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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar. 15, 2006

    Default What do you do with your critters when you are on vacation

    What do people do about their animals when they go on vacation.

    I am going away for 3 weeks and have three pet sitters. One will come 3 days a week, and the others each two days. My pasture that has 5 horses has three 110 gallon water containers, The one with three horses has an 110 gallon one. The one with 8 horses has two 300 gallon containers. I am putting 4 round bales in with the 5 horses, two with the three horses and 10 with the 8 horses. I am also leaving 70 round bales to be feeded if needed. The goats have two 30 gallon containers and a 40 gallon one. I am having the pet sitters give them hay each day. What do other people do?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr. 3, 2003
    Up the creek from bar.ka


    Oh vacation. What's that?

    The last time DH and I went some where together we sent all the horses out to be boarded. It was very expensive but it was completely worth the peace of mind.

    The dogs stayed in the barn and the neighbors came over to feed them and play with them.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug. 14, 2000
    Clarksdale, MS--the golden buckle on the cotton belt


    I have auto waterers on stock tanks in my setup. Have a fellow who keeps his horse in a paddock and barn on my place and he shares a fence line with the pastures. He feeds and checks twice a day when I'm gone.

    I leave enough feed to cover the times I'm gone. For hay, I use 1500 lb round bales, leave alfalfa cubes for the old mare who has her own paddock and prefers them, and squares for every one. For a week If I'm going to be gone for a week, I will leave 3000 lbs of round bale hay and one and half square bales per day for supplemental feeding. The old mare gets the full amount of senior feed twice daily, so the cubes are just an extra precaution. She also gets flakes of grass hay, but generally doesn't eat them.

    4 horses are out 24/7 with access to open stalls in a shedrow. So they also have access to exercise and pasture.

    For my barn cat, there is catfood left, which the horse guy feeds. Cat free feeds and the feeder is kept full for him. For the house dogs and cat, there are two outside auto waters, a dog door that is left open into the house and three self feeders that each hold about 25 lbs. I have always free fed mine. I have a fellow who lives in one of my rentals who is supposed to come daily to check on the house critters and make sure the house cat is fed, and I usually leave several additional bags of dog food and more than enough canned cat food to go with the cat's dry. One thing I've discovered is that the house dogs don't eat nearly as much when I'm gone as when I'm here. For instance, I left this set up when I went to the WEGs and one of the dog feeders was not even touched when I got back.
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 28, 2002
    East of Dog River


    Whassa vacation?

    The last time I was away was when I was prohibited from going home by the doc who cast my busted foot (lisfranc fracture/dislocation and stuck in a walker). Cousin looked after the horses and when he couldn't, a friend came out and watered and hayed them. I DID come home a couple of times a week though to stand in the porch while my friend fed the house cats and she helped with the barn cats - refilled the cat 'dish' with dry food and opened tins to make them happy. When I did get home, I would turn the horses out (quite a feat when one is stuck in a walker) but they were good about both out and back in. Any other time I have left, it was a case of taking the horses with me to some racetrack for a weekend.
    Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2005
    Spotsylvania, VA

    Default rarely leave for more than 4 days

    Dogs are boarded and I have a horse sitter who checks water and if needed feeds hay daily. I have big tanks and put round bales out so she doesn't have to do all that much..

    She's reliable, I trust her but if she was killed by a bus the day I left the horses would be hungry and thirsty when I got back.

    Unless something happens I don't expect contact either way. I trust her
    I wasn't always a Smurf
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 23, 2002
    Prospect, ME


    DH and I haven't been gone for more than three nights together since we started dating. But when we're gone for a night or two, we have someone come stay at the house to keep the dogs and cats happy and grain the horses who need it. The horses have pasture, round bales, and auto waterers. When I've had horses who needed medical attention and I've had to be gone, either the farm sitter does it or my horsey neighbor stops by to take care of things like Pen injections that the farm sitter can't do.

