Thursday, March 21, 2013

Building Unity Farm - Managing the Farm in Our Absence

Paul Harvey wonderfully captured the responsibilities of being a farmer.  Just like being a CIO, being a farmer is not a job but a lifestyle.

When I called my wife and daughter in the hours after my father's death last week, we had to figure out how to manage Unity Farm during a situation that required the absence of the entire family.

We created a workplan and contacted a nearby farm to ask for their help.

Here's what we had to document

Alpaca/Llama care
  Hay management in two indoor and two outdoor feeders
  Twice daily grain feedings
  Heated water bucket filling
  Snow clearing in the alpaca paddocks
  Manure management in the barn, paddocks, and composting area

Chickens/Guinea fowl
  Feeder filling (with multi-flock crumbles)
  Providing greens (romaine lettuce)
  Heated waterer filling
  Coop cleaning
  Opening and closing the coop during daylight hours
  Counting all the birds to ensure they return from their free range adventures
  Turning on the inside lights during the day and off at night (guineas will not roost in a dark coop)

  Feeding the dogs in the evening
  Heated water bucket filling
  Providing them snacks and toys

  Lettuce feeding
  Hutch cleaning

  Ensuring fences are not damaged by falling tree limbs or snow drifts
  Managing the electric fences
  Ensuring protective lighting is working to keep predators away
  Keep barn doors closed
  Keep property safe

We never expected to all be away from the farm at the same time, so creating detailed instructions required significant short term work.

A farm hand from our adjacent farm did a wonderful job and I returned on Sunday night to find Unity Farm in perfect shape, other than one barn light that was knocked down by a falling tree limb.    Kathy stayed with my mother an extra week and returns to the farm on Saturday.     Just as IT professionals plan for redundancy and disaster recovery,  Kathy and I have learned the importance of contingency planning for the farm.    We have been an inseparable team for 33 years.   Keeping all our professional and personal activities in balance is easy when we're together, but nearly impossible when we're apart.

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