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!