Preparing for Vacation: Homestead Vacationing 101
I’ve written before about vacationing on the homestead. The post is mainly about how to find a sitter to watch your animals. Besides from finding a sitter, there are a few things that go into preparing to leave your homestead for any amount of time. Of course the tasks vary on if you’ll be gone for a day or a week, but nevertheless, there’s preparation required. If I’m going out of town for more than three days I take about a week to prepare the homestead for the sitter.
If you’ve read my post How to Stay Organized on the Homestead you know I’m an avid list utilizer. So I obviously believe the most important part in preparing to leave your homestead in the hands of another is making a list for your sitter. This list tells them exactly what to do and exactly when to do it. You should also add in details such as what to do in an emergency and can add optional things they can do if they want to (like giving treats to your bunnies!).
My list is a table that looks a little something like this:
I make sure that I specify the exact amounts of feed to give each group of animals and also where to put the feed. In my hen house, I use pans right now for their feed. I often feed them outside of the hen house unless it’s raining, then the pans are moved into the hen house and picked up in the evening.
When Emerson and I got married we were out of town for 3 weeks. One week in Texas and two in Canada on our honeymoon. This just proves that it’s not impossible to vacation while running a homestead! Granted, we were very lucky and only had to pay a sitter the first week. The second week my mother-in-law came and held down the fort. Within those three weeks, no-one had to buy feed for my animals. I lined the metal trash cans with a trash bag and I poured the amount of feed needed for three weeks in them along with the scoop.
When I go out of town I try to make things as easy as possible for my sitter. So, aside from providing enough feed for the animals, I make sure watering is an easy task. This means I make sure that all hoses are in working condition and maybe I’ll switch out a shorter hose for a longer hose if it’ll better reach where the waterers are. For my rabbits, I’m working on a 5-gallon bucket watering system and adding a hose closer to their hutches. Right now I have five rabbits with two water bottles each. Although I rarely have to fill up any more than 5 water bottles a day, and usually it’s more like 3, it does happen. In the future, my sitter will just have to top off a 5-gallon bucket with water and go on their merry way instead of lugging 3-10 water bottles to the outside sink.
You might be wondering how cleaning has anything at all to do with letting someone sit your homestead. Right now, I’m on a week-long vacation in Kentucky and my in-laws are watching the animals. I cleaned out the hen house, added bedding, switched the layer box bedding, and cleaned their water containers out. For the rabbits, I scooped the drop pans. I emptied and refilled the duck pond and weeded the gardens. Not only does this make it far more pleasant for the sitter, it also means I have a little less work to do when I get back. Or at least I don’t have double the weeds to pull!
Ah, the gardens. The gardens are the hardest to prepare being gone for, in my opinion. I’m always paranoid that they won’t get enough water or maybe too much water. What if someone forgets about them? They’re also the most time consuming of all my daily tasks. We have 15 raised bed gardens and each one of them has something growing. On my main 6 beds, I made sure to have irrigation and shade cloth on them. This way all my sitter has to do is turn on the system, feed the chickens, and then they’re done with the middle beds. The shade cloth aids in preserving some of that moisture for just a little longer. For the front 4 beds, I made sure to point out where the turn on for the hose is and the same with the front 5. I also make sure to harvest whatever needs to be harvested and either store it in the fridge, preserve it, bring it with me, or you can give it to your sitter as a token on gratitude.
It’s not impossible to vacation while running a homestead, and I know I’ve said it before but it’s true. We don’t get away often but we’re fortunate enough to get away a couple times a year. I miss the homestead dearly right now but I know that I’ve prepared the space well and my sitters should’ve had a problem running it. The animals will be fed and watered and the gardens will be thriving when I return. And it all started with a list. I’d love to hear what steps you take before vacationing away from your homestead! Happy homesteading, Y’all!