There’s nothing quite like growing your own vegetables and collecting eggs for breakfast that your backyard chickens laid that morning. But when it comes time to leave your homestead, even for a few days, it can start to feel really overwhelming.
We recently got back from a week-long trip to visit family and friends in Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. It was wonderful to see family and friends and experience a change of pace from our daily life!
This trip was right in the middle of a busy part of gardening season on our homestead, and although it was a tremendous amount of work to prepare to leave our animals and garden—it is possible to take a vacation, even during the busiest part of the year.
If you have a small homestead and you are trying to figure out how in the world you can take a vacation and ensure that everything survives while you are gone, here are 8 tips for how to prepare to leave your homestead for a few days or more.
While homesteading is a year-round endeavor, there are definitely some months that are less busy than others. For our little farm in zone 6b, these months fall in the late fall and winter. At this point, the weeds are dying off, the grass doesn’t need to be mowed, the garden isn’t in the middle of busy season, there are fewer eggs to collect, seeds aren’t being started, and we are spending a lot of time inside.
If you are wanting to take a vacation and you have the ability to plan when you will leave, try to plan it around when you have less work outside. If you don’t have the ability to do this due to your work schedule, school schedule, or another reason, try to plan a week in the middle of your busy season that is not when vegetables need to be harvested or when animals are having babies.
We had to leave our homestead during one of the busiest times of the year, so keep reading to find out some ideas for how to prep your homestead for vacation even during busy gardening season!
When we first got our chickens, there were a lot of upfront costs so I just got the cheapest plastic feeder and waterer that I could find at our local tractor supply. After about a week, the food container had cracked and the watering container was a pain to unscrew and refill.
One of my friends recommended investing in large metal feeders and waterers. Although not completely necessary, we made the switch and wish we had done it sooner. We don’t have to refill the metal feeder or waterer for a few days, which allows for quick weekend trips. It also stays much cleaner and is sturdier than the plastic options.
I cleaned the coop the night before we left and stocked up on extra food for the chickens. Azure Standard sells chicken food in bulk at an affordable price if you are looking for ways to save on healthy feed for your chickens. We store the food in a metal bin to ensure that animals don’t get into it in our garage.
If you’re just leaving for a quick weekend trip, you might be able to get by for a few days with this feeder and waterer. If you’re gone for longer, this will be less work for the person who is helping you while you are gone.
Click HERE for links to my favorite chicken keeping supplies!
Automate Your Homestead
For months, we were manually letting our chickens in and out of their coop. We often worried something would break in to their run if we didn’t close the door in time at night. We had a raccoon get in once and it got one of our chickens, and we have been on edge about predators ever since since!
Carson ordered and installed this solar powered automatic chicken coop door. We also have this camera so we can keep an eye on if the chickens made it in their coop at night or if any predators are trying to break in to their coop. This makes it easy for us to leave for weekend trips and it is a lot less work for when we hire help! This is especially helpful if the people you hire do not live close by because they won’t have to drive over to let the chickens out in the morning and put them up at night.
Carson also installed a drip line for our garden. The drip line uses an automatic timer so that we don’t have to spend hours watering it daily! We eventually hope to expand the drip line to our flower beds and orchard.
Hire Someone You Trust to Care for Your Homestead
We traveled on a week when a lot of our family was out of town, but we were able to ask our neighbors to care for our garden and animals at our house and Carson’s aunt took care of our dog. At first, I felt nervous about leaving our pets and garden for a week. But, I trusted our family and friends to take good care of them while we were traveling.
We are blessed to have incredible neighbors and family who took care of our animals and garden like they were their own. Everything not only survived but also thrived while we were gone.
If you are traveling, you could offer some resources from your homestead to the person or people helping you like fresh eggs and veggies in addition to paying them for their help.
Additionally, we have a smart lock on our house that allows you to program different codes to give to people helping out when you are traveling. You can lock the door remotely from your phone.
Leave Detailed Notes about your Homestead
I tend to be an overly-detailed person, but I’d rather leave too much information than not enough! If you need someone to care for your animals, water your garden, and harvest your plants, leave organized, detailed notes for the person caring for your homestead while you are gone.
Click HERE to download this chart for FREE to make your notes organized and easy to follow!
Prepare in Advance to Leave Your Homestead
We honestly started preparing for this trip months in advance! Carson installed the drip lines and automatic chicken door himself, and we blocked out time to work on these projects. If you know you want to plan a trip… especially during a busy homesteading season, start planning and preparing well in advance so that you aren’t scrambling the weekend before leaving.
Leave Your Homestead in Good Condition
The week before we left for our trip, my husband was out of town for a work conference. I wasn’t able to keep up with the weeds and Carson always does the mowing, so we had our work cut out for us when we got back! When we got home, we worked hard to catch up on yard work and get ahead of the weeds before leaving for a week.
We didn’t leave it perfect, but we sure worked hard to make our flower and garden beds look nice prior to leaving. We cleaned up our half-finished projects and put our lingering tools back in the shed. Although it made for a busy day and quick turnaround, it was so nice to come home to a yard that didn’t completely resemble a jungle!
Let Go of Control
This one was probably the hardest for me! I have spent hours tending to my garden… choosing seed varieties, watering it daily, and pulling weeds for hours. I don’t know if there is anyone, other than my 3 year old, who loves our garden quite like I do!
We raised six of our chickens from the time they were a few days old. I spent hours planting perennial and herb gardens around my home. Even the most trustworthy hire probably won’t love my garden and farm animals the same way that I do, but that’s ok!
Taking a break and visiting extended family and friends was more than worth the effort of leaving our little homestead. Our family and friends cared for our garden and chickens so well while we were gone.
Because we hired people we knew and trusted, I was able to relax knowing that everything was in good hands. We came home to a thriving garden, happy chickens, and well-loved pets.
Leaving your homestead for a few days let alone a whole week can feel daunting. If you’re like us, you probably spend hours each day tending to your land, animals, and home. But, if you prep in advance and use some of the ideas above, it is possible to leave and come back to a thriving garden and well-loved animals. The memories we made with family and friends this past week were well worth the effort it took to leave our little homestead.