    I'm hoping we still have the same farm sitter next year when we're planning on taking our honeymoon/first vacation together. It'll be the longest we've been away from the farm in over three years at that point.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan. 15, 2004
    Lancaster, PA, USA


    dog: goes to kennel
    fish: vacation fish feeder
    rest of critters: (horses, guinea pigs, hermit crabs, house and barn cats) are fed by farm sitter
    Farm sitter: is one of 2 folks: farriers wife or the 4H girl that works for us part time (local college student)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2009
    Silvana, WA


    We leave for a week-long vacation at least once a year.

    The dogs go to the kennel or friends, depending

    The barn and garage cats get left enough food/water to last while we're gone.

    We hire a pet sitter (very responsible neighbor girl) to collect eggs and feed/water the chickens as well as take care of the horses. She cleans stalls and preps supplements for us M-F all the time, so we just add feeding the supp's (with handful of sweet feed) and hay (in winter) to her responsibilities.

    I trust her to keep it well under control (and her mom keeps a watchful eye). That said, I usually ask a friend or my trainer to stop by a couple of times since pet sitter isn't that horse savvy.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007


    Vacation? Don't know what that is.

    I did have surgery and one of those took several days in the hospital.
    Dog went to a friend's kennel, neighbors fought over who was coming to feed and check 3-4 horses, depending if one is at the handicapped therapy group and water twice a day, I left the feed laid out for them.
    Horses are housebroken and go in a corner and that corner can pile up for some days, although I clean it twice a day.

    Horses are out 24/7, so they have pasture to eat on all along, but of course right now the grass is dormant, very low in nutrition and they really need the alfalfa we feed.
    They have a large shed to get under, where they are fed along the fence on mats.
    No one has to go in with them, unless they want to check something out.
    Horses have access to four different 8' tanks, on self filling floats in boxes in the tanks, so they could do without water coming in for a few weeks if they had to.
    Everyone here, when checking any livestock or pets, knows to check water sources, EVERY TIME.

    For just overnight, dog stays in the house, the horse feeder/checker will check on dog, play with her, etc.

    It is very comforting to know there are such good, caring and sensible neighbors around.

    Vacations? I have a friend with a boarding stable that could take my horses for a few days if I needed to, but I don't "do" vacations.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun. 18, 2007


    I just had my first trip since 1996 Olympics. At the 1996 trip, things were easier, as Mom and I still lived together, and she was still competent, so someone was still on the place 24/7 who knew the routines. She dealt amazingly well for a non horse person with something that did come up (abscess) with phone coaching from me and a couple of visits from the vet. She was even giving IM shots herself by the end of that one. Good old Mom - she specialized in "dealing with it," whatever the it of the moment might be.

    For the WEG trip, with no Mom available and sitter arrangements required, I got a big load of round bales. I put in 6 round bales with the horses (4 horses), with more outside to be rolled in if needed. I tried to give them more than required, though, and it wasn't near gone. Big pasture with run-in, horses out 24/7. 100-gallon water tank that I usually top off twice a day and basically never see empty, and there is a spring and creek down the hill, too. Pretty low-maintenance setup for a pet sitter. I walked the fence thoroughly before I left and left instructions on Fence 101, including how to change the lightning fuse if the controller got hit in a storm, which happens a few times a year.

    The sitter watered and counted horses twice a day. Fed barn cats twice a day - this was the only problem encountered, as the barn cats know my schedule, not the one being kept, and the one being kept wasn't the same every day (weird sitter work schedule), so attendance was a bit irregular, but they are coming back now I'm home. I did leave specific instructions to not leave food down outside. Too many varmints out here. Unfed barn cats would have to acquire Fast Food.

    The sitter also went inside twice a day, counted and petted indoor cats, topped off indoor bowl, and replenished water. The dog was boarded.

    I left numbers clearly posted for vet and me. I also did have contact at least every other day while at WEG.

    Other than wandering and vanishing barn cats, no issues came up.

