Last night I embarked on a Spring Break journey to Tahoe. The goal is not only to comply with my son's Christmas wish to frolic in the snow, as all Floridian children long to do, but to enjoy a much needed respite from clinical stress (much of which has been dogging me as of late). Unfortunately, that also means this pet owner must suffer the inevitable separation — one made ever more complex due to my pets' elaborate needs.

Not only do my dogs need to be fed, watered and let out for daytime play, my chickens must me fed and my goats fed and milked. None of which is easy. In fact, anything to do with goats is likely to be fraught with twists and turns befitting any Shakespearean comedy; comedy being the operative word. (They are incredibly funny, even as they're making you tear out your hair in massive clumps).

Which is why I thought it might be fun for you to observe how kookily detailed I have to get when prepping my "replacement" for her chores before leaving for a mere long weekend. For your amusement, here's what I penned earlier this week for her edification (btw, this was after several trial runs at the process, for good measure):

Info for March 11th thru 15th...

Thank you for your labors!!


1. Feed chickens 3/4 scoop chicken feed (tiny grainy pellets in big tin container).

2. Serve 1 heaping scoop goat chow (corn and pellet mix in second big tin container) into Tulip's red bucket.

3. Unlock gate's clip.

4. Feed Poppy small handful from Tulip's bucket (place into Poppy's bucket on the fence). She's fat. Don't be tempted to feed her any more.

5. Lock gate behind you with clip (Poppy likes to escape into the wider yard while you're milking, making it difficult for you to keep her from eating sensitive native vegetation and getting her back into her enclosure).

6. Entice Tulip into her stanchion with feed bucket as bait. Place bucket into position and close stanchion's "neck brace" to lock her into place.

7. Lock second gate behind you to ensure Poppy doesn't disturb the milking process (and she will, given half a chance).

8. Place milking "bucket" (the quart-sized plastic container) under Tulip's udder and do the deed.

9. Do not worry if Tulip steps in the milk. Proceed as if nothing happened. The goal is to keep Tulip milked, not to collect a potable sample (unless you want to take some drinkable milk home).

10. Feel free to disengage once half a quart (at least) has been collected.

11. Collect any eggs you might find in the nest boxes or goat pen (they like to lay rogue every now and then).

12. Pick up any avocados that might have fallen overnight.

13. Feed each cat 1/2 can food.

14. Enter house and decant milk through clean sieve into available container. Wash eggs if necessary and wipe with paper towels to ensure cleanliness.

14. Enjoy the spoils of your labor — bragging rights, included. ;-)


1. Offer Tulip 1/4 to 1/2 flake of alfalfa (in large gray plastic garbage bin).

2. Collect 1 scoop of goat chow in Tulip's red, heart-shaped bucket.

3. Proceed as for a.m., omitting Poppy's portion (she's hogging the alfalfa anyway).

4. Collect eggs and avocados.

5. Do NOT feed chickens again. The cockroaches keep them sated.

6. Feed the kittehs.

7. Enjoy the spoils of war.

Next day:


I will return Tuesday evening but I will arrive too late to attend to my critters. I will see you Weds AM to pay you for your fine services. Text me at 305-xxx-xxx if any question arises — anything at all.

- PK

And that's just the backyard pets. Don't even ask what it takes to keep the indoor pets comfy. But this time they're going to the clinic. It's just too much to ask a newbie to treat the boys, too.

Dr. Patty Khuly

P.S. What do YOU do to go above and beyond in keeping your pets in the style to which they've become accustomed while you're away? I can't be the only kook, so 'fess up ...

Pic of the day: I am trying to eat better, I swear it! by 2-Dog-Farm