Earlier this year, Bob and I signed up for a bus trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. We were disappointed when that trip didn't fill and was canceled.
I found another bus trip though. This one would be with Lamers Bus Tours to the Grand Canyon and southwest parks.
Months passed and suddenly it was time for last-minute preparations before leaving home. I shopped for clothes for hot weather. Shorts were on sale.
I could only find two pairs of shorts for Bob. He has none because he never wears shorts, and I mean never, but for this trip to hot country, he said he would…at least twice…if he had to, Rebecca said we had to take a photo of her dad wearing shorts to save for posterity.
We worried about leaving the farm. Arrangements had to be made for someone to take care of our dog, cats, and chickens. Lucky for us, Rebecca and Andy volunteered to stay at our place the whole time we were on vacation.
There was a bit of a glitch in having Rebecca and Andy doing our daily chores. It seemed they volunteered thinking about taking care of our dog and cats. They forgot about the chickens, which they don't like… in fact they hate our chickens, except for eating eggs.
The kids didn't opt out of staying here, even when they found out that 15 five-week old chicks had been added to our flock of five adults and that one hen was brooding and expected to hatch her eggs while we were away.
We were supposed to write a list of instructions for Rebecca and Andy so they would know exactly what chores to do. I started to jot notes, but never got very far. I couldn't seem to put an average day into words.
I delayed doing the list until it was almost too late. Instead, we did the next best thing. We had Andy and Rebecca come to the farm and take notes as we walked them through our chores.
First, we started in the house. "I take Sunny out for a quick morning walk every day," I said.
I even told them where his favorite place was to do his business. Timing for this outing would have to change for our pooch since the kids would be heading into Green Bay for work at the usual walk time. Darkness would also prohibit them from going far. The dog's real walk would come after work.
I explained about dog food and cat food. "I put the cat's food on the steps and set up a kiddie gate so the cats can get to it, but the dog can't. The cats have some dry food and share one can, divided, and set in two different locations. Cruella eats alone."
(I hoped Cruella would come out of hiding and eat something. She always disappears when company is around and now she would have 13 days with 'strangers'.)
As I explained our chores, it started to sound complicated, and we hadn't even addressed the chickens yet.
The young chickens were inside the chicken house, inside their own little pen. The old birds weren't ready to accept them yet - one chick had jumped out by the big chickens once and got chased around by a plucky hen. I didn't want that to happen while we were away.
Chicken food was explained - different kinds are in different garbage cans - Andy scribbled notes, but he said the chickens were up to Rebecca to take care of.
Finally, we went out to the shed where Bob feeds the barn cats. Oh yes, we've spoiled them, too. There's dry food and canned food to be placed out for them every day, and then locked away so wild critters won't have a feast.
The house needed some notes, also. If it was hot, switches turned on in the basement would circulate air-conditioning through the house. If it was cold, Bob posted a note to the thermostat that worked - the other one is for the corn furnace which isn't set up yet.
If the water stops running, bang on the switch on the pump. Hit it hard, but not real hard. The electric box was also pointed out, in case the coffee maker and the microwave were run at the same time and a fuse blew.
The vet number was posted on the fridge for emergencies... for the dog or inside cats, but not chickens. All instructions were given. We were ready to leave. Next week - our vacation begins.
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net;