Vacationing?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Snugglebunny, Nov 28, 2004.

  1. Snugglebunny

    Snugglebunny Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    640
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Location:
    Vermont
    Trying to understand something my hubby is concerned about re: raising livestock. We don't own anything yet, just researching.

    We go on a trip twice a year to visit family several states away, and we're more-or-less gone for about a week each time. Our indoor cat does just fine with this trip, we stock him up on food and water, etc and he does fine "guarding" the place while we're gone.

    How do you all manage to take trips or vacations when owning livestock? Hubby's family lives several states away, and mine over an hour and a half, so none would be able to come stay to house-sit. It's not like we go on vacations a lot, just twice, maybe three times a year at most.

    We only want to have a milk cow, chickens, maybe a couple of goats and turkeys. It will be a small "Hobby" or Family-Style farm, not a major income-generating farm.

    How do you do it?
     
  2. HilltopDaisy

    HilltopDaisy Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    3,891
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Location:
    New York
    I never go on vacation. If something happened to me, and I needed emergency help with my animals, I would start with the local vets, because many vet techs pet sit for extra cash. You could put a note on the board at your feedstore, and advertise for help. Our community board at the market usually has a sign from a man who does exactly this; he does farm chores for folks going away on vacation.
     

  3. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

    Messages:
    11,076
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Kansas
    Well maybe you can build a travel trailer so that you can take the animals along.

    Now to be serious, make a good friendship with someone you would trust to take care of the animals and are willing to do so in your absence.

    Try to time the vacation so that the milk cow is dry to give the caretaker as little to do as possible.

    It is not easy find the right caretaker and many folk just forego a vacation longer than a couple of days, which is not in your best interest. After all seeing the sites of the world is part of ones ongoing education.

    Best wishes for finding the right person/family to care for your animals.

    Some use 4-H kids to care for their animals or use Caretaker Gazette to find a person.
     
  4. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    24,572
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2004
    Location:
    MS
    My husband and I are dealing with the same problem right now. We have five horses, four dogs, six cats, one chicken and two guineas. The dogs we will kennel at the vet's when we have to go out of town. Hubby just doesn't trust anyone with his dogs. I plan to inquire at the vet's office and will probably put a sign up there advertising for help. Hubby plans to ask a neighbor if his kids would be interested in this job as they have horses and would be comfortable around ours.

    It's a valid concern. Right now we either take turns going on brief out-of-town trips or we only go for the day.
     
  5. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,832
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Location:
    Washington
    A neighbor of mine who has hair sheep and I have started trading off watching each other's stock. I have sheep and cashmere goats, so our animal's needs are really similar.

    Make it as easy as possible for the caretaker to do their job. Dry up the dairy animals, make sure the feed is easy to get to, stock a flashlight and extra batteries somewhere in the barn itself so your helper doesn't have to fumble around, work gloves (cheap pair) right there where the hay is in case things get itchy, clippers (cheap ones) right there to cut the bale twine... I set up an account with the large animal vet before I leave so if anything happens my helper knows they can call and have the vet come out - I'll pay the bill when I get back. I post phone numbers right in the barn itself of all of the places they can get a hold of me or leave a message for me, and, of course, the vet's phone number.

    Previously, I found a notice at the feed store from a high school kid who was watching critters for extra Christmas money - he worked out really well until he went to college out of state and became unavailable.
     
  6. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,489
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2003
    We rarely go on vacation together and then we are only gone a couple days at most. Usually one or the other has to stay home.

    I've had family help, hired people and not one of them has done what I consider a satisfactory job. They "forget" to change water, or feed every day, etc.

    I agree, make it as easy as possible. I don't go anywhere during calving time or when I have chickens growing.

    Jena
     
  7. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

    Messages:
    19,473
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2003
    When we had animals we never went anywhere.We couldn't trust anyone,plus I figured they were mine and it was just alot to ask anyone else to take care of them.

