When it comes to finding someone to take care of my animals, I will admit- I’m pretty picky. Anyone who knows me can attest to this, I’m sure. I am the type of person who has the “it will only get done right if I do it,” attitude to begin with–thanks to my Dad mostly–and this definitely carries over into taking care of my animals. Now, I do realize that it is okay for things to get done a little differently while my husband and I are away, but any stretch from a little is when the anxiety takes over.
Since moving to a new area near my husband’s hometown, we have been very fortunate to have friends and family take care of our animals. But that hasn’t stopped me from providing care lessons and posting instructions in the barn. This leaves no excuse to mess anything up….right?
And honestly, I have found I am a little more lax if we are only gone for a day or a night. Like, oh, as long as the animals have something to eat, and some water, we’re all good. Beyond a day and night though, we’ve got to get serious about filling the caretaker position.
While we are being honest, there is kind of a care hierarchy when it comes to each specific animal. The horses and the dogs fall into number one priority, while the chickens and cats follow behind. I LOVE them all, trust me, but the chickens always have some sort of something to peck at in their coop, along with plenty of water. They aren’t going to starve or get bored. And the cats? They’re barn cats! Spoiled and demanding when they don’t get fed when they want, but still! I know they hunt, because they leave their half-eaten treats in all their glory for me to see. And they always have plenty of water. Plus, most of them prefer to drink from the horse buckets. So, like the chickens, they aren’t being neglected.
The horses and the dogs have some major pre-reqs. Plus, the dogs are a little trickier because even though they spend every possible minute running around outside with me, they actually live in the house.
During our most recent long-ish vacation, my mom totally came to the rescue. I actually felt pretty honored because my sister and brother-in-law joined my husband and me on this trip. And they have two dogs as well. Luckily, my brother-in-law has an awesome family who dog-sat for them. Which left my mom’s caretaker services all for me…:) She left my dad at home and stayed at our house for three nights…during the winter! Anyone with animals knows winter makes care-taking about 273,378 times harder. And when you are gone for multiple days during the winter, it’s really important to have someone willing to break ice in water buckets if necessary, close barn doors if it’s snowing and blowing, and…we can’t forget….check/change the dreaded blankets. (Side note: We did not grow up blanketing our horses unless we ABSOLUTELY had to. But now I’ve got a senior horse who is hard to keep weight on, and a young one I like to ride all year long. So blankets it is.)
Anyways, my mom really did a lot for us. But we also had a friend feed one morning and night so my mom could run home (with our dogs of course) and relax at her own house. Just to come back towards the end of our trip to feed one more time and drop off the dogs. It really worked out well, and we could not have been more appreciative of all who helped.
Here’s a picture of the instructions for my mom. Now, my “basic go-to” instructions for everyone else can pretty much be summed up in “Throw hay and give a scoop of oats.” Not much difference at all…..right? 😉
I did return the favor shortly after, and my husband and I dog-sat for my parents. Lilly is basically our girl Shelby’s mini-me.