Notes for the Farm Sitter (or Oh, this is why I’m so tired)

Day 79 of 365

Morning Chores

We usually start between 6:30 and 7:00, though I think the animals would prefer earlier. Still, they seem to be doing just fine, and two-thirds of this family are night owls. So we sleep a little late for farmers.

The first thing I do is head out to let out the ducks and the meat birds. We will get to their food and water later, but I go ahead and let them out to allow them to drink from yesterday’s water until the fresh arrives. I collect the ducks here as I head back into the house to do the next round. You don’t have to worry about washing the eggs. You can just leave them in a bowl or the egg basket. Of course, you are welcome to eat any you want.

Next, I head to the garage. 

Ruby, Juliet and her babies, Kate and her one baby, and my five babies all sleep in the garage at night. You can just open both garage doors with the buttons by the door. Everyone, except my babies, who are in the fenced area, will fly out. 

*Please note that Kate is starting to ditch her baby. This is pretty devastating since we are leaving. I am not sure what to do other than please just keep an eye. Kate just started this today. Thanks, Kate! So far, she is still letting her baby (Beatrice) hang around her, but you might want to check on them a few times throughout the day if you get a chance. 

Next, there are two bowls of feed for the main chicken coop. There is one with the bucket and then a smaller rubber bowl. The big chickens get the organic layer pellets. When you go to the door, I recommend having both foods ready to go. I will sneak in the little bowl first, so some of them go for that. It’s the only way I can get the bigger food with the bucket in the door. The chickens make it hard to open the door!

Don’t forget that Bianca (she’s the little brown Easter Egger who looks just like Juliet) like to leave the coop in the morning and run around the driveway. She usually just does this for an hour or two and goes back to the coop, unlike Ruby, who is difficult all day long. If the mama hens (Kate and Juliet) are not around, I will sneak Bianca some of the organic cracked corn. It’s on the left by all of the food. If the mama hens are around, there’s no point trying. They will just be mean and run her off. Bianca is a fantastic, sweet chicken!

Next, I go around and open the little door on the back side of the coop. This lets everyone be free in the fenced area to enjoy the day. If the big waterer outside needs to be filled, that is something I will get to later. 

The next step is to move my babies out to the fenced area for the babies. I would first take the water and food out to the Faverolles in the crate and let them out. You can close the gate, and if you go around to the left of the wood pile, the fence is a little lower there. You can just put my babies over the fence right there and not have to mess with the gate. As you will see, the latch is a bit difficult. 

This is Piatigorsky!

My babies are as follows:

  • black chicken = Hector (Hector is a girl)
  • dark gray chicken = Faure (also a girl)
  • light gray chicken with zero comb = Piatigorksy (the best hen in the history of the world)
  • light gray chicken with large comb = Dvorak (a rooster who is pretty sweet but just starting to peck a little and assert himself)
  • light gray chicken with medium comb = Rostropovich (the most difficult hen in the history of the world besides Ruby)

Hector, Faure, and Piatigorsky will come right to you and let you pick them up. So you can move them out to the fenced area first. I do one at a time because they are getting so big. Dvorak is pretty good about coming to you, though he might try to peck you first just to let you know he’s a big boy now. And then there’s Rostroprovich. Catch her by her tail or feet or whatever if you can. If you cannot catch her, just let her fly out and make her way to the fenced area later. She wants to go in there. Sometimes, it just has to be on her own terms. Hopefully, though, she will be reasonable with you. 

You can do waters for all of these chickens on this side of the house now or wait until after the ducks and meat birds are done. 

Next, the ducks little rubber bowl gets a fill with the same organic pellets as the big chickens. The meat birds get the organic crumble in the orange bag, and the my babies—along with Kate and Juliet and their babies—get the Purina organic crumble.

When you take the ducks their food, just clean and fill the three bowls by their little food house. I will have done their kiddie pool, so you don’t have to worry about that while we’re gone.

Take the meat birds their food and then give them some fresh water. After all of the animals have fresh water, there’s nothing to do throughout the day besides check on poor little Beatrice and, if you like, there is watermelon in the garage. If it’s super hot, you can slice up the watermelon and give everyone a treat. Oh, and I try to collect eggs about 4:00 in the afternoon. As I am typing these words, we have no broody hens in the coop right now, but Silver (the hen with a silver body and gold head) is having urges. 

