Ames Family Farm’s first article is now live on Backyard Poultry Magazine’s blog! Here is a reprint of the article. To read other amazing articles, see the blog here…
We don’t go anywhere. No, really. When clients ask if I work holidays, the answer is yes. Except for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m home, taking care of work, family and the farm.
But when your baby sister gets married all the way up in Idaho, you just don’t miss that.
Ames Family Farm has taken quite a foothold in my neighborhood. I’ve had chickens for more than two years, and a substantial garden for more than five. Each year my little homestead grows, and I grow with it. I didn’t realize how much work I actually did until I sought caretakers for a week’s vacation and received expressions of panic.
We did manage to leave town. We enjoyed a beautiful wedding, and a satisfying visit with family. However, I have much to remember in case I ever get the chance to go out of town again:
After receiving looks of panic, I started adding, “But the work will be split up!” My friends were much more open to doing a portion of the job.
It also helped to choose the right person for each job.
My next-door neighbor, who works evenings, agreed to let the chickens out in the mornings and fill food and water dishes. Another friend offered to do a mid-day check on her way home from work. My retired friend, who adores her own chickens, ensured that my babies were locked up before the raccoons came out at night. (And she knew from experience exactly when the raccoons came out!) My natural health friend got the task of watering my gardens.
Remember the Details
As I walked each friend through my backyard farm, I advised that Tater, the half-Pyrenees dog, would run from the yard if they gave her the chance. She would bolt straight across the busy street but would stop at the nearest yard that had another dog. When she did just that, my friend knew exactly where to find her.
I also told my friends what to do if one of my animals met an untimely end. Only one of them had dealt with livestock death, so the others were grateful for the instruction. Thankfully, nobody died.
Have a Backup Plan
My most valuable backup plan was Sheryl.
A few days into my vacation, my good friend Linda needed a place to stay while traveling through Reno. “By all means,” I said. “Use my house. Do some laundry. Cuddle the dogs. Turn on some lights. Make the house look occupied.” Linda took good care of my house; such good care that she called me the next morning to inform me that nobody had let the chickens out. All of the animals were out of food and water. Linda cared for the animals before continuing on her journey, but I still worried. I had six days left of my trip, I was way up in Idaho, and my neighbor often doesn’t have a working phone. I sent a text to Sheryl, who immediately offered to check the chickens in the morning and at night. I knew my chickens would be fine until I got back.
And they were.
Even if your caretakers are your best friends, tokens of gratitude are always appreciated.
We paid one friend in cash, knowing he needed that more than gifts. My garden caretaker gleaned produce to feed to her four young children. When the mid-day friend goes out of town for her son’s rodeo in November, we’ll take care of her horses and dogs.
We have already cared for Sheryl’s poultry, and she said she only returned the favor, but we also had a little gift for her.
Before I left Reno, I contacted family in Idaho, looking for elk, venison or huckleberry products. My family donated generously. I brought home venison burger and jerky hunted by my cousin, elk steaks hunted by my dad, wild serviceberries picked just above my childhood home, and raspberry/huckleberry jam picked and canned by a good friend. We found more huckleberry products up in Idaho. Sheryl received a handsome gift basket, and the other friends received gifts as well.
We have no vacations planned for a long time … I’m still catching up on work. But, if we do have to leave town again, I know I’ll have a team willing to help me again.