We recently had the opportunity to visit Italy (part pleasure, part business); but wouldn’t have been able to go without the help of friends – who did a great job farm sitting while we were gone. When we just had cats and chickens, it wasn’t so much work; but now that we have goats too, it’s a morning and evening commitment of significant time every day. With everyone’s’ busy schedule, that can be hard to do, but we sure appreciate the help. This magnificent glass horse in Venice was the closest thing to livestock we saw the entire vacation.
If you’re interested in getting farm animals, farm sitting can be a great way to not only help out a local farmer, but also find out if animals (and the daily chores that go along with them) are for you. You’ll probably quickly figure out that schedules need to be modified – that the animals have to be planned around. Sometimes you really don’t feel like rolling out of bed to face cold, snowy weather; but the animals are totally dependent on you – so you do it.
Farm sitting can also be a great experience for children, they often don’t know what goes into producing our food today, and are thrilled to get up-close and personal with things like egg collection, feeding, watering, and milking. And, if you’re trying to decide on possible breeds for your own farm or homestead, it can let you experience the animal before making a commitment. I know that our Nigerian Dwarves have changed many preconceived notions about goats – they’re small, gentle, friendly, cute, and productive; and everyone seems to enjoy interacting with them.
So, if you’re interested in moving to the farm someday, would like your children to experience some farm life, are trying to decide on breeds for your homestead, or just plain enjoy animals; make friends with your local farmer. Offer to learn how to do the chores, and do some farm sitting. The farmer will likely be thrilled with the help; and as a side bonus, you’ll probably end up with an abundance of eggs, milk, etc. while experiencing a little farm life.
Sheila Menendez says
Hope you had a great time on your trip – what a fantastic horse! Good Farm Sitters are priceless and you raise good points on experiencing farm life. We don’t get away often, but we have a couple good friends farm-sit for us when we do.
Sheila, I agree – good farm sitters are priceless! We did have a great time on the trip, and I wish you could see that horse in person – it’s full size in glass, and just an incredible representation of a gorgeous creature.
We started exactly that way just over a year ago. We wanted to know more about what it takes to care for animals, so we offered to take care of a neighbor’s chickens and meat goats if they ever planned to go out of town. We spent an hour learning the daily routines and caveats of his farm, including tending to a large garden. We got to practice what we learned the following weekend when they were gone for four days. We got to keep the eggs and a good quantity of fresh produce for our efforts!
When they returned, I was proud to announce that everyone and everything had survived. My neighbor awarded me the rank of “Chicken Herder, 2nd Class,” and I was on my way to learning all I could about raising chickens and growing food.
Last spring we were given eight Barred Rocks chicks from the same neighbor. Unfortunately, we lost five cockerels in two raccoon attacks. I’ve since greatly improved security and built a neat little chicken tractor for the remaining three pullets and a new rooster that was given to us. I could write an entire article about what *not* to do, and of course, I’m still learning!
Ted, it’s just a great win-win situation isn’t it? Love your story!
rebecca ferguson says
would love this