Taking A Vacation

by Sandy Larocque

When you have livestock, taking a vacation can be a major undertaking. I have found there are two kinds of vacations – those you take with your goats and those you take from your goats!

I show my goats, so, when I leave home, all of the milkers have to go with me. It is just too hard to get someone that knows your animals, as you do, to milk. This effectively limits my milking herd.

This was all I cared to milk, as well as all I could stuff in the pickup truck. I, then, would have to find someone to take care of all the animals left at home. If you don't have milking animals, this usually isn't a problem.

Taking a vacation (from) without your goats can be more difficult. A few years ago, I got a chance to go to Florida for a week. All my does were still milking, so this presented a challenge! I finally decided to leave all the kids on the does, and got my daughter to come over twice a day to feed. This presents a completely new list of problems. No one takes care of your animals like you do. The challenge is to make a list of chores that includes everything. Things that you do as a matter of course need to be broken down into steps.

Making a list of your chores needs to include all of the animals, their locations, descriptions, how much of what each animal gets and where it is located. Don't forget the all-important location of the feed – I once spent about a half an hour looking for the cat food for a friend's kitty. She told me how much and when but not WHERE! It helps if your feed containers are labeled clearly.

The master list that I make has a simple map showing the locations of the pens and they are numbered or named. The feeding list starts where I normally start my chores, listing how many goats are in each pen, who they are and how much of each type of feed they get, any medications they get and any incidentals about the goat. Each pen is listed.

Dogs and cats have their own section. I try to have all the needed buckets and such sitting in one place for the chore person. One page of the list is devoted to emergency instructions. I include a contact person if I will not be available and my vet's number. This sounds like overkill but better safe.…

An easy way to do this is to set up the list on your computer in a program like Word. Save the list and every time you need it, update it. Some sections won't have to be changed at all and others will change with the season. Print out a copy for the chore person, and a spare copy in case someone eats the first copy (this does happen, trust me!).

Actually finding someone to do the chores may be the real trick! Professional pet sitters are fine as long as they have experience with livestock. They can be pricey but are used to doing this kind of work and generally are reliable. Your local 4-H or goat club may have a goat person that will chore for you. You may be able to trade chores with them. If they chore for pay, the price is almost always reasonable. I am very lucky as my daughter and grandson do chores for me when I have to be away but everyone isn’t as lucky.

Make your chores easy to do both for you and for your chore person. It will pay off in the long run and you both will be happier as will your goats! Everything should be clean and organized. If possible, have a time set for the chore person to come over and go over all of the chores with you so you can answer any questions. Then, you can go on your vacation worry free!!