Homesteader’s “How-To” Guide on Vacationing

Before Emerson and I settled down into this way of living our lives were drastically different. We used to travel around the Southeast states and play music wherever and whenever we would have performances. We had the freedom to drive from South Florida to Central Texas whenever we pleased.
 
When we closed on our homestead in January 2016 we thought our traveling and vacationing days were simply over; a life of the past.
Midday Chicken Treat

LET’S TALK FACTS

1. You should understand that there is a certain amount of sacrifice that you make when committing to the homesteading lifestyle.
2. You should understand that you either commit to this lifestyle or you don’t commit to this lifestyle. (Personal advice, definitely commit to the lifestyle!)
3. You should understand that your life outside of the homestead is not completely over.
 
 

BUT HOW DO YOU DO IT?

The first time we went out of town was pretty soon after we closed on the house. We had performances booked that we could not cancel and, at the time, we only had around 10 chickens and 4 ducks.
 
We got very lucky because it just so happened that the fella who watched the previous owners animals was the boyfriend of the woman’s mother and the mother lived (and still lives) directly behind us. We adopted him as our farm sitter and, luckily, he knew the ropes. Outside of eventually changing a few details on how we wanted to do things on the farm vs. how the previous owners did, he was great, did his job and was VERY cheap – $10/day.
 

ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO AN END

Eventually, we took on more and more animals. For example we now have 40 chickens, 11 ducks, and 5 rabbits. Over the last two years we’ve had more animals than that at times and fewer animals at times but eventually the fella teetered out, had a few arm surgeries, and it was just too much for him. Finding someone new to train was rather nerve-racking!
 
If you do what I do and are a full-time, stay-at-home homesteader you know what your animals like, don’t like, need, want, etc. I have my routine in the mornings and the evenings and like to do things the same way to keep my feathered and fibered friends on as close to a schedule as possible.
 
Finding someone to do exactly what I wanted them to, when I wanted them to, simply scared me.
 

HOW TO FIND A SITTER

I heard a really great podcast about this topic the other day on The Small Town Homestead‘s podcast, Modern Homesteading Podcast  and thought “What a great topic”. You don’t often see blog posts on how to take a vacation while having a full-time homestead. There are a few platforms you can use and we’ll get to those soon but the best idea is to first approach your family and/or friends.
 
Harold Thornbro covered this topic in his episodeQ & A Episode: Mistakes, Regrets, Farm Sitters, Soil Tests and More“.

FAMILY

As mentioned earlier, our animals are like our children. I don’t yet have children but I know that when I do I’ll be finding the very best care for them if I ever need to leave them with someone. My first pick will always be my mother-in-law. Luckily, she is who now watches the animals when we’re gone, too.
 
Your family cares about you and probably, hopefully, cares about your homesteading endeavors – cultivating a healthier lifestyle for yourself is something to be proud about!

Confront them. See if they would be willing to come over and let them show you what you do everyday. They will always be the best candidates if they’re willing to learn. And hey, you never know, they might run off and buy a homestead of their own after it’s all said and done! Of course, that would mean you might have to find another family member.

NEIGHBORS

As Harold said, if you’re homesteading, the chances are that you also live around many people who are also homesteading.

Almost all of my neighbors have some kind of farm animal – chickens, goats, cows, etc. Although I haven’t had to approach my neighbors, and some people would feel very uncomfortable doing so, this is a truly wonderful option.

Your neighbors will know if something is wrong and might even know what to do if they have animals of their own. Think of the stress you’ll throw out the window knowing that your animals are being taken care of by someone who is educated on the type of animal they are! And the cherry on top? They live next door so they’ll be on time!

SITTER PLATFORMS I KNOW OF

***NOTE: I am not compensated in any way by promoting these outlets.***

  • Care.com
    • I’ve used care.com before as a house sitter and a baby sitter. When we moved onto the homestead I did go onto care.com to try to find a sitter just encase we ever needed a backup. I highly suggest this platform from my past experiences. I’m confident that I was a great hire so I know there are other great hires there, too.
  • Rover.com
    • This was another platform that I almost used. I actually talked to a few sitters through Rover.com and they were all so great. I was planning a last-minute trip and we had just adopted our second dog, Hank. I was worried about leaving the dogs home alone because of their anxiety and, at the time, I was between sitters as my mother-in-law hadn’t yet moved down. I got lucky and our first sitter, the neighbors boyfriend, ended up watching our animals. But I will say that if I ever had to find a sitter again and family, the, neighbors, and care.com didn’t follow through, I would definitely use Rover.com
  • Sittercity.com
    • Sittercity.com is another one that I have worked through once or twice. People seem to be very vetted and honest.

PAYMENT

When thinking about payment, go back to the mindset of finding a baby sitter for the children you do or don’t have. Would you pay someone $5.00 to watch your children? No. We paid our neighbors boyfriend $10 a day in the beginning but that eventually increased to $15. The only other fella we ever hired was a friend and coworker of Emerson’s and we paid him $20-$25 a day AND he stayed overnight in our home, so there was no back and forth. 

If someone you know, and trust, will do it for cheap or free then I would say TAKE IT! If someone you DON’T know will do it for cheap…I won’t say decline but I will advise you to sit down with them and take the time to find out why they are willing to do it for cheap. Why bother you may ask? Because someone who is good at what they do, and someone who isn’t your mama, is probably going to charge more money who isn’t.

I’m not saying you can’t find a deal; a neighbor’s kid might just do it for $5-$10 a day. I’m just saying be thorough, know who you’re hiring, and make sure they care.

OTHER SITTERS OUTLETS

There are other outlets out there that I haven’t used but will post below. I highly recommend checking out the podcast I mentioned earlier – he puts out some great information and advice and, while you’re at it, check out their Facebook pageThe Homestead Front Porch(it’s run by Harold Thornbro).

Happy homesteading!

Petsitter.com
Petsit.com
Petsitters.org

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