Hobby farmers are busy people. The fact that they have taken on farming on as a hobby with their full time jobs to pay for it, should tell you something about the person. They either are a) crazy or b) …. ah, crud. There is no b. They’re just crazy, and love animals. Between working full time, renovating our house and having a hobby farm, there is little room for watching television, let alone breathing space. Hobby farmers do it because they love raising animals, they love watching them grow, laugh at their antics, talk about the comedy they were fortunate to witness, experience animal births and hatches, and not be at arms length – they are right there in the action of it all, smack in the middle of their very own hobby farm.
Or at least that why the Chef and Shepherd do it. Both work hard at feeding, cleaning and maintenance of the farm, as well as researching and learning about the animals, housing, and issues that pop up along the way. It’s a ridiculous amount of work, that we do because we love it. And it’s manageable. If everything is going according to plan.
Oh course, nothing ever goes according to plan. And when I got talked into an adventure-styled running event with some girlfriends (after several glasses of wine of course – because decision making in that state is always a great idea), I figured that I better get back to running. Lifting 44 pound feed bags is great for muscle building, but I had let the cardio slide, so in the next few days, I vowed to start to get back into my previous running shape.
After going for a run, and stepping on a tree root at the wrong angle, I heard the Optimus Prime Transformers sound grind out of my right ankle. Of course, I then landed hard on my butt, and swore so creatively that it would have made hardened truckers blush. Having never twisted an ankle before, I assumed that this was fairly standard for ankles and hobbled out of the woods. I assumed that with some ice and rest, I’d be back at it in a few days.
Wow. Was I ever wrong. The hubby looked at my ankle and advised that it would be weeks worth of healing. Seriously? But we have a farm to run, a house to reno, never mind work, I don’t have time! After the doctor confirmed the initial assessment, and I was in an aircast, I felt doomed.
So here’s a tip, that you probably could see a mile a way coming. If you have a hobby farm, you better have it ready to manage by one person. One person only. That means they are responsible for watering, feeding and cleaning of every critter you have. Because guess what? They also end up being responsible for inside normal chores; like feeding the aircasted-one, the dogs, the cats, doing the laundry, wiping counters and everything else. Thank goodness we have some much pulled chicken in our freezer!
So this is what we did to make things easier, which you may or may not be doing at your farm already:
- Installed automatic chicken waterers.
We had actually already done this, but the amount of water that chickens, turkeys and ducks go through is astounding. So we installed a second one. These are attached to huge blue plastic food-grade barrels. These are also helpful for all the turkeys and ducks cruising around.
2. Got the indoor animals out.
We had a whole lot of young turkey poults that were on the cusp on being being ready to go out from the barn, to the outdoor pen, which is 3 sided and covered and therefore has lots more airflow. Which means less cleaning due to it’s floor being packed wood chips. After the move happened, inside the barn suddenly didn’t have to be cleaned every three days – which cut down the workload considerable.
3. Cull if you can.
This sounds incredibly harsh, but if you’ve been putting off a cull, now is the time to do it. We had about 30 male quail that we hadn’t brought ourselves around to send to freezer camp. After the cull, we had less to take care of and clean up after. It sounds awful, but it’s logical.
4. Focus on the Animals.
We have plenty of projects on the go here. And anyone who knows me will laugh at that understatement. Our kitchen backsplash is still half tiled, and the floor isn’t finished. But guess what? That stuff is going to have to wait. The focus is all keeping all animals, happy and healthy (Er.. except the ones that went to freezer camp).
So if you find yourself, or your partner in an aircast, don’t panic. Taking the few hours to make the adjustments will help everyone in the long run and relieve stress, even though it’s more work initially. Meanwhile, it’s rest, ice and more blog writing for this Shepherd. Good luck and happy farming!