    Emily Dickinson, chief barn cat, cracked me up. I knew there had been a problem with irregular barn cat attendance while I was gone, just hoped they would realize in their wanderings and huntings that I was back. Well, 30 minutes after I got home, Emily announced herself loudly at the front door, having obviously noticed the car. Sleek, shiny, and didn't look like she'd lost an ounce, but she was quite ready to check back into the usual regime. She's not about to give up permanently on such a soft touch cat meal ticket just because I disappeared for 2 weeks, although she did scold me about it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct. 24, 2003
    The rolling hills of Virginia


    Vacation? What is this thing called vacation?

    Seriously, we go one at a time around here. After almost 10 years, my husband and I went away for a week (2 hours away) for our anniversary. We had the two regular barn helpers work together, both shifts, every day. This ensured double coverage for the horses and was a safety factor for them as well. No one had to be here alone unless one of them had an emergency. And we were just two hours up the road with multiple ways to be contacted.

    Young dog went to kennel. Old dog went to my Mother's (it was her dog originally). Sheep and cat stayed here on the farm.

    A drastic amount of information was in a binder in the tackroom. From any possibly necessary phone numbers, to keys to the rig with turn by turn directions to two 23 emergency clinics w/maps, phone numbers and a credit card. Even the barn helpers had sealed envelopes with their emergency contact info and copies of their health insurance cards.

    And that is just the highlights.

    The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2007
    NW Louisiana


    In the summer, my friend who keeps her horse here will feed once a day and top off water. Mine are out 24/7 on grass pasture, so that's all that's needed. They have about 500 gallons of water in two tanks.

    Winter is more difficult because they have to be fed hay, but they will turn round bales into bedding. Either my in-laws next door will open the gate to the front pasture in the morning, where my friend has left out a bunch of hay, or someone else will come feed them. Friend covers evenings.

    In-laws let out the dogs and feed them. Chickens are left with a bunch of feed in their feeder, but they also free-range. Cats will eat out of the catfood bag that stays behind the TV cabinet all the time anyway.

    It works because my in-laws live next door, so there is always someone to keep an eye on things. They are not very horsey, but they do know to call if something looks wrong.

    But usually, hubby stays home when I go to visit my parents, and we only take trips for a day or two at a time. Maybe once a year we will be gone for a week.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2006


    I generally don't go away for more than two days at a time. If I did, well, I have three horse sitters, I guess I could schedule them on different days so nothing would go unnoticed (IE someone not showing up). After PP's thread, I'd be pretty concerned to trust someone to leave for an extended period.

    My horses live out, have a fresh water spring, and I give them a heated trough to drink out of in the winters. They have 12 acres of grass (for 3 horses) in the summer, so supplemental hay is not needed. In the winter, I put out round bales so it's very easy to care for them. You basically need to check water, and drop feed 2x a day.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar. 6, 2009

    Default Two "time over-lapping" pet sitters ~

    Two pet sitters ~ over lap in time schedule = for safety & to ensure full coverage ~~~~ expensive but works ~~~
    Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov. 4, 2003
    Sanger, TX, USA


    When we both traveled a lot for our jobs, the dog went to the kennel where
    she got extra attention and play time because she was one of those want to please border collie types and got along with everybody. A sitter took care
    of horses and cats (all indoors) twice a day. Checked in a couple of times
    during the week and always gave the sitter a call once we had walked in
    the door.

    Here we sometimes take the horses to "camp" and sometimes a friend takes
    care of them. Dogs go to a kennel and since they always seem happy to get there unlike a trip to the vet, it must also be like camp. Actually, the kennel
    has a very large training room with kennels around three sides so they get to
    see lots of stuff. The agility trainer takes the one out who had some agility training years ago and lets her run a few obstacles. A neighbor comes in
    twice a day and feeds/does litter boxes for the cats.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec. 4, 2007


    From the sitter POV, my coach ran into problems not too long ago.

