THE TRAVELING SITTERS

THE TRAVELING SITTERS

Adventures While House Sitting

HOW WE BECAME PROFESSIONAL HOUSESITTERS

VISITING FAMILY IN ARIZONA BETWEEN HOUSE SITS

Over the years we have learned that a sense of humor, integrity, reliability, flexibility, a willingness to learn, common sense and an adventurous spirit goes a long way if you want to be a career house sitter.

In 1980 at the age of 19 I accepted my first house sitting offer.  I and only four other people inhabited a large remote valley in Eastern California.  The homesteaders at Morning Sun needed someone to look after their wild burro, chickens, wild mustang, vegetable garden and fruit orchards while they made a trip to the nearest town for a few days.

The valley was virtually uninhabited, remote and only accessible by an unmaintained bad gravel road with bottles of water for radiators and emergencies posted about every 10 miles.  The ‘home’ I had been asked to sit was not your average house. It was underground. The valley had zero development or amenities, no phone, no power etc…which is exactly why I was there in the first place.

These was extreme desert and while living there in 1980 I saw temps rise to 126 degrees F, daily encountered groups of wild burros, rattle snakes and sand storms. I enjoyed the waterfalls cascading down from the Inyo Mountains, the gorgeous views, hot springs, solitude, the stone house I lived in and the biggest sand dunes in California.

The folks at Morning Sun introduced me to the mechanics of the water system and other responsibilities I would need to fulfill and invited me to eat all the home grown fruits and veges I wanted.  I gladly took on the task.  I enjoyed the stay and cool temps of the underground house and caring for their place.

However, the house-sit was not all positive. During my last night a pack of coyotes came in and circled the chicken pen until all the chickens dropped dead of fright.  The relentless coyotes beat a five inch deep trench around the pen.  I was not familiar the guns in the house and felt helpless against the coyotes.  I dreaded the return of the owners. It turned out I worried for no reason as the folks were very kind and realized they should have trained me on the guns and left their dogs at the homestead with me instead of taking them to town. Little did I know that in just a few short years I’d be firing a shotgun to scare off a pack of wolves at yet another housesit!

My next housesitting adventure was in Wasilla, Alaska and included two sweet native children.  Having had no siblings it was a whole new experience. The sit went off without a hitch.

Next, I house-sat a remote homestead on the Yukon River in Alaska.  The family of four was rambunctious to say the least. The two children, dog team, horses, cow, goats, chickens and I don’t remember what else were my responsibilities for a week.  The home was an older log cabin with a wood cook stove and a wood heat stove. There was no plumbing (slop bucket and outhouse). A creek ran through the property where I did laundry.  The sit went off fine and I became the regular sitter for the family.  To this day we are close friends.

My next housesitting experience was very much the same as the previous one, family of four, two children, dog team, gardens, cabin without running water etc…except that this homestead was located near the Canadian border and accessible only by boat. On this job I actually got paid for my time