Smitten with Chickens ~

Yep.  After a week on the farm, I am officially smitten with chickens.

chicken4

Especially the five ladies I’ve taken under my wing (so to speak) for this house sitting adventure.  I had no idea what beautiful, smart and delightfully entertaining creatures chickens are.  They are feathered comediennes and you can’t help but smile when you interact with them.

I’ve been getting to know “the girls” for several days now.  Each has a unique personality. They are very social and quite talkative.  I am totally gaga over these feathered beauties.  Last night I sat in the grass and tried my hand (with moderate success) at chicken portraiture.  chickens in the vineyard

Every evening I let them out of the chicken pen to wander freely around the lawn and into the edge of the vineyard.  They are lined up and waiting by 5:00 p.m. calling me to hop to it and open the damn gate already.  They make a break and their first stop is usually a nice dirt bath.

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Around dusk I head out to wrangle everyone back into the coop for the night.  My secret weapon is a big bag of Happy Hen Treats aka dried mealworms.  A few hardy shakes of the bag and the girls come running.  They are a sight to behold! DSCN3883 chickens2 chickenbutts2 Spending time with these feathered lovelies has been one of the highlights of this house sit. You never know what adventures life has in store. I am so glad I said yes to this opportunity.

Cheers from the vineyard,

Nancy

 

 

 

House Sitting in The Country ~

I am currently enjoying the best house sitting assignment ever – on a vineyard overlooking a beautiful valley right in the heart of Oregon wine (and farm) country.  On a clear day, you truly can see forever.

For ten days of chicken wrangling, bird feeding, garden watering and loving-up a grey-haired-handsome-boy-kitty named Winston, I am living la pura vida in the hills of Dundee.  I am also learning the ins and outs of rural living.  And, in case you were wondering, life is pretty good out here in the country.  And just a little bit different than this city gal is used to. Not a Starbucks in sight, but the wine is top notch!

The only downside so far?  The Green Acres theme song keeps playing in my head.

And now you are humming it too.  You’re welcome!

I don’t know if the country life is the life for me, but I am savoring every moment of my country adventure.  Here are a few snaps I took the other day.

You know you are in the country when…

Fashion takes on a whole new meaning.

Fashion takes on a whole new meaning.

Maybe they make shoes to go with the outfit?

Maybe they make shoes to go with the outfit?

Making hay while the sun shines.  You've gotta be quick in Oregon

Making hay while the sun shines. You’ve gotta be quick in Oregon

 

So, a gnome wanders into a vineyard...

So, a gnome wanders into a vineyard…

Never seen this in the city.

Never seen this in the city.

farmcountry5

Call now before the sign is covered in weeds.

Yes indeed!

Yes indeed!

And my personal favorite ~

Farmer humor

Farmer humor

Stay tuned for more adventures.

Cheers!

5 Tips for Becoming Successful House Sitters

Perhaps you’ve noticed…

I’ve become more than a wee bit obsessed with the idea of becoming traveling house sitters.  I saw this one yesterday.

4 year dog, Marzipan and 30’s era house need sitting Jan 24 to Feb 3

We are retired couple who like travel but our sweet 26 pound Corgi, Marzi, would rather stay home. She is well trained and very friendly.  Marzi needs walk in the park facing house housesit2 every day. Longer walks are appreciated every few days. Keep the house secure when you are gone. Water a few house plants. Keep the fur off the rugs with a Roomba.

House has high-speed wireless. We are walking distance to DC metro and surrounded by premier shopping, restaurants and services. Our house sits in civil war era neighborhood,very safe,facing community park and 45 mile paved trail for walking and bicycling. Ideal site for outdoor types, you can drive to countryside in 30 minutes to mountain trails and rivers. Ideal for city types, 15 minutes on metro to theaters, free museums like Smithsonian and city festivals, ethnic neighborhoods.