    She was away at a family function, leaving thursday afternoon. I was working wednesday to saturday so I wasn't available for the full sitting duty. Other sitter was supposed to look after critters thursday night, friday morning, and then coach's nephew would be arriving to care for the rest of the weekend.

    All looks good in theory, right?

    I went out thursday night (friday morning) after work just to check and make sure everyone had hay and water. More a late night check than anything else. Topped up buckets, everything looked ok. Did the same thing friday night but this time no one had hay or water. Sitter's car was in the driveway, so was nephew's, but no sign of either of them, and it's 1am! Fed, watered, turned out the boys. Left a note and went home.

    Sitter had been trail riding in the back 100, and her horse freaked out and flipped on top of her. She was out on the trails for over 24 hours before she made it back to the barn and drove herself to the hospital sometime saturday afternoon.

    Nephew saw the car in the driveway and figured sitter was just finishing up for the night (he arrived after 9pm after working since 5am), so he went in and went to bed. Never checked the barn.

    When I arrived I assumed sitter had left car there and carpooled somewhere after finishing work.

    No one knew sitter was hurt. Horse had lost halter on the way back to the barn somewhere, no note was left, nothing. No indication.

    There was a double system in place, but it failed. Nephew had a funeral to go to saturday and never would have known something was up had he not seen the note on the door; he would have seen sitter's car and assumed she was back out in the morning. We still had no idea what was up with sitter till sunday night.
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  17. #17
    Join Date
    May. 5, 2009
    Location: Indiana, but my heart is in Zone II


    All my pastures have run outs so I put out round bales and fill the waters ( giant tubs). My boarder feeds if needed, makes sure all are OK. My friend stays at the house w. the dogs ( no one will stay at my place WITHOUT my dogs).
    Come to the dark side, we have cookies

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul. 14, 2003
    Rhode Island


    Once or twice a year we go away for about a week. dogs go to the kennel. Cat has several water dishes full and a full dry feeder. Horse has all her meals( with supps) bagged and labeled( am & pm). I stock up my hay bales, so I have plenty. Goats get grain at pm feed . Son comes twice a day or a good friend( who cleans stalls, gives snacks ) will come if he can't and vice versa. She works nights, he's a fireman, so I have a schedule of who does what when. Between the two of them I have coverage. Son's wife is a "farmer in training", so can do it all if need be. We usually do not go in winter if frozen hoses are a possibility, so our travel time is between April and November( maybe December). I contact the vet and authorize any treatment needed and leave a long list of phone numbers.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar. 14, 2004
    Left coast, left wing, left field


    There are three of us that lease a barn. If one is gone, the other two cover. If two are gone at the same time, they hire a sitter to help the third person.

    My best friend and I (we are two of the three) just got back from a week in Arizona. A friend did morning feeding, the other boarder did evenings. Evening feeder took care of the cats and dogs (cats are either indoors or in barn, dogs were in kennels -- the sitters were free to let the dogs out while they were there).

    I am lucky -- I live on the property where the barn is, and being a huge farm there are quite a few other people on the property (tenants, other boarders, etc.). I never feel like my animals are "alone". I probably COULD leave them with water (with a float) and a round bale even if my two friends weren't around, but it has never come to that.
    Arrange whatever pieces come your way. - Virginia Woolf

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  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb. 20, 2010
    All 'round Canadia


    Horse is boarded in a full-care barn, so she's not a problem for going away. When I was away for 7 months (deployed) she was also ridden 3 times/week by my instructor to keep somewhat fit, but for short vacations I don't bother with that.
    Heck, I was away for a course for 2 weeks in Aug when she had an eye ulcer. She had an eye cath and needed medicating 3 times daily and I was going to vet board her, but the BM told me not to bother, he would take care of her. The barn is great.

    I had ferrets too, and went on 2 deployments while I had them. I hired a well-recommended, bonded/insured pet/home sitting servioce to look after them, and never had a problem. When I got home they looked and acted as if I'd only been gone a day.

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