Getting away from the farm business for a week or more is a big challenge for many farmers. Leaving aside the difficulties in getting labour, not being around to run the farm every day can leaves many farmers thinking that they can’t get away.
It’s not that they don’t think they can be replaced, it’s more so that will the person coming in know what to do if this, that or the other thing happens.
This thinking often leads to the conclusion that it’s easier to stay around than go away and in many cases that’s probably true, but it doesn’t fully take into account the benefits of getting away.
So what of the farmers that do get away regularly, what do they do to organise themselves?
Firstly, these farmers are organised in the sense that they have a plan in place for the person coming in to replace them.
This plan details what paddocks the cows and other stock are going to graze next. It details what cows, if any, need any treatments.
The plan also shows what to do in the event that something happens, e.g. mastitis, power failure, water issue, cow gets sick etc.
It’s much better to have all of these things written down in a plan for the person covering for the farmer so they shouldn’t have to make contact with the farmer at all when they are away.
Getting multiple calls per day when on holidays isn’t really a holiday at all as you’ll be forced to think about the farm, whereas the benefit of a holiday is that you should get time to switch off from the farm.
In the event that something unforeseen does happen when the farmer is on holidays, it could be a good idea to ask the person in charge to contact a person appointed by the farmer for advice first.
That person could then either make decisions themselves, or contact the farmer. This person could be a farming friend, discussion group member, etc.
Another important step is to make sure that there are written protocols in place for operating machinery and equipment.
Some farmers even make little videos explaining how to operate milking parlours, pumps etc and send these to whoever is in charge.
The whole act of being organised enough to get away forces the farmer to simplify the operation and make things more streamlined.