Vacationing Farmer, an Oxymoron?

Reader Contribution by Sue Dick

So, tomorrow morning we leave on a two week roadtrip. I can’t wait to go (for all the obvious reasons) but the biggest being that once we finally pull away from here, all my preparations, stressing and work are done and what will happen will happen and I can just throw up my hands and go with fate (and hope it’s kind).

I know most farmers don’t get vacations. We’re very lucky in that my father-in-law was once a farm boy and actually enjoys coming out to re-live farm days (except we don’t threaten him with a switch, so it’s probably better than his old farm days). He spends enough time here that I know he knows the routine, and while I’m gone I really won’t worry about the care my animals are receiving. I’ll still worry about things I can’t change like weather and such, but not so much it’ll ruin my holiday.


Fill all waterers. Check. Wait, the 16 gallon waterer in the chicks paddock isn’t keeping a vacuum anymore and it’s all drained away an hour after I filled it, jump in the truck, head to the feed store, get another, come back and set it up. Check

Check bales for both cattle feeding groups (we are in drought and we’ve been feeding all year as our pasture is as green as our driveway right now). *sigh* both groups need new bales and I don’t drive the tractor (well enough to manoeuver through gates and animals carrying a 1,700 lb bale). File away for when the husband gets home from work (before packing. after supper. before loading the car up).

Top up mineral for cattle and sheep. Cattle mineral has enough copper to kill sheep, so we have two different kinds for the two different feeders in different paddocks. Realized I wasn’t comfortable with only MY knowing this information and took a Sharpie marker to both bags so that one reads “SHEEP” over every available blank area and one “CATTLE” so that no matter how he looks at it, he’s bound to see it. Realize I’m low on sheep mineral and curse myself for not having checked before heading to the feed store and then head back to the feed store.

Go to check on the pigs and see a bunch of my laying girls out of their yard. My dog Blue is a chicken killer and so I hurry to round these ladies up before she eats a bunch of my eggs in vivo, and then patrol their yard to find where they’ve escaped from. Fix the smallest hole ever (seriously, 6 of you got out of that?!) and head over to the pigs.

The pigs have pushed their wooden trough over the electric fence and are standing inside their paddock (thank you!) watching what I’ll do. After being shocked only once or twice in my haste, I get the trough back into the correct place and fix the electric so it sits where it should, and realize I’ve now garbaged another pair of sneakers. As an aside, I’m slowly learning that even if I think I’m only running out to do one small clean thing that will only take a moment, I should dress and behave as if it may be a half-day expedition where I am liable to bathe in muck. It would save some of my “good” clothes.

And so, I THINK I have everything in order now and hopefully every creature behaves for my in-laws. And I won’t think about it any more. I won’t think about it any more. I won’t think about it anymore … 

Sue Dick generally enjoys spending time at home at Ivy Hill Farm, a small heritage-breed based farm in SE Manitoba, Canada, but still admits to getting excited about time away. For more about the farm visit or for the daily dirt and pictures visit the farm’s facebook page