Win a copy of Permaculture Design Companion this week in the Permaculture Design forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Mike Jay Haasl
  • Burra Maluca
garden masters:
  • James Freyr
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton

Caring for animals while I'm away

 
Posts: 76
Location: central illinois
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I really want to get goats. Chickens and an lgd or two also. My wife is not as excited about having animals. Her main argument against them is caring for them when we go away overnight. We've only been back on our family farm for 2 months and are in the early stages of setting up our life here,including getting to know the neighbors whom I am hoping to talk to about helping with animals while we're gone. Please share your experiences and advice on this.
 
steward
Posts: 1191
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
120
goat duck trees books chicken bee
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Another benefit of starting a homesteading group is that we can trade chores so everyone gets a vacation.
 
steward
Posts: 4669
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1551
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

My experience it that it is easy to trust someone to watch the animals if they are already watching them every day before I go out of town... I heard a story just today from my favorite egg supplier that recently while they were out of town that the help didn't put the chickens into the coop in a timely manner and the predators acted like it was happy hour.

My daddy and I shared the cow milking duties... That way, each of us knew the animal, and she knew us. We had the muscle strength to actually milk her. Then If daddy had to go to work extra early, or if I had a scout camp to attend, it was no big deal, because each of us were already caring for the cow (her calf, and the horses) on a routine basis.
 
Posts: 416
Location: Otago, New Zealand
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have a friend that house sits and looks after animals. You might have someone in your area that you could use on a regular basis who would get to know your animals and what needs to be done.

I can't imagine a farm without animals
 
Posts: 145
Location: New Zealand
7
hugelkultur purity forest garden books cooking woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We go away overnight fairly
often, if we are only away one night we give the dogs 1.5x their ration and all other animals just take care of themselves. If its any longer we organise someone to feed the dogs and cat once a day and flick the pig some grain, usually a neighbour and we do the same if they're away. Its easy. Hell if you're only leaving in the afternoon just feed things before you leave
 
Posts: 26
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Your wife has a good point. If going away overnight is important to you (and sounds like it is to your wife) then you should establish a plan for how you're going to take care of your critters before you actually get them. Make friends with the neighbors beforehand and see if one of them has a responsible teenager or something you can hire to come over and do that. Most adults I know are too busy to take care of someone else's animals, but might be able to do a trade (you take care of their animals while they go away).

If you want the goats for milk, this complicates things. This really chains you down to morning and evening milkings, and not everyone will know how to milk a goat, and you won't trust everyone to do it for you either, as improper milking can really mess up their udders, or lower production if they don't know how to get all the milk out. And too much grain, of course, can make them very sick. I don't even trust my husband to take care of my goats, but maybe he is a special case.

You might find when you have animals that you don't really want to go away, unless you can find someone you really trust to care for them. They're kind of like kids in that way.

I've had 6 goats (2 milking) for about 6 months, and am now wishing I had done a little traveling before I got them Because now I am pinned down for the forseeable future. But then again, I love having all the fresh, organic milk, and am so glad to have them.
 
pollinator
Posts: 291
Location: Southern Finland zone 5
90
goat fungi tiny house books homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have had goats on our homestead for many years now. Our main milking goat is a virgin milker so there's milking to do every summer whether we like it or not :-D We like it though! She gives milk about 1.5 litres per day in the early summer when the grass is lushest. Then the yield goes down to 1 litre per day and stays there the whole summer. In the fall the milk yield gradually goes down. In the winter it's about 3-2 dl per day but she never goes completely dry. We milk her once a day during summer and fall and once every 2-3 days in the winter.

My husband milks the goat (and takes care of all the other animals too) once a week so I get a break from it. We have gone on minivacations (2-3 days) and arranged someone to come and take care of the animals. It's true there aren't many people who can milk her perfectly, but they milk her the best they can and it has been good enough so far. I figure the pros of going away at least once a year are bigger than the cons, even for the animals it is better that we sometimes get a break because we can then take better care of them. If you never take a break or go away then -  in my case - that's a recipe for burn-out and depression.
 
Nina Jay
pollinator
Posts: 291
Location: Southern Finland zone 5
90
goat fungi tiny house books homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I will add that our virgin milker's maximum yield 1.5 litres is only 0.4 gallons per day and that's why it's okay to milk her only once a day. If the goat has kidded she will give much more milk and you have to milk her twice a day, unless of course you let the kids suck their mother and only take a portion of the milk, which is what we have done.
One more point: even though the goats, if they have kidded, may have to be milked twice a day, that's only for a period of 6 months or so. Then they begin to go dry and you can milk them once a day. That's generally much easier to arrange than twice a day milking. So by timing the operation right you can more easily go away.
 
Posts: 8
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just a thought. If you don't have neighbors willing another option might be to get in touch with your local 4-H. They may have a group that has older teens interested in animals, you could offer to "show them how your homestead works" and even have them come help out once a month or so with "farm chores" There might be one in the bunch who would be willing to learn more from you and be on call to stop over when you are away to care for the animals. Just an idea, could benefit the local youth as well as you down the road.
 
Posts: 1976
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
156
kids duck forest garden chicken pig bee greening the desert homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We keep all our animals in their respective fences (we usually free range) and have a neighbor come throw food over the fences. The dogs would rip them up if they went IN the fence so just throwing it over is all we require.
 
He puts the "turd" in "saturday". Speaking of which, have you smelled this tiny ad?
Heat your home with the twigs that naturally fall of the trees in your yard
http://woodheat.net
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!