Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My first trip away from the farm

I haven't been away from the farm overnight since we moved here over a year ago. Mark and Logan have, but I haven't wanted to leave the animals. I decided I wanted to go to Virginia to see family for the holidays. My grandparents are still alive but their health is starting to suffer, so I wanted to see them. I arranged for a neighbor to come in the mornings and Sandy to come in the evenings. I divided up the chores between the 2 times so no one had more than about 10 minutes worth of stuff to do.

After a great trip, we arrived home yesterday evening. I told Sandy not to come yesterday so I could do the evening chores and check on everyone when I got home. I went down to put everyone to bed and everyone seemed fine. But I noticed all the waters were empty. Not good. The neighbor doing the morning was in charge of filling waters. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he filled them the morning before and decided there was enough water left yesterday morning to get them through the day. I decided I'd take care of the water in the morning since it was already after 9 and all the animals were asleep.

This morning, the neighbor must have been confused about when we were coming back because he came by before we got up and let the animals out. I thought good, I won't have to fill all the waters and can concentrate on cleaning the extremely dirty stall and the coops. When I got down there, all the waters will still empty and the chicken's food hadn't been filled! The chickens are locked in the new coop and can't get out to forage for food. They are reliant on us to feed them. When I went into the coop to feed them, they attacked me! They were clearly very hungry. Now I'm wondering if the neighbor ever filled the food or water. Luckily, I got big water containers and filled them to the top before I left, so at most they should only have gone a day or 2 without water. But the chickens could have gone the whole time without food.

I appreciate that he was willing to help out, but you need to be able to rely on people to do what they say they are going to do. Especially when animals are involved! I'm the type of person that takes responsibility very seriously. If you ask me to do something I will do beyond what you asked. If you wanted me to feed and water your animals, you'd probably come home and find I cleaned the barn too ;). It is just how I am. It is really hard to learn that others don't take their word seriously.

Luckily, it is winter and not summer. They could have died without water for 2 days in the summer. I was planning on going to my family reunion in July, it is every other year and family from all over the world go. I don't want to miss it, but I can't put my animals in danger either. I will be looking for a new morning person and setting up a redundancy system where waters get filled twice a day. I hope I can find someone I feel comfortable trusting to take care of my animals. I trust Sandy but don't want to ask her to come twice a day, that seems like it is asking too much of someone. Thanks Sandy! The animals appreciate the care you gave them.

Update: Sandy filled the food and water for the chickens in the coop when she came in the evenings. It is clear the neighbor never did the whole time. Thank goodness I had Sandy coming in the evening!!! Thank you again Sandy. I really owe you!


lauraslife said...

I too am very reluctant to leave my animals for any length of time and have had an assortment of simular experiences and even the death of some of my goats while away. Its a hard choice to make. It seems you have to find a true animal person who understands that animals needs the same things we need on a daily basis.I hope to take a week or more away this summer to visit my father and I am already wondering who I might trust to care for things. Thanks for reminding me that I need to begin to put those plans into place now.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about your experience. I also learned that while someone was willing to say yes to taking care of my animals I came home to find that they had not been fed at all. I also won't leave home as I have not met the right animal person as of yet to do so. Of course I know my Sister would stay at the house and take good care of my animals.

Melody said...

I'm glad that everything turned out ok in the end. Good luck finding someone for summertime; I'd hate to see you miss out. Glad your animals now have food and water; I wonder what morning person was thinking?

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

Even if it wasn't my responsibility, and I saw the animals were out of water, I would have filled the waterers. I wonder if the "pet sitters" would be a good choice although they usually just deal with dogs and cats.

DebH said...

Oh My!! I feel your concern, I too have a really really hard time leaving and even then I call and make sure they are checking while I am talking to them. I have my older children help me for the most part but I ride them until they hang up on me. I like to hear the noise of the animals in the background and tell them to call while they are standing there and describe stuff..Now that is Sad isn't it!!?? I wish I were closer and I would definitely help you out!! I am the same exact way and feel the responsibility completely, it's just like raising kids. I wish there was a farm animal sitter service in my area, but I would demand references. I am just glad everything you had survived!!

Linda said...

This is in part why I had thought about giving my goats up. I have to find someone though that I can depend on because I want to keep the goats and I want to go away every now and again!

Spring Lake Farm said...

Christy - I will be glad to come watch the animals this summer and between Don and I, we can cover twice a day (especially with the days being longer). I want you to know that I filled the water dishes and food for the chickens every night. The 2nd night was after the big rain and the door to the coop had swollen with moisture and could not be opened (so I know they were not fed that morning because the door would not have shut). I was glad that Don was there because he was able to find something to pry it open with (it was REALLY stuck and I don't think I could have gotten it open). Well you can imagine the birds were starving so we filled up everything and then had to prop the door shut because it would not close. The next night the door still wouldn't close so we again propped it shut after filling up the feeder. The next day someone had been down and shaved some wood off the door so it now could be shut properly but again the chickens were out of food so we filled everything up before leaving. The goats had water each evening so they were fine. The only problem I experienced was that darn little rooster!

After coming by the first night, I woke up in the middle of night and was like "I didn't see Buttercup!" I worried all day long but when I went that evening there she was. Whew!

I could never catch the little white pullet to put her in with the others but she was there every night and ate with the guineas and the "brat".

Sorry to be so long but I just wanted you to know that the chickens were fed and watered each evening! I would never let animals go hungry or thirsty just because it was not on my list of things to do. But I know exactly what you mean about the "attack" comment (that's why the little feeder was in there so I could get to the big feeder and get it filled) especially if they hadn't been fed since Monday night. :)

I do think that not being able to free range probably meant that the chickens went through a lot more feed than normal. Next time you leave it probably wouldn't hurt to put another large feeder in there.

Again, I'll be glad to help again this summer because everyone needs to be able to get away every now and then!


Christy said...

Sandy, thank you! That is a relief off my mind. So, it is clear the neighbor didn't feed them. I will know not to ask for his help again. I'm so glad you checked the ones in the coop. I know I told you not to worry about them since I thought the neighbor would take care of them. Thank you again for checking on them!

I do plan to get another big feeder and waterer for them next time I go out of town. I also hope by July I can let them free range again since they will have the coop to go into for safety. I actually hope to start letting them out tomorrow.

I really, really appreciate your help! I was in no way upset with you, I knew I could trust you. I am upset with the neighbor though.

Spring Lake Farm said...

Not a problem, I should have called you with an update earlier so that you wouldn't have worried. I know how I worry about mine when I'm away!


Gail said...

You are ready for your next vacation.

Thanks, Sandy, for helping out.

Razzberry Corner said...

It is always a concern to leave the animals in the hands of others. At least now you know who you can trust and who you cannot. We will have this same problem if/when we ever go anywhere on vacation again!

Zachary and Jennifer said...

It is hard to leave when you have critters at home to worry about. We had a disaster this summer ourselves when we went away for a quick overnight camping (i think we were only away for 12 hours) and my brother forgot to shut the chicken coop door at night and our whole flock was killed my raccoons. I am glad you didn't lose any animals. Sounds like you have a good helper in Sandy.

CeeCee said...

Having a good, reliable neighbor to trade animal duties with is priceless.
Soooo glad you had two neighbors lined up to help, or you'd have had some sick animals on your hands when you got back.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

That is the exact reason I have never gone anywhere overnight in the 3 years we've had our ranch, unless my hubby could be here to care for the animals.
what a bummer the neighbor couldn't follow through. Did you end up paying him for the work he did? I wouldn't have.