Homesteading can be all encompassing sometimes. There is always something to do and someone to take care of. How do you get away?
I am posting this now because in the next month we have 4 overnight trips planned. Sometimes my husband will stay behind, and sometimes we will all go together.
So how do we take care of our homestead when we are out of town?
Find A Trusted Neighbor To Help
This is the main suggestion I would go with first. Find a trusted friend or relative that lives close by and can check on your home, animals and garden while you are gone. Even if you do some of the other automated systems, it isn’t the same as having someone physically check on things.
Many issues can be resolved early if someone comes by and checks daily or even every other day. Maybe a sprinkler hose busted and your garden is flooded or a system you were using to get water to your animals fails. These are things that can be taken care of if someone is there to see that they are happening.
Of course, something could still happen even when people are watching your house (our house burned down overnight even though we had people that checked on it the afternoon of the same day). I don’t say that to keep you from leaving, but just to be realistic.
You can pay this sweet person with money, a returned favor or with produce and eggs from your homestead. Whatever you pay, you will feel better knowing that things are taken care of while you are gone.
Put Automated Systems In Place
Even if you have someone watching the homestead for you, automated systems will make it easier for them to keep up on the chores. Here are some suggestions for automated systems:
- Watering System for your Garden: Sprinklers on a timer for your garden can help ease the worry of your garden dying while you are on vacation. I wouldn’t set these for more than once a day, depending on your climate. The best times to water are morning and evening. Just keep in mind that if you have been gone for a week and watering regularly during this time, you will probably need to do some extra weeding when you get home. On the bright side, you may come home to a big harvest as well.
- Watering System for your Animals: I have my sprinkler from the garden also connected to the chicken waterer so that when the garden gets watered so do the chickens. You can use a rain catching system to collect water to give to the chickens and rabbits (or other livestock). You would have to rig it with gravity or some other system to get it to the animals. I have seen people use a nipple system from rain water collection to water rabbits and chickens.
- Feed for your Animals: We have a rather large feeder for the chickens, so that if we fill it up all the way it will last them several days. The rabbits have feeders that if full would last them several days as well. I would leave extra hay or garden greens for the rabbits if we left for more than a day. You can DIY large feeders with PVC pipe to make food last longer. I will link to some ideas at the bottom of this post.
- Egg Collection: This one is harder and one of the reasons why you want someone to check on your chickens daily. I have seen people rig a system where the eggs go down into a separate compartment after being laid so that they aren’t trampled or eaten. They would stay in the compartment until you came back from vacation. I am not that handy, but it is possible. Check the links at the bottom of this post.
- Letting the Chickens out of the Coop: In the summer, it is too hot in our coop for the chickens to stay in there all day. Depending on your coop and if they have an attached run, you may be able to do that. I recently heard of someone that had a solar door, meaning the chicken door was opened and closed by solar power. That would be an amazing way to let the chickens in and out of the coop! Genius! We aren’t that savvy yet.
Plan Ahead of Time
If you have systems in place for automation ahead of time, your homestead will be better off. The animals will be used to the systems and you will have worked the kinks out before you leave.
Also, you need to plan your travel when it is a good time for your homestead:
- You don’t want to travel when harvest in your garden is at it’s peak. You will want to be home to harvest and preserve your produce is it’s freshest.
- You don’t want to travel if you have eggs that are about to hatch or new animals being born. You need to be home to make sure these things go as well as possible.
- You don’t want to travel if you have meat chickens because they are prone to disease and death. You don’t want to come back from a trip and have several chickens dead in the coop. That spreads more disease for the rest of the birds.
Hire A House Sitter/Animal Watcher
I try to do things the frugal way if I can. But sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and pay money. Bummer. If you can’t find someone to watch your animals for free (or by bartering), you may have to hire someone.
This can be a college student or newlywed couple that can house sit for a few nights and take care of the animals.
It may be that you have to put your dog in a kennel because it is too hot or cold to leave them outside for that many days in a row.
Whatever the case may be, it is better to pay for someone to take care of your house and animals than worry about them the whole time you are gone.
Travel In The Off Season
If at all possible, the best time to travel from your homestead is probably going to be in the off season. Depending on where you live, this could be early spring (before you plant) or late fall (after harvest). It may be in the winter time if you don’t have any baby animals being born then.
Whenever your off season is, that is when you should plan a trip (if possible). That way you have less animals and no garden to look after. It may be that you have cows, which may be easier to take care of in the summer because they feed and drink in the pasture. You may milk a cow and the only way you can get away is after she has given birth and isn’t being milked. Whatever your situation, look over you homestead and decide when the off season will be for you. Take advantage of that time and book a vacation. You deserve it.Click here for ideas of automated solutions for when you need to get away. #homesteadtravelClick To Tweet
Here are some links to awesome automation ideas that you can try on your homestead:
Automated Rabbit Hutch (Video)
But Julie, I want a life that I don’t need a vacation from. I want my homestead to be so awesome that I never want to leave! That is a grand idea, but in reality things come up. Weddings, funerals, births, etc are things that we don’t want to miss. You will have to leave your homestead at some point, and if you are prepared for that day it will make it easier to enjoy when you are gone.
What automated systems do you use to take care of your homestead when you are gone? Please let us know in the comments below. Thanks!