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by Julie Dees

Anyone who has ever lived on a farm or homestead knows what a massive commitment it is. With animals to be tended, plants to be nurtured, and daily chores to be done, it’s a full-time job. There is a huge difference between this particular job and an 8-5 desk job in the city though – vacation.

Taking time off for a vacation and getting away from the farm isn’t an easy thing to do, especially on the spur of the moment. You can’t just go tell the boss you won’t be back for a week or two. The four-legged and feathered bosses of the barnyard are a bit more difficult to negotiate with and schedule around.

To make your vacation a reality and maybe even save your sanity, you need to find a way to ensure that your farm is cared for while you’re away. If you don’t have regular hired help, it could mean asking a capable family member to temporarily take over things. A close neighbor might be able to check in and keep an eye on your place or even a local 4-H or FFA member might be available. But what do you do if these aren’t options?

Consider a Farm Sitter

Even if you have someone you can ask to cover in a pinch, you may want to consider hiring a professional. If your needs are a bit more work-intensive, your trip is for an extended period, or you’d just prefer someone well-versed in farm etiquette, you might look into hiring a farm sitter. Farm sitters are exactly what they sound like – expert babysitters for your farm.

There is a growing need for farm sitters as more people are keeping livestock than ever before. Even if you only have a few ducks and a miniature pig, they need special care when you’re away. An experienced farm sitter can be the perfect solution. Many are farmers themselves or college students who grew up taking care of critters. Some even farm-sit now as a full-time profession.

Some of the things a farm sitter can do for you include:

  • Ensuring your animals’ welfare, securing them at night
  • Feeding and watering animals, administering medicines or supplements when necessary
  • Spending time with pets, walking dogs, exercising large animals
  • Gathering eggs from the chicken coop
  • Tending the garden, including harvesting produce if necessary
  • House sitting – depending on the situation, you can hire a sitter to stay at the farm or just do regular checks and feedings
  • Cleaning and maintenance

Finding a sitter who fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. Placement agencies have popped up that specialize in matching the perfect farm sitter with you and your unique situation. There are also boards and forums online that can help you research sitters before choosing to hire one. Old-fashioned word of mouth still carries a lot of weight so be sure to ask around your local area.

Worry Less and Relax More

While the benefits of living a farm life far outweigh the negatives, it really is a treat as well as a necessity to get away for a bit. If you know that your animals, your garden, and your home are being expertly taken care of, you can relax and enjoy your vacation. When you return with a fresh perspective and a renewed spirit, you’ll appreciate this lifestyle and its rewards even more. Safe travels and happy homecomings.

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