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At this point, hubs is quietly humoring me, but experience says he’ll climb enthusiastically on board, once I’ve done the homework and put a plan in place.   I’m working on it.  Here’s the plan so far.

How to Become a Successful House Sitter in 5 Easy (or not) Steps ~

1.  Do Your Research.  –   Hang out on the online sites like Trusted Housesitters, HouseCarers and Caretaker Gazette.  Read the House Sitter blogs.   A fellow-essayist in Mark Chimsky’s book 65 Things To Do When You Retire: Travel, is a house-sitting expert.  Teresa Roberts wrote a very informative book, Finding the Gypsy in Me – Tales of an International House Sitter.  I’ve read it twice and learned a great deal.

2.  Set Your Parameters. –  What are your must haves for a great house sitting destination?   France, England, Portugal, Italy, Ecuador, Argentina, Spain and Uruguay are at the top of my list.  I would be interested in both big cities and rural small towns as long as there is something fun, unique and interesting going on.  When we travel, hubs and I are looking for cultural events and activities, friendly people, good food, history and places to take great log walks.  Conveniently located to public transportation and airport/train station is a plus.  Weather?  Well, if life were perfect, I would always find house sits in warm destinations with brilliant blue skies and temps in the high 70’s, but I’ll flex on that one.

3.  Know Your Limitations. –  Everyone is different in their skills, experience and willingness to get their hands dirty.  Maybe a horse or two would be your dream, but you are allergic to cats.  Are you handy or do you need a written diagram to work the lights?  Hubs and I fall somewhere in the middle.  We’d be comfortable with cats and a dog or two.  Yes, even chickens.  Horses, cows, pigs, goats?  Not so much.  So the postings I’ve seen for “small holdings” probably aren’t for us.  And, trust me, nobody in this duo is going to be climbing on the roof or under the house if things go wrong.  We need homeowners who provide phone numbers and a who to call list.  Water the garden?  No problem!  Trim the trees or mow the back 40?  No way!

3.  Polish Your Profile. –  Once you have signed up with one (or more) of the house sitting sights, the first order of business is creating a killer profile.

Your online profile is your ticket to house sitting success.  There are lots of energetic, experienced 60-something retirees out there who want your perfect house sitting job too. Spend the time to create a profile that jumps off the screen, highlights your skills, experience, trustworthiness, and  Once again, it all comes down to marketing.  Check out the competition.  How are others selling themselves?  Check all the boxes – get the police clearance, provide lots of references, make the video, use your personal experience as a homeowner, successful business person, pet lover, parent and community activist.  They all count.   If you are serious, set up your own house sitting business website and link it to your profile.  That’s what Teresa did.  Check out her website housesit-pro for ideas.

4.  Be persistent.  Be Honest.  Be Flexible. –  Respond quickly.  It is a numbers game and it pays to be at the front of the line.  Sell yourself, your skills and why you are the best choice to walk Charley the Bulldog or Suzy the Smoodle.  People want to know (honestly) that you will love and care for their beloved pet almost as much as they do.  Anybody can bring in the mail.  And finally, be as flexible as possible.  You’ve always wanted to see Paris in the Springtime, but why not consider a two week house sit over Christmas?   The house sitting veterans will tell you that usually finding the first sit is the hardest, but hang in there.

What about you?  Does house sitting sound interesting?  Have you done any house sitting and have experiences to share?  Are you looking for a house sitter?  If so, I’d love to connect and share ideas.

See you on the road!  I just might be the one walking to two Great Danes with the big smile on my face.

Nancy

 

House Sitting ~ 5 reasons why it might just be the perfect retirement option

I know.  Technically speaking, house sitting is a job.  And if you are anything at all like my  husband – JOB is a four letter word.  He’s retired and he’s loving every minute of it.  Thank you very much.

No job.  No money.  No problem.

