Farm-sitting

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by RedFernFarm, Aug 17, 2005.

  1. RedFernFarm

    RedFernFarm Member

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    Sorry to post on both Homesteading forums, but I wasn't sure where this would fit.

    I was wondering... what does everyone do with your farm/livestock/pets/garden when you have to go out of town and don't have family in the area?

    We were considering starting a farm-sitting business in our area so people could get away more. We'd do a thorough consultation visit before taking on each job, so we'd know all the specifics that needed to be done. It seems that there would be a need for this. If anyone has feedback, please send! Would you use this kind of service? If so, would you look for specific credentials or just people who had experience with animals & gardens?
    Thanks!
     
  2. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

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    We have done both. There definitely is a need for the service. We have the school down the road take care of our animals (once a year for 3 days). We have taken care of the lady's animals up the road as she goes to herding trials through the year. Go for it; should be fun.
     

  3. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    From my eBook on How to Earn Extra Money in the Country. Still free for the asking at scharabo@aol.com.

    HOMESTEAD, HOME OR FARM SITTING:

    In western Ohio several people have started homestead and farm sitting services for times when the owners need (or want) to be out of the area. The average age of farmers is increasing, meaning many no longer have children available to help out, and they may not even have any farming neighbors. For a homestead with perhaps one milk cow or a couple of goats and other livestock, arranging for their care during vacations or other times is just as important as it is for the farmer.

    Those providing these services meet with the owners beforehand, make an itemized list of work to be done (including milking, feeding livestock, moving livestock between pastures and other chores) and then guarantee performance. This service could also include living on the farm during the owner’s absence.

    If you live in an area with a large population of ‘snowbirds’ (people who go a warmer climate for the winter) becoming a caretaker for their unoccupied house in your area may be a possibility. Services provided might be checking several times a week to ensure it has not been broken into, watering plants periodically, picking up and forwarding mail, etc.

    House and/or pet sitting seems to be an excellent opportunity for retirees to supplement their income.

    While the following are oriented towards house sitting in suburbia or long-term caretaking, many of the same principles would apply:

    • The Caretaker Gazette, 1845 Deane, Pullman, WA 99163-3504. Periodical which covers long-term caretaking.

    • How to Design, Own and Operate a Successful Homesitter Service: Basic Information, Contracts and Forms All Ready to Use! by Maxine Sommers, Pound Sterling Publishing, 462 Poenisch Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78412.

    • How to Run a Homesitting Business by Jane Poston, available from Homesitting Security Service, 1708 East 9th Street, Tucson, AZ 85719.

    • Sit & Grow Rich: Pet Sitting and House Sitting for Profit by Doyle, available from The New Careers Center (303-447-1087).
     
  4. katlupe

    katlupe Off-The-Grid Homesteader Supporter

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    I would use a service like this if there was one available and I could trust them to do a good job. When we lived in Florida, we had one take care of our cat and it worked out good. Now, of course I have more animals, so we do not go anywhere for more than a few hours.
     
  5. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    As Ken points out, most people who do this do it on the fly with no insurance as a casual thing. We pay around $100/day for someone to come in to our place, and while that sounds "high," in fact, it should be more like twice that given the going rates in this area just to board the dogs. However, people boarding dogs need to be licensed, carry insurance, and are carrying infrastructure as well. So it sugars off to "fair."

    In our area there are at least 2 professional pet sitting services. One is run by someone who retired and wanted a second income, one by a younger woman. Unfortuntely, I don't trust either one of them. Trust, when establishing a business like this, is critical. And if you're running it as a business I expect to see forms, release documents, some kind of professional paperwork which indicates that you've thought this out and thought out the nuances of sitting a farm. The older gentleman has a form which absolves him of any liability for anything and accepts responsibility for nothing... the younger woman would like cash, not a check, thanks.

    Doesn't inspire confidence.
     