    But I didn't even care for my wife taking care of them.She would every once in awhile.She did ok but she just didn't give the personal touch I did. :rolleyes:

    big rockpile
     
  8. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    9,536
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2002
    Location:
    Beautiful SW Mountains of Virginia
    Those who milk a cow are all saying, "what's a vacation"???? LOL!!! :haha: :haha:

    You might be able to get a neighbor or hire help to feed and water the animals when away, but you won't find many people you can trust to hand milk your cow twice a day! If not done properly, you can come home to major trouble and it's way too a big an investment to chance.

    Personally, I don't know of anyone (myself included when we did milk) who ever took a vacation when milking cows or goats. You have to look at it as a responsibility. You gain an enourmous amount of freedom in homesteading; but you also give up a freedom too--- the freedom to be able to come and go as you please. Time now evolves around your animals. That's just the way it is on a farm. It doesn't mean you gotta be milking at 5:00 on the dot, but you do have to be there in the vicinity and you don't miss a milking or wait until 8:00 to do it. You have someone depending on you and they can't start without you!

    Another thing, a cow (or goat) doesn't take to being milked by more than one or two differant people -- at all! They get use to someone and they will NOT cooperate with a stranger. Heck, they won't cooperate with another family member they see everyday if they are use to the same person milking them day after day!
     
  9. OD

    OD Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,523
    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
    We haven't spent a night away from home in over 6 years!!!
    We have a friend who knows how to milk, was willing, & the cow was even willing, so we went camping for 2 nights, confident that all would be well. When we got back, we found out that he had left the gate open, & half the community had been chasing cows while we were gone. That was 6 years ago, & it's just easier to stay home & know everything is OK.
     
  10. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

    Messages:
    2,476
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Lynnwood, Washington
    It's definitely best to try to time your vacations when your animals are dry. It is seriously tricky taking a vacation with animals in milk, especially in early lactation when lack of promptness can result in serious injury to the animal. Even if your helper does know how to milk, they'll invariably mess something up. I haven't had open gates or big problems with animal health, but everything else that can go wrong has. I like to get back early so I can have time to put things in order before returning to my normal routine. I left for a week the summer before last and was ecstatic when I got home and everything was pretty much as though I hadn't left. That was the first time in six years that homecoming wasn't ugly.

    Oh, yeah, and it's expensive too. My chores take me around an hour and a half a day. Someone without my routine takes quite a bit longer. I've paid $35 per day for help the last three times we've left town. DEFINITELY adds to the cost of producing your own food.
     
  11. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,576
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Location:
    Canada
    In the height of having a flock of ducks, chickens and several dogs, an my now ex spouse's brother decided we had to go to the wedding that was to be a 5 day trip away. :rolleyes: A quilting buddy of my spouse at the time liked the idea to look after our place as she had experience in her younger days. It worked out, but it really didn't. The animals were fine, though it was too much imposition to ask, I felt.
    Another time was a week long vacation which we thought would be a good break from frantic worklife. The MIL and SIL stayed at the place to babysit the 5 dogs and few chickens to feed at that time. It was disasterous since they did not follow routines about the dogs which they knew but failed to follow through. They didn't let out the big dog enough as prescribed and she **** all over the carpeting which they had to clean up and complained about to us. Well, it didn't help familiy relations, I'll say that.
    Otherwise, if only dogs we had, they went to our trusted kennel folk down the road. It's expensive boarding several dogs if you can't take them. I don't know what we would have done if there were livestock. I guess that was why we didn't keep much beyond the poultry and gardening committments. If a spouse has the travel and vacation itch, or you do, the plans above mentioned for neighborly help might be the ticket. Remember also, neighbors have committments too, and if you are reciprocal with them. I haven't figured it any better than to be more of a homebody, which is what I enjoy about living in the country anyway. If the vacation becomes a committment to visit family far away, then some choices need to be made that they may not understand. The alternative is that they could visit with you for the annual weekly committment.
    Just my thoughts.