Yep, that’s his current philosophy.  And it’s been working out for him so far.  Of course, his other half is still bringing home the bacon, as they say.  And right now, his bacon is organic, peppered, and fresh from the farmers market.  But someday very soon all of that is going to change because this old girl is going to retire too, and then the cash flow is going to become a cash trickle.

And that’s why I see some kind of work in my retirement future.  And, truth be told, I’m really okay with that.  I’m not sure what I’d become if I didn’t have something going on to keep me busy most of the time.  Something that challenges both brain and body.  If I can get paid (in cash or in kind) for said work and if it’s interesting and on my terms.  Well, count me in.

That’s why house sitting makes perfect sense as a retirement option for traveling gypsy wannabe’s like hubs and I.

It would give us the ability to pack up our backpacks, grab our rollies, and travel the world – one house sitting job at a time.   And do it on a limited retirement budget.  And maybe we’d have enough money left over for some really good bacon every now and then.

I’ve been pondering this idea for a while now.  I  signed up on the Trusted Housesitter site as both “looking for a house sitter” and “looking for house sitting opportunities” back in August.  We were down to the wire on finding a sitter for our cat, Mr. Ricky.  I received several interesting offers, but found a wonderful sitter close to home.   Now, each morning I get the most enticing email from Andy Peck of Trusted HouseSitters with a list of the latest house sitting opportunities.  And yes, every morning I open this email and thoroughly read each house sitting offer – and I dream…

Here are a couple from this morning’s post ~

smoodle Pet sitter needed for my Schmoodle for three and a half weeks in Underwood, Australia

I am looking for a dog lover to mind Kobe my beautiful boy Schmoodle. I would prefer someone who loves dogs as he is my baby and someone that doesn’t have a problem with him sleeping on the end of the bed. He is a non-shedding dog.

All I ask is that you leave my house as you found it. Must love animals. My main priorty is for you to look after Kobe and throw his ball for him when he wants to play. Would prefer someone that does housesitting as their way of living.  I have a three bedroom house at Underwood close to shops and transport.

HouseSitFrance Pet sitter needed for lovely springer spaniel, fluffy cat and chickens in Fontaine-Chalendray, France

We are a family looking for someone to feed and walk Rollo once a day, and feed minky the cat. Both are really easy going. Rollo cannot be tired out and the walks are lovely here! He is patient though and will wait for his walk if you need a lie in or its raining! The chickens will also need feeding and watering, and of course you can collect and eat their lovely eggs.  wifi. lovely walks and bike rides direct from house, local swimming lake 10 mins. 1 hour to the sea. 40 minutes cognac.1 hr 20 La Rochelle. bikes and kayaks an be borrowed. huge woodland garden.

Sounds lovely doesn’t it?

So, if you are like us, and have been looking for ways to travel more in your retirement, and not break the bank to do it, you might want to look into house sitting.

I found this list on the Trusted HouseSitters website and I couldn’t agree more.

5 Reasons House Sitting Makes the Perfect Retirement

1.  You save money on accommodations.  The most obvious benefit of house sitting is the money you will same on hotel stays or holiday rentals.  For those on a fixed retirement income this can be a huge advantage.  

2.  Travel for longer –  As you no longer have to pay for somewhere to stay, you can spend more time exploring a new location and really get a feel for an area that you might have had to rush through otherwise.

3.  Discover new areas –  By being flexible with where you house sit, you can discover fantastic locations that you wouldn’t have though about visiting otherwise.

4.  Meet new people – Many house sitters say that they have made lifelong friends on their assignments as friends.  Walking the dog in a local park is a great way to meet people and make new friends.

5.  Live like a local –  House sitting allows you to really experience an area in a way that you might not when staying in a hotel.   Shopping in the corner market or the weekly farmer’s markets, using local transportation, meeting your neighbors at local gatherings.  All enrich your live like a local experience.

And, just in case you were wondering – I have chicken sitting experience from a home exchange we did last year.  Dog, cat, chickens, French countryside – I think I can handle that.

Let the house sitting adventures begin!

Nancy