  6. milkstoolcowboy

    milkstoolcowboy Farmer

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    Some people solve this problem by not going anywhere. Last time I got someone from outside to do my chores was 6 years ago, for two days. In addition to my hired man, I got a former hired man who used to milk with me to do the milking. He came out for 3 days before we left and got the run-down on everything, and he was familiar with the farm, the milking parlor and silo unloaders, feed mills, because he'd worked for me for 7 years. If I had to go somewhere and be gone for several days, the only people I'd trust to run the farm would be my boys. They'd take off work.

    There's a million ways a 'sitter' could screw things up badly on a farm. I'm not talking about feeding a couple dogs and horses, but real working farms where you're milking cows or farrowing sows.

    I wouldn't be worried about his liability, but mine. Sitter gets arm caught in belt feeder, tips over a tractor feeding bales, etc. Many farms carry $2m - $3m in liability insurance.
     
  7. ellebeaux

    ellebeaux Well-Known Member

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    Actually, I'm getting ready to start dong this for a few months while I do a teacher training program.

    I have a couple clients now and some local vet friends are giving referrals to me.

    I'm not sure how it's going to go. Right now, my clients are both 40 miles away from my new home. I don't know if it's worth it to drive an hour each way, feed for one hour and come back. The one lady has 10 horses and a couple of dogs so I feed and water twice a day and clean the barn once a day. Maybe two hours of work total plus the 4 hours of driving. So I charge $25/feed. That's $50/day for 2 hours of work plus the driving and the gas. But it's under the table at this time. I'm trying to figure out if it will be cost effective to do full-time.

    My selling point (I think!) is I have an M.S. in Veterinary Sciences and used to be a zookeeper so I'm going to somehow phrase my signs that I can give medications and also take care of exotic animals. I tried posting this once in the Caretaker's Gazette. The only people that replied were a very nice family in South Dakota, who basically wanted me to come out there and work for free. I think they were lonely more than anything else!

    Any thoughts?

    Beaux
     
  8. CurtinMN

    CurtinMN Member

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    Please note that the correct address for The Caretaker Gazette is:
    The Caretaker Gazette, PO Box 4005, Bergheim, TX 78004 and you can see more about The Caretaker Gazette at www.caretaker.org

    While the following are oriented towards house sitting in suburbia or long-term caretaking, many of the same principles would apply:

    • The Caretaker Gazette, 1845 Deane, Pullman, WA 99163-3504. Periodical which covers long-term caretaking.
     
  9. elgordo

    elgordo Well-Known Member

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    Frankly we don't leave very often and when we do it's only for one or two days. If it's just overnight a neighbor will bring the cat in at night feed him etc. My sheep and goat are pretty much self sufficient, being on pasture. They are left with adequate water. My garden's on a timer/drip system, so it's easy to ask someone to turn a dial!
    Last Christmas though we need to be gone a few days; I finally found a young teen to farmsit. He ended up making a good profit on it since I was starting to get desperate!
    I can find a large source of sitters at my church.
     
  10. RedFernFarm

    RedFernFarm Member

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    Thanks everyone for your feedback... very helpful!
     
  11. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Thank you for the addy correction for The Caretake Gazette. My book is now over 11 years old with lots of sources in it. Since I give it away there is little incentive for me to try to keep them current. When they are brought to my attention, such as the above, I do update them.
     
  12. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

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    If you have a college near it will be a good source of students who are studying agriculture/veterinary subjects and these people can be very helpful and reliable house/stock sitters.

    I just got back from my first three day trip after losing my dh and I was really nervous about leaving. But the two college girls who stayed here and cared for the place did a great job and everything was fine when I returned.

    So, it may be worth a look at any colleges you have in your area for a source. ;)
    LQ
     
  13. ellebeaux

    ellebeaux Well-Known Member

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    OMG I know it!!!! ROFL The problem is I don't have any horses right now and I love them. I just got back from the barn. I drove almost 100 miles. At 25 mpg, that's 4 gallons of gas so approx. $11 in gas alone plus 3 hours of time.

    I just can't see charging people decent money to go throw some feed into a bucket and shovel dookie. And it doesn't sound like our little group, at least, would tolerate paying more than what I'm asking. I'm going to post on the equine board and see what they think.

    Now to bed and then back again tomorrow.