day and feed and check things out etc. and she will also stay at a place 24/7 if the people ask. She is pretty flexible as to what people need done with their stock. I have had a neighboring retired farmer take care of mine till he got so old that I was worried about him doing too much. Then I had him "supervise" the two kids next door. They did the work and he got to boss :) You might also check out 4-H kids and FFA kids (the older ones) - They have been good for me. (I have access to them thru the school). I don't have any heavy duty milking or stock care though - just hobby farm stuff. The vet tech is a really good idea too. I'm going to remember that as I have a rural vet clinic just 2 blocks from me!
     
  17. Belly Acre

    Belly Acre Well-Known Member

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    I use a local family that is on a set income and they appreciate small jobs for extra money. They also have most all the animals I have so they are knowledgable of what they are taking care of. One of the things you must remember when you hire someone is they will do things their way unless you tell them that you want things done your way. That may require you to pay them for extra days so that they can come and observe how you want things done.
    I do know, when I return from my trips (yes I take multiple, throughout the year) my animals are happy, healthy and fed BUT there will be water in every bowl, bucket or anything that will hold it! For some reason they are extremely paranoid about the animals having enough water. Not a problem for me I appreciate that they are so willing to watch over my babies and are concerned about their welfare.
     
  18. Wolf mom

    Wolf mom Well-Known Member

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    I found a church member that will come in the late afternoon, feed, water, collect eggs, etc. stay overnight then feed, water, do what else needs doing in the AM then leave for the day. Costs $30.00 for overnight or $100.00 for 5 days. Expensive, but well worth not having to worry.

    I found this is the best as it's not always easy to reciprocate with neighbors and sometimes they do things on their schedule...
     
  19. KCM

    KCM Well-Known Member

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    My farm isn't very large but we do have some livestock. I still have taken only one vacation in the past 6 years.
    For many of us it's a matter of finances. The farm just isn't big enough to substantiate additional expenses.
    I have been thinking of taking on a part-time hired hand this year to increase our yeilds, and if I do then that person might become a reliable source who could provide vacation relief. It depends upon a lot of things going right though.
     
  20. forestdweller

    forestdweller Active Member

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    We have a small farm with several horses, donkeys, ducks, two dogs and two cats. We are very fortunate that we have the neighbours next door. They LOVE taking care of our animals while we are away...and we are sometimes gone quite often. My job requires some field work away from home in the summer (as does my husbands) and while we try to work it out so at least one of us is home, it doesn't always work out that way. We also like to travel and take long canoe/camping trips.

    We either pay our neighbours to take care of the animals, or trade for like. (They will have us mind their animals while they are gone on a trip). The only time that we actually pay them, is when I feel that the work load is starting to get off balance, or if they have to do some sort of extra work of feeding schedule when we are gone. They always make a fuss over getting paid though, because they (as do we) consider each other friends, and don't think friends should pay each other to do things.