    Rich
     
  12. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    717
    Joined:
    May 31, 2004
    Location:
    Michiana
    Right now since all we have are beef cattle and a backyard flock of chickens, my retired in-laws take care of things. They are both pretty frail so we have to have all feed, water and bedding squared away before we leave

    When we had dairy cattle, after my in-laws retired, we just did not take a vacation, other than overnighters at Christmas, for several years. We could not afford to hire a "chore boy" very often. In 2002 we took the kids on an overnight trip to Chicago. First time we had stayed in a hotel for 8 years. Time flies when you're having fun1 :haha:

    As far as finding a chore boy, there were times (illness, childbirth) when I couldn't help DH and so he'd get a neighbor boy in ahead of time to be sure they knew the milking routine very well. (Edited to add ... FIL would do a great job hovering over them and double-checking)

    My advice (free -- for what it's worth! :D ) would be to plan way ahead ... both in recruiting help and getting your livestock numbers down if possible. For instance, vacation when the cow is dry, after all calves sold, or after you got all your chickens butchered.

    Good luck!
    Ann
     
  13. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

    Messages:
    19,473
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2003
    I forgot to mention we have 4 Dogs,wife says we can take them with us :haha: Took a couple Road Trips with them,in a Pickup.It just don't work,crowded,every once in awhile on of them decides they can drive.They get too excited over the least little thing.Then you get to your destination,people don't realy care as much for your babies on the other end.Just pray you don't break down :eek:

    Now if we take off for a day or two.They have Feeders,plenty of water and Shelter.They don't like being outside,and I worry about them every minute.

    big rockpile
     
  14. Grandmotherbear

    Grandmotherbear Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    8,880
    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    Fl Zones 11
    I only had one rabbit at a time and they were house rabbits, trained to the leash and litter box. We sneaked them into several motel rooms, and woul break at rest areas for walks etc. Never had a problem with the dogs who were walking at the same time, or with my moms cats. I have decided that if I start raising rabbits for food I will definitely train the brood does to litter boxes and a leash! And only have 2-3!
     
  15. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

    Messages:
    1,642
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2004
    Location:
    Along the Stillaquamish, Washington
    I just want to reiterate the need to reduce the livestock care as much as possible for your vacation times and to line up help way ahead of time. We have a wonderful neighbor boy who does our lawn and I hire him for extra chores and he'll help out whenever I can afford a vacation again. He is very reliable and I pay well so we have a great relationship. I pay him $25 per job or $25 for the first 2 hours and $10 for each additional hour. He usually says I pay him too much, but he has college coming up in three years. He also has a younger brother he is training.
    One added thought, you will probably have to reduce or consolidate your vacations. Being away from your livestock for a week at a time two or three times each year is just asking for trouble.
     
  16. JAM

    JAM Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    67
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2004
    Location:
    New York
    I have a friend down the road from me who loves animals but had no experience other thantraining dogs. She would come down every day and help with the chores and fell in love with the goats. When mine kidded I let her pick a doe for her own. She subsequently bought a couple of more. She was enthralled with the chickens so when it was time for a batch of new chicks she went halves with me. Now after a years experience my husband and I can travel in our motor home for a month at a time and feel comfortable that our goats, horses, highland cattle, llamas, chickens, ducks and guineau hens are being well cared for. Thank the Lord for good friends
     
  17. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

    Messages:
    3,736
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Location:
    VT
    I'm with everyone who said "what's a vacation?" We do day trips and get nervous after 5 hours of "being away." The last time we went somewhere it cost us $100/day for really inadequate housesitting. Someone said their sitter didn't get the dog's schedules right: you've got that in spades. Came home to s*** piles. Don't know if they just couldn't be bothered to let the dogs out on the last day... or if they didn't bother cleaning up when the dogs weren't let out on schedule. Either way... seriously discouraging and we haven't been away since.