*Just be aware that, today, when I gave the meat birds their watermelon, one of the hens got a little aggressive with me. I think it could have been that she wanted to peck my toes though. Maybe just wear closed-toe shoes with her around. She’s a big girl. Her pecks kind of hurt. 

When you come inside, the cats should be waiting on food. I left all of the cans of cat food by the fridge. Sophie gets a bigger plate and gets ½ of a can. Betty and Bella get a smaller plate and get ¼ of a can. Please put Sophie in the guest bathroom to eat and close the door. Otherwise, Bella eats her food. 

When Sophie is finished eating, if she will let you, please pick her up and put her on the sink in the guest bathroom and turn on the water to thin stream. Every time Sophie eats, she likes to drink out of the sink. 

If Sophie will go for it, please feed the cats like four or five times throughout the day. Sophie has a thyroid issue and needs to eat quite a bit. She’s so shy she may not eat at all, but she seemed pretty comfortable around you, which makes me hopeful. 

There is a tea kettle and lots of teas to the right of the stove. There is also a small coffee pot, and the ground coffee is in the refrigerator. You are also welcome to anything else in the fridge, and after you finish all of those chores, I hope you can spend some time on the deck and watch the Eastern Phoebes and hummingbirds. 

Evening Chores

About 6:00 or so, please feed Boudica. I have left some chicken strips for her in the refrigerator. Please cut up a few into small pieces and add to two full cups of dog food. Her dog food and the dry cat food are in the little closet in the living room. Also, if she gets hungry earlier, she will get her stuffed unicorn and throw it at or near you.

Wait until about 8:20. If Ruby is in Juliet’s crate, please remove her and set her on the box-spring, fence thing. This is a reasonable place for her to sleep in the garage, though she may disagree. 

One by one, pick up my babies and bring them in to the fenced area in the garage. Rostroprovich is always last about this, and sometimes, I just have to go about my other chores and come back to her. Eventually, she gives in and lets you catch her, though she will sometimes give you a peck just because. If, for some reason, you just can’t get her, just let her go and keep an eye. After you close up the Salmon Faverolles in the crate for the night, she eventually starts to head to the garage, and you can herd her into the fenced area. Again, she wants to go, but it has to be on her own terms. 

The Salmon Faverolles (Molly, Prudence, Lil, and Eleanor) will sometimes get on top of their crate instead of inside it. If it’s late enough, they will let you pick them up and go into the crate. Make sure the crate is closed and then carry out the food and one of the waters to the fenced area for my babies. The tiny waterer can go inside the crate for the overnight, though I am not sure they drink anything until they get out the next morning. 

Next, close the little door on the back side of the coop. Make sure everyone is in first, but, usually, the chickens in the main coop go to bed pretty early. Rooster insists.

Bring in both of the food bowls and put them in the garage. I leave the water in the coop overnight in the summer. 

Then, head over and get the duck food bowl and meat bird feeder. Bring them around to the garage. Close the garage doors once everyone is in there. Close up the main chicken coop doors. 

I usually wait until about 9:15 for the next part. It’s time for the duck game! First, make sure the back porch light by the duck house is on. We also leave the porch light on the deck on all night for the meat birds. 

Take one half of the bag of frozen peas from the freezer and put them into one of the white cereal bowls. Put it in the microwave for 1 minute and 45 seconds. Stir the peas around a bit and then go another 1 minute and 30 seconds. Stir the peas around a bit and then add water until the bowl is full. 

Head down the back stairs with the bowl. Make sure Betty doesn’t get out, as she seems to really want to get out to get the moths and other bugs at night. Sit the bowl down about a foot from the steps. Hopefully, the ducks, who are very shy, won’t be too shy and will eat their peas. If they don’t, well, you tried and can try again the next night. 

Then, just try to herd them into the duck house. I usually make circles around the duck house to convince them it’s time for bed. I don’t know if they will go in circles with you or not, but it’s worth a try. 

Close up the ducks. You have to push hard to do the latch. Then, go close up the meat birds. Hopefully, no one is out. If there is a rooster sitting at the door, I have found that he will scoot back when you start to close the door. Please use the screen door instead of the solid door if you can. 

Rest and have a good night. I think Boudica will take good care of you right back. 

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