One form of emergency planning for farms, that doesn’t get much attention is planning for times when you should have been home but you got stuck somewhere else. Sometimes this can go on for a prolonged period of time. Maybe you had someone lined up but after you left town, they had an emergency of their own. What if your farm sitter gets sick. Now I know that we can not prevent all types of things from happening but maybe with the help of my list, you can avoid some stress and potential disaster by being a little bit more prepared. A little fore thought and organization can help you with emergency planning for farms and homesteads.
Most of the time, I am not away for more than a few days. Family and friends have been asked to cover if we attend a wedding, or check on our aging parents for a day or two. But should unforeseen circumstances occur while we are away, we have a few backup plans set up ahead of time. Nothing too complicated, just some everyday practical safeguards that could help us relax a bit in the case of an emergency absence.
Here are my main points for Emergency Planning for Farms
1. Cross Train your family and farm sitters
-even if they hardly ever need to cover for you. Go over the basics of each animal’s needs and feeding routine. We all know the basics of animal care, ie: food, water, clean environment/stall etc. But if you have never taken care of a goat or a few chickens you might not recognize something is missing. We have experienced everything from no water in the buckets to gates left unlatched when using farm sitters. Even with training and lists, people don’t always do what you expect them to do. We have also asked trusted neighbors for backup when hiring a farm caretaker. This person would take a look from time to time to make sure the water buckets were full and no one was wandering the farm because a gate was left open. We hardly ever get to leave the farm, so when we do, I like to ensure that as little as possible is left to chance.
2. Have a routine that is easy to follow and write it down.
For example, First feed the goats, then feed the ducks and last, feed the chickens. Our animals are very aware of who gets fed first, second etc and get very agitated if we vary the schedule.
3. Clearly write out how the animals are fed
– for example do you use a feed trough, individual feed pans, one communal feed pan. We fed our goats on top of tree stumps at one time. It enabled us to spread out the feeding frenzy and the stumps were the perfect height for goat dining. But a newcomer to our farm would probably not have thought of this. Our barn cats get fed on a shelf so the goats don’t eat their food. These things are important to tell a farm sitter.
4. Write down even things that are common sense to you
– such as filling water buckets each day or twice a day. Some one might think a half full bucket is adequate but I know that once they all get a drink after eating, the bucket will be drained. Perhaps you could leave extra buckets of water or chicken founts to help ensure the animals have plenty of water.
5. Post an emergency list of people who can help if needed
You might be able to reach a neighbor to help but they may need to get some hands on help too. Give them an idea of who else is familiar with your farm. Keep your cell phone number posted in the barn too.
6. Keep your supplies, feed and first aid products stocked up
Keep these products in an easy to find organized way so that your help doesn’t need to search high and low for the antibiotic spray or the extra bag of chicken treats.
When you know you are going away, over stock on feed so you have plenty on hand. Make sure it is stored in a secure environment to prevent spoilage.
7. Post all of this information on the door to your barn
– or your feed area. Make it weatherproof by laminating it or putting the information pages into plastic report sleeves. And don’t forget to update the information as needed.
Keep your farm ready for all sorts of potential disaster by employing the points listed in my Emergency Planning for Farms.
Being a little over prepared never hurts. And should the unexpected happen, you will be very glad you had your ducks in a row. Add your thoughts emergency planning for farms or homestead in the comments.
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This post was updated in May 2016 from the original post from 2013
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