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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Farm Sitting

Posted by Bel
From Spiral Garden


We have been so busy! I agreed to farm sit again for my neighbours just under 2km up the road (we are almost direct neighbours, there are very few properties between us). And the day after they left, I took surprise delivery of a new house cow! The cow is on loan to me while Lucy is dry, and she is just lovely. So I have once again been juggling twice-a-day milking with twice-a-day farm sitting!

I take one or more of the children with me when I visit the farm. It's nice to have their help and company, and sometimes we've had jobs which take more than one set of hands - like manouvring hungry goats so I can squeeze out of the feed room door, holding gates ajar, tipping 20kg bags of grain into high storage drums and dragging a billy goat back into his paddock!


When our neighbours go away, they give us a tour of the gardens and animals, reminding me how to pump water and where everything is... They give me a key and some contact numbers, and tell me the date they'll leave and return. I always take notes so that I can remember the right feed mixes and other details.

Since I'm not staying at the farm, I carefully plan our days to allow enough time for all of our tasks. Sometimes we do some preparation for the morning if I know we'll be rushed. Sometimes we'll do a lot of extra work one day so we can pop in and out more quickly the next. When we're going via the farm on our way home, we have our work clothes, boots and raincoats in the car. By being really organised with our farm sitting tasks, just as we try to be with our own farm, the extra work isn't such a very big deal (as it could be)!


Some of our tasks include:
* feeding and watering animals - some twice daily, some daily, some every couple of days
* cleaning up after animals as necessary
* collecting eggs, harvesting from the garden
* watering the gardens, potted plants and seedlings, covering plants in case of frosts etc
* collecting mail
* caring for any sick or injured animals, often taking them home with us

The best things about farm sitting are:
* spending time with different animals (goats, turkeys, chickens, ducks, aviary birds, cats, and guinea fowl this time)
* walking in others' gardens - admiring their planning, and harvesting the bounty
* getting some exercise - squeezing farm jobs into an hour, up and down hills, carrying buckets etc, is hard work!
* doing something to help others - our neighbours could not go away if they didn't have reliable farm sitters
* sharing chores with my children - team work, being outdoors, learning together, supporting each other
* earning some (shared) pocket money!


The worst things about farm sitting are:
* when things go wrong, like a sick animal
* working in the rain and mud
* dealing with animals we aren't comfortable around
* the extra responsibility - we must be there, no matter what's going on in our own lives - there's no one else!

Farm Sitting Resources
It will depend on the level of care (article)
Farm Sitting Checklist (pdf)
Farm Sitters Australia (database)

3 comments:

David said...

Bel, I used to horse sit for a friend of mine. He has Arabian horses. There are six stallions and maybe a dozen mares. The stallions of course are each in their separate pens. Of course any chance they get they will try to get next to the mares. I'm sure you know how hard it is to get an animal back into a pen that it doesn't want to go into. Fortunately I only had a couple stallion brake outs and I knew right where to find them. My friend also had black Angus cattle but has since sold all those. I was raised on the farm and my roots are still in the soil. It was a fun experience to be able to care for the critters but it also was nice to be able to not have that daily responsibility after a week or ten days. It does teach kids responsibility and commitment.

Have a great farm day.

Bel said...

Hello David! I think I'd be more afraid of an Arabian Stallion than a billy goat! Yes, it is nice to hand back the responsibility, but we also sort of miss it - and suddenly have a whole lot more time in our days. :)

Thanks, Bel

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Bless you for helping out! Sounds like a big job too. I know there's enough work on a firm to keep a few people very busy! I'm not so sure I'd trust my garden to someone else...