Thursday, July 3, 2014
PROLOG 2: PETS AND THE BEST LAID PLANS
I often refer to Murphy in my posts and it was pointed out to me by a family member that some of you might not know who Murphy is. He’s from Murphy’s Law http://www.murphys-laws.com/murphy/murphy-true.html/ you know if something can go wrong it will go wrong. The hyperlink above will take you to an interesting explanation of how the phrase came about.
Since the first of the year Murphy has been trying to move in with us. From big expenses like the truck repair to petty annoyances. Our Murphy hit just prior to the trip fell somewhere in between those two extremes and threatened to nearly cancel our trip.
While Disney now welcomes pets in their campground there was no way I was traveling in a pick-up truck 2400 miles round trip with two large dogs, six cats a dozen geese, one Musovey and assorted guinea fowl.
We thought we had the details all worked out last year. Our normal pet sitter and her children would be asked to do the job, but then she got pregnant and was due about the time we were to leave.
So we went to plan B and found a good friend that was willing to come by two to three times a week to refill all the auto feeders and such we planned on using. Just before we were ready to leave she had to have emergency surgery. I am delighted to say the surgery went well and she is now recovered.
But at the time we were looking around for plan C, which turned out to be a combination of Plan A and Plan B.
Our usual pet sitter delivered over two weeks early and with the help of her husband and two older children felt she could handle most of the animals without any trouble. However the geese might be a problem. Not to worry we already had that all figured out.
We had created our own version of automatic feeders and waterers for them and the normally free ranging geese would be penned for the entirety of our trip.
Because many who follow my blogs are farmers/homesteaders who often find they cannot leave even for a weekend because they aren’t blessed with agreeable pet sitters. like we are, here’s what we did.
For feeders for both the geese and the other birds we used plastic trash barrels that the guys had cut holes out near the bottom of the barrel just big enough for grain to come out of it by gravitational flow as needed.
When making these we recommend you start with a fairly small hole every 6-8 inches because as time goes on the birds will increase the size of the hole.
This type of feeder also works well for dog food, cat food and any other type of pelleted or seed food. Just make your openings a free flowing size.
Then fill the barrel with feed and put the lid on. Our 50 gallon trash barrels hold three 50# bags of scratch each easily. We left the birds with 12 bags of feed, almost twice what they would normally eat in that time frame when free ranging.
The outside of the pen birds had large tubs of water that only occasionally needed refilled so we left a hose stretched to those where all she had to do was turn on the hose to refill.
Geese are different however, they need to wash their bills when eating a lot, they cool off by sitting in water and of course they need it to drink.
Our solution was to purchase two large wading pools, the rigid plastic type Wal-Mart sells. These we put next to the fence of the pen on the inside with the birds.
Before we left the pools, along with several of their normal watering tubs were filled.
Above the two pools dh zip tied a water hose to the fence above each pool, where the water would go into the pool, but where the birds could not knock it out.
The hoses were attached to a double hose automatic timer that was set to run for five minutes every two days, one hose at a time. This was attached to a splitter at the faucet and the faucet was left on.
Because the timer has shut off valves there was never any pressure on the hoses that might possible cause a burst hose.
We decided upon the time and when by field testing the set up before we left. It worked perfectly both in the test and the entire time we were gone. She never had to set foot in the pen with the geese, and in fact there was still plenty of water and feed for the geese when we got home.
Inside we have four cats in one section of the house and two in the another. We normally use the Tidy Cat Breeze system for the two cats and a combo of Breeze system and clumping cat litter boxes for the other four and the boxes are scooped on a regular basis all the way around.
However, the four are indoor/outdoor cats and therefore do a lot of their business outside. This had us concerned because we would be gone 19 days and really hate to ask someone to scoop the boxes that often.
So another wading pool was purchased, the smallest size this time. Two of the Breeze boxes from there, and a spare one we had were put in for the two cats (4 boxes for 19 days should be plenty right?)
Where those boxes had been previously we placed the small wading pool with four buckets of clumping cat litter in it.
While the pet sitter did have to scoop some still, the overall mess was well taken care of and in fact we had far fewer “accidents” then we normally have when we are home.
Our dogs are outside dogs, so they were easy to set up auto feeder and lots of water for.
The cats already had automatic feeders, so it was just a matter of adding extra bowls of water for them because C was going to visit regularly to hand out moist food to the dogs and cats.
The day before we left I also contacted my vet and told them we would be out of town and that C., a regular customer of theirs, would be caring for our critters. That she had permission to authorize emergency treatment up to X amount of dollars. Anything past that we would need to be contacted. Luckily she never had to call the vet.
So all our preps worked out well, and Murphy got a knock out blow on this one.
Jan who loves her critters, but has way too many to travel with them in OK