"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Taking a Break

We are leaving town on the 17th, going to Oaxaca for christmas, a two week vacation. I'm looking forward to the trip; we haven't been to Mexico since Bibi was just over a year old... how long is that? Oh my God, it's two and a half years. How the time does fly. Which is also how we are getting there this time; no more month long roadtrips. Can't do that when you have a farm!

I'm actually getting quite nervous about leaving the animals for so long. Many people answered my ad for house and farmsitting, and I spoke to several. The person I finally hired however was Michael, a boy I've used as a farmhand on several occasions in the past. He's done fencing for us, and done a fine job, always showing up on time and working hard. He doesn't know squat about animals though. But his girlfriend does, some, and they'll be staying here together the whole time. 

I had them out last week and walked them through the routine, but they will also need detailed written instructions.

Detailed Written Instructions

Mornings: Mudboots are in the playroom. Let the dogs out with you when you go out to do the feeding. If it froze during the night, fill three milk jugs with warm water. Distribute among pails. If it didn't freeze, try the hose, but I bet it's frozen. In the small barn there are four big blue snap-top containers. Each has a picture of an animal on the lid: that's the kind of food you'll find inside. Also inside each bin you'll find a scoop. That's the right amount of food for each animal (two scoops for the alpacas). Feed the pig first if you want him to stop screaming. Oh, if there were any dinner leftovers, toss 'em to the pig, too. The alpacas and the pony will tussle over food, even though each has their own bucket. Don't sweat it. Just toss the chicken food right out on the ground. Scatter it well or the horse will try and eat it. The goats have two buckets. Split their food between the two buckets so they can all get some. Careful of the electric fence. There are extra bags of each kind of food if you run out. Hay for the alpacas and the pony goes in the big barn on the wooden pallet. Altogether they need two or three flakes. The goats also need two flakes, please put it inside their field shelter. Check the barn for horse-poop and fork it out the window onto the compost pile. I always scatter a thin layer of clean hay in the nest boxes because I hate shitty eggs. If it's raining, close the windows. Call the dogs on your way back to the house, they run off sometimes. Better yet, when you first go out, you could put them in the goat enclosure with the goats. Feed them when you come back in. Only Ivory is allowed in the house, and she only because she has no fur and would freeze to death. Dog food is in the playroom by the fireplace. Oh don't forget the bunny. Just a big handful of his food which is under the hutch and make sure he has water.

Evenings: Hay for everybody, chicken food for the chickens, pig food for the pig. Try to get on it before dark so the chickens are awake.  

Aside from this, I'll need to write out instructions for the house: how to use the washing machine, TV remote, computer, etc. Please please please PLEASE remember to turn off the heat every time you leave the house so there's still propane when we get back. That kind of thing.

Before we go I must: put pictures of the animals on the feed bins and find the right scoops for each. Make sure there are enough water buckets and feed bins for everybody. Worm the goats. Write out phone numbers for the vet, my sister, and the neighbor. Try to quit freaking out. Breathe deeply.