Although we love farm life
Sometime we just need to get away from it all and take a vacation. A real, non-goat milking, vacation.
Last week we took a vacation to the Arizona mountains and it was so nice to know our animals were happy back at home.
There are a few different ways people with farms can vacation. In our early farm years, we met other local goat owners through facebook groups and we traded off taking care of each other’s animals. This way, we could ensure that the person taking care of our animals was qualified to milk & do all the goat chores that a normal person might not be able to. The con with it, however, was when it was our turn to milk for our friends. That meant milking four times a day – two for us & two for them. Recently, we found a farm helper who we could hire to take care of things here on the farm and after years of doing trade-offs, this is our favorite way to go. The average cost for twice a day milking & farm chores is around $20-$30 a day.
Planning your Vacation around farm life
One of the best tips I can give you is to avoid leaving when you have more demanding events happening on the farm. We don’t go on vacation when a goat is close to delivery date, when we’re raising meat chickens, when we’ve brought new animals home, or when we’ve just planted seeds in the garden.
We try to plan our year in advance so we have only simple chores to do when we want to vacation.
Daily Task list for Farm Help
Whenever we leave the farm, we try to make preparations so the care needed is minimal. Keepin’ it easy peasy is our specialty.
Chickens are really easy animals because you only need to make sure they have daily food & water. We fill large containers of extra food & water for them and tell our farm helper to just check to see if they’re empty.
If you’re like us and free-range your chickens by day, but lock them up at night, you might need to add “lock up the chickens & let them out in the morning” to your daily task list. One of these days, though, we are determined to purchase an automatic chicken door opener. It’s the stuff of dreams, man!
For gathering eggs, it’s not really necessary unless it’s in the high 90’s outside. In most cases, we let our eggs build up until we get home.
If your goats are in milk, they’re going to require the most care. Once or twice a day milking is the priority, so you’ll definitely need an experienced milker. Please don’t make the mistake of using someone who isn’t experienced, because odds are they’ll struggle with it and won’t milk the goat completely out, which means a drop in milk supply for the rest of the year.
Food & water for goats is pretty standard, but we also make sure to let our farm helper know not to give extra treats or grain. Lots of people tend to overfeed or spoil goats, but in the end it throws their rumen off balance and makes them sick. That’s something you definitely don’t want to happen while you’re on vacation:)
Sheep are by far the easiest to leave, because sheep are grazers and only need a large pasture & water to be happy. If it’s the winter, however, they’ll need to be fed daily with an alfalfa/bermuda blend of hay.
We try to bring our dogs with us on vacation for the most part, but if we can’t, we leave enough food & water while we’re gone, plus we get them a new bone or pig’s ear to keep them busy.
We have a timer on our garden, and we use a lot of wood chips so our garden doesn’t need a lot of water. If we’ve just planted seeds, we usually need to be more attentive to the watering, which is why we don’t usually plant seeds before a vacation.
How to leave your Farm WITHOUT a Farm Helper
There are a few tips I thought I’d share in case you have nobody to care for the farm. It can be done, it just takes some planning.
For your milking goats, if you still have the baby goats around, you can leave them in with mom 24-7 and she’ll nurse them so the milking should be taken care of for you while you’re gone. I should warn you, this only works if your milking doe is the mother of the babies you’re leaving her with. A mother won’t let another goat baby nurse no matter how little or cute. She will only nurse her baby goats. If you plan your vacations for when you still have baby goats around, this can really work to your advantage.
As far as food & water for the all the animals, just leave enough out to keep them happy while you’re gone.
It’s always a good idea to have a neighbor check in halfway through your vacation and just make sure the food & water levels are good.
All it takes is some planning to be able to leave the farm with peace of mind. You may be a homebody like us, but every once in awhile when you want take a vacation, it’s nice to know things are taken care of back at the farm.
Want to know what kind of shenanigans we get ourselves into when we vacation? Watch our latest vacation vlog below.