Farm Sitting- Trying it on for size

Ever find yourself humming along to that silly old tune “Green Acres is the place to be, farm living is the life for me…” and think yes indeed, I want to have a farm? Dream of trading in your laptop and commute for a pair of muck boots and being on a first-name basis with the local feed store manager? My suggestion to you: try farm sitting. Get to know someone with a farm and offer to help them out by taking care of the animals and chores for a weekend- they’d probably be thrilled at a chance to get away for a couple of days.

We’ve had a few opportunities to farm sit for my mom’s alpacas, which affords us a chance to really consider what it would mean to take on the full time responsibility of owning our own herd or flock of livestock. The chickens are one thing- pretty low key on the scale of basic care and feeding with a small flock like ours. But what would life be like if we had a FARM? If we lived the dream and added a herd of sheep or goats or other larger livestock, how would that change our lives? Could we adapt and maintain our current work schedules? What about the kids and school and social commitments, could we make it all work?

I guess the short answer is: yes. Obviously. Families have been farming for generations-right alongside the day jobs, the kids, the schools, etc etc etc…. they get it done. Spending a whole week actually doing these things, however, brings the reality of that lifestyle home. We were up at 5 a.m. and out the door to do chores, not commiserating over how cold the floors are and whose turn it was to make the coffee. After just a couple of days of mucking out stalls and hauling buckets of water and hay bales multiple times a day, on top of our regular work schedules and running the kids to their “appointments,” we found ourselves utterly exhausted- and then it was time to go back out and muck out more stalls.

For the most part, I would say that a week spent farm sitting helped us to visualize how exactly we COULD manage it all, rather than scare us off of the idea. Jobs need to be assigned, chore schedules worked out and agreed upon, and outside commitments clearly communicated. Just realizing the amount of actual TIME it takes each day to clean out a stall, or to fill and move water buckets, is really valuable in helping to understand the commitment you would be making to a farm lifestyle. The animals have to be tended. Every day.

Even with all of our extended family running farms as full time enterprises, and being engaged with them and helping out when we stop by for a visit, it takes being the ones wholly responsible for the place to really help us to understand what we would be in for as a family if/when we do decided to get serious and have a “farm” of our own.

So again I say- try farm sitting out. I guarantee it will be a real eye-opener for you.



6 responses to “Farm Sitting- Trying it on for size

  • Barbara Anderson

    I enjoyed this post…thank you. I have thought about doing farm sitting after I get some experience with large animals. Would like to know more about alpacas.

    • keepyourmemoriesinyourshoes

      Thank you for visiting, Barbara. Alpacas are wonderful, gentle creatures- but like any livestock do require care and a certain amount of heavy-lifting, although mostly it’s cleaning up after them and moving hay for them. I love hanging around their pastures after I’ve done the chores just to watch them graze about and listen to their humming- it’s a really peaceful sound.

  • scorwin

    Oh yes, that’s an excellent recommendation!!! A read a year about chickens before I decided to get my tiny flock of 5! I, myself decided for sure not to ever get a milk cow just by reading “Chickens in the Road”! Now, tiny goats, I’m still thinking about that. Who has goats??

  • Cindy

    Living on a farm is great. You trade all those social connections and extra curricular activites in, not because you don’t have time but because you you really don’t want to go. You acquire friends with like interests, as do your kids. Saturday nights are spent on the farm with your friends who all bring whatever is in season. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t sit around for a Saturday with less than 10 people. Projects become a community effort, which usually turn into someone bring a big batch of fried chicken or enough chocolate pie for 20! There is no better way to live. My son could care less about soccer or football. Instead, he enjoys swimming in the river, fishing in the pond, and playing tag with “his” goats. As far as vacations, I rarely take them. It’s not because I can’t but I bought my farm so I could enjoy everyday. I live in most people’s idea of a vacation, so why go anywhere?!?! However, if anyone wants to come farm sit, than come ahead. I’ll bake you a pie for when you are done!

    • keepyourmemoriesinyourshoes

      Thanks for the visit, Cindy! It sounds like you have the right idea as far as farming goes and that your family has embraced it. That is wonderful! I totally agree that one of the best things that seems to come out of this lifestyle is the sense of community that it grows. It’s nice to hear that your son enjoys the farm!!

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