Farmsitter Directory Idea

I’m not sure where to begin, so I’ll just put it out there: we have suffered a tremendous loss to our family. George’s father passed away very suddenly last Monday at the young age of 57. We are devastated and heartbroken. We lost his mom in 2009.

The past week has been spent out of state for funeral services and time with our family. This is the first time we left the farm for more than a few hours since we started it almost three years ago. We were fortunate enough to have a friend who had the willingness, enthusiasm, and ability to watch over the farm for us during our absence. Julie rushed over last Tuesday morning and I did my best to train her on how to run the farm, after only having had two hours of sleep the night before. She did a wonderful job and will be writing a blog post about her experiences in the near future.

We got home late Sunday and I’m fighting an upper respiratory infection, along with the poison ivy rashes I acquired a month or so ago. These, along with my ongoing chronic health issues, have slowed me down considerably over the past couple of days. All of the frantic travel and activities are taking their toll on me today.

If you are a small farmer, how do you handle situations such as this? So many times I heard it suggested that there needs to be a temp service for farmers, but it’s really difficult to wrap my mind around how that is practical, given the variables one encounters farm-to-farm. We milk our goats with a machine; others do it by hand or with other equipment that will have different requirements. This is just one example.

But I think that there is a good idea here, and I’m willing to pursue helping to get it out there. Perhaps there needs to be a clearinghouse website for farmers and other capable hands to volunteer services for a particular geographic area. As with anything like this, the problem is integrity/character verification. Which, I suppose, can come through verifiable references, but there are just all kinds of details that need to be addressed with a project of this nature. If you have some suggestions as to what would need to be included, I am open to those!

Surely, we can’t be the only small farm where there is just a couple running it, no employees, and we are concerned about what happens when a tragedy or emergency requiring our entire family’s departure occurs. We were so fortunate that Julie took on the challenge! I would like to see if we can help others who have the same need. Obviously we need to find folks who are qualified, but we also need to be able to afford their services. This is quite a niche market.

Let us know your thoughts on this project in the comments – thanks!

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10 responses to “Farmsitter Directory Idea”

  1. Bana Elzein Avatar
    Bana Elzein

    Even though I’m so far away as to not really warrant having an opinion, I totally agree and support this idea. Having a farm means giving up what a lot of non-farm families take for granted such as weekends and vacations. I don’t think that something like this needs to be reserved for just emergencies. Why not be able to go on a vacation (even just a camping weekend) when you can. If there are people willing to farm sit in the fashion that you suggest when needed. Even I, without a farm (but with farm experience) would sign up to help my local small farm businesses in such a way.
    I say go for it! Good luck Trase and very very sorry for your loss. x

    1. Trase Avatar
      Trase

      Thanks so much Bana – we agree, it is something that farmers really need to try and factor in – being able to go away for a bit, whether for an unfortunate family emergency such as ours, or even for a vacation or attending a convention that will better enrich our farming knowledge!

  2. Paula Crowe Avatar
    Paula Crowe

    I never really considered what the family would do in a situation such as you have recently been through. First off, you have my sincere condolences. Loss of one’s father, especially at such a young age, is devastating. I lost my dad on July 4th, and it’s just something you cannot prepare yourself for, no matter their age.
    God forbid that this or other similarly urgent situation should happen again, but I do have a suggestion. I’m sure there is a 4-H club in your area. Or college students majoring in agriculture who would jump at the chance of a mentorship, with the goal of being an emergency “reliever”. Mentor these people on the particulars of how your farm is run. Of course, the kids would have to be old enough to assume such responsibility, but what an opportunity for one who wishes to own their own small farm one day! If other farms in the area would wish to do the same thing, within one or two years you would have enough people trained on enough farms to be able to utilize them in an emergency! This could also translate, as well, to other types of disasters that a farm could have where a few extra pairs of hands would help.
    I wish you strength and love during your journey through grief. I offer you my prayers as one who accompanies you on that journey. Blessings!

    1. Trase Avatar
      Trase

      Hi Paula!
      Thanks for the thought about 4H and colleges – that is something I’ve wondered about before myself, whether or not we could make contact with a capable, trustworthy person through those avenues. We are hoping to start a small 4-H group for our young son and a neighbor boy soon, so I will be making contact with the MSU based 4H state chapter – and given your suggestion toward that too, I’m going to pursue inquiries with them. Thanks so much for all your kinds thoughts. 🙂

  3. Donald Avatar
    Donald

    I think this starts with really understanding the process you go through, and documenting it. There are a lot of people who really could provide assistance in such situations, on any given farm, but as you say the specifics differ.

    Where I was working, we used the Training Within Industry systems developed during WWII to train the holiday staff, when we went from about 60 to 400+ people, for all of 6 weeks. EVERY piece of equipment had its associated Standard Operating Procedure document attached to it, or posted next to it, and each of those documents had been followed, precisely as written multiple times by multiple people, some with and some without any other training, to determine if that document was correct, if it had extraneous information, etc.

    Going that far could REALLY make the need to leave less stressful.

    1. Trase Avatar
      Trase

      Oooh, I am VERY interested in this Training Within Industry system, it’s the first I’ve heard of it. I am going to be seeing how we can perhaps implement it here. Thanks for the great idea!

  4. Donald Wilson Avatar
    Donald Wilson

    I think this starts with really understanding the process you go through, and documenting it. There are a lot of people who really could provide assistance in such situations, on any given farm, but as you say the specifics differ.

    Where I was working, we used the Training Within Industry systems developed during WWII to train the holiday staff, when we went from about 60 to 400+ people, for all of 6 weeks. EVERY piece of equipment had its associated Standard Operating Procedure document attached to it, or posted next to it, and each of those documents had been followed, precisely as written multiple times by multiple people, some with and some without any other training, to determine if that document was correct, if it had extraneous information, etc.

    Going that far could REALLY make the need to leave less stressful.

  5. Linda Doss Avatar
    Linda Doss

    I cant express how much I would love to come and learn how to manage a
    farm. My goal is to eventually get my own small farm, get out of the
    city and hang up my hat from working in the hospital. I recently went
    out to Byron Mi for a Beekeeping class so I can put a few hives on my
    property in Luzerne but am also thinking in the future as being able to
    utilize what I have learned for my future farm as well. I would love the
    opportunity to shadow on a farm and learn the necessary skills to make
    the farm work on a daily basis and would “volunteer my services” to
    learn. Just putting that out there….maybe you’ll take me up on this
    idea and put me to work so I can learn from you all.

    1. Linda Doss Avatar
      Linda Doss

      P.S. Put me on the list of “Farm Sitter”….of course it would be after the 2-hour crash training course. heheh

    2. Trase Avatar
      Trase

      Hi Linda! How fantastic! Did you go to Turtlebee farms for those classes? We had checked into their offerings a couple of years ago but haven’t made it over yet.

      As soon as we have a better grasp on how to provide the most effective and complete training, etc., we’ll be digging more into the farmsitting and I’ll let you know! 🙂 We are still trying to catch up from being gone, me being sick, and dealing with the family business that inevitably comes with an unexpected death, but I am hoping we get a breather here soon! Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the discussion! 😀

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