While the rooster’s away…

…who looks after the chickens?!

I was in Maine for four days, at the seaside, hence the lack of posts. I’d have let you know beforehand, but it turns out advertising on the internet that you’re not going to be home for a number of days isn’t such a great idea.

It’s not easy for chicken owners to go away on vacation, or for any reason. There are enormous threads on Backyard Chickens devoted to that very conundrum. Yes, we love our chickens, but…are we to be chained to them for ever, without any kind of a break?!

How did I do it? Ahhhh, I have a secret weapon…Chicken Debbie the Oracle of Agway. Chicken Debbie is my mentor, friend, and neighbour. She knows more about chickens now than I will ever know. And she lives right down the street.

Given the rhythm of my flock’s day, Debbie came between 7 and 8am to let them out of the run, set them up with feed, water and treats, cleaned the coop and went to work. At sundown, she returned to find them neatly assembled on their respective roosts. All she had to do was put away feed and lock up. And then text me, of course. A quick smiley face is all it takes for me to relax, knowing my girls were in the best care possible.

It’s a good thing I didn’t know that we were under a tornado watch here on Thursday. Debbie went above and beyond by asking one of our neighbours to keep an eye on the girls, and give her a call at work in case she needed to make an extra trip to hunker them down. Fortunately, it turned out to be just rain. Others nearby were not so lucky.

For those of you who do not have a Chicken Debbie, what to do? There’s always family and neighbours, of course, but that isn’t always possible. For example, the Man’s mother, a bastion of making sure shit gets done, is terrified of birds. She’s becoming acclimatised to the flock, but there ain’t no way she could ever be called upon to look after them.

As urban chickeneering becomes more and more popular, pet sitters are learning to add chickens to their repertoire. Your local vet will often have a recommendation, as well.

You deserve a vacation! I know I did.


9 thoughts on “While the rooster’s away…

  1. Hiring a professional pet sitter is also an option, for those who don’t have a Chicken Debbie! Now that I have chickies of my own, I’m going to add chicken sitting as part of my services. You can find a pet sitter by doing a google search for a pet sitter in your area or try someplace like Pet Sitters International http://www.petsit.com

  2. You are so lucky to have a chicken Debbie!

    I have a friend that is in LOVE with my chickens, so I am thinking that if we were to go on an extended vacation, she and her boyfriend would be the best to watch them. They are definitely bird people!

    My daily check list is time consuming. We have too many at the moment :P

    How did they all do without being let out to free range? Bet they wrote you official complaints ;)

    • Au contraire! They free ranged all day. Debbie opened up the run and coop on her morning visit, and locked up at sunset. Yes, I left my chickens out, all day, unattended. It’s a calculated risk.

      • Oh I missed that part: “Let out of the run” I thought you meant, let into the run. Do you leave your pop door open 24/7?

        I thought you put everyone in at 3pm?

      • No, pop door is on a timer, which I adjust as sunrise and sunset times change. Right now, it opens at 6am, and closes at 8:30pm. I used to round them up at 3, after Angelina was taken, but, as things calmed down, and as the girls exerted their independence, I grew lazy about that.I now let them go into the coop on their own, about half an hour before sundown. So far, so good…

  3. Disaster struck the first time we went on vacation since getting our first chickens in March… I really don’t think we’ll be going on vacation for a while! Too traumatizing! We did sit in on a chicken workshop last year, though, and one of the attendees was a pet sitter, interested in learning more so she could expand her offerings. Pretty cool!

    • I’m sure there would be a wild difference in charges, from place to place, and sitter to sitter. I think I’m getting a bargain, frankly…

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