    Farming is a series of seasons. In the spring you've got lambs coming.. and who are you going to trust with that? Then the lambs are growing, and potential fox or coyote bait.. no way I'm trusting someone with them.

    Next I have to wean them, which means I've now got sheep in several pens, not condusive to someone else handling them. Fall is shearing... then getting them ready for breeding... then breeding... and now I've got pregnant ewes.

    Who is going to care as much about these critters as I do?
     
  18. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

    Messages:
    10,854
    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Location:
    Zone 7
    For the reasons listed above I have no pets. I do however have a herd of beef cattle. No matter whom I ask or how hard I search I have not found a reliable person to attend to the beef cattle. Recently I broached the subject with a semi retired acquaintenance that lives only a few miles away and for some reason he responded as if I had offended him. The task is not one of any great inconvenience.....at some point during the day the animals need to be checked to determine that all is OK, verify that the fence is intact. All of this can be done from the seat of the Honda ATV. Biggest risk is that the 4 wheeler may sling some manure. I ask no one to be the midwife to a cow; if there is a health problem then contact the vet. The most work would be about every 3 or 4 days would be to give the cattle access to new grass. Each time (twiced) that I have managed to hire someone for a few days when I returned I learned they did not fullfill the responsibilities. One got the Honda flooded while trying to start it and it was too hot to walk! The other "forgot" to check for 2 days. Now when I go somewhere I just put the cattle on fresh pasture and give them access to the stream and expect them to be there when I return in 3 days. I am uncomfortable leaving them any longer.
     
  19. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,731
    Joined:
    May 31, 2002
    Location:
    No. Cent. AR
    I think you have your answer from al thge previous posts - if you have animals you don't vacation - period. Usually vacations are a time to get away from the stress and unhappiness of daily life. Most who have animals don't want to get away that much. The animals are comparable to having children in that they are totally dependent on the human owners for food, water, safety, and their health. You wouldn't go on vacation and leave your young children at home on their own so to you don't leave animals at home on their own, and as with children you want to make sure that the babysitter is reliable and trustworthy. Hard to do with animals.
     
  20. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,126
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    Oregon
    :) It's not all that bleak! LOL IT just depends on a person using common sense about your life style.

    I know I like to head off to the beach a few times during the year and I'm going ot Australia next spring.

    Since I know about myself and what I like to do I have limited my animals to only the two dogs(who travel like pros)and my ducks.

    The ducks are just fine for a weekend as they have good secure pens built on to the duckhouses and when I go and they are well stocked with food and water, I can relax. The dogs go with me to the coast and are good company. My dogs are crate trained and always get invited back to anywhere we visit and they are welcome in motels and hotels. Naturally I never plan a trip when I plan on ducklings.

    Like a lot of people on this forum I have spent time cultivating my neighbors and caring for their animals when they are gone. I am scrupulous about writing down directions and following them to the letter. I take great pains to make sure everything is done like it should be from caring for their cats and dogs, to driving the tractor to feed cattle and horses. I expect the same care from them for my ducks whenI go for longer periods of time.

    However, I would NEVER leave my dogs home to be cared for by someone else. Never! If I cannot take them with me(as in the Australia trip)they go to the boarding kennel run by my Vet. Don't ever feel bad taking your dog(s) to a good kennel. This is by far the safest course to follow when the safety of your dogs(or cats) is concerned. I have been a vet tech all of my working life and never heard of a death of a dog or cat due to negligence at a good kennel, but I've heard hundreds of horror stories when they have been left at home to be cared for by someone else.

    It's such an individual thing. A person has to think ahead and consider what they want to do with their life. If you just have to have milk cows, goats or other stock that require milking and "calving" etc., or horses or donkeys then figure that the odds are against you taking meaningful time away. But if you stick with poultry of some type and house pets like dogs and cats, it can be done. And without all that worry. ;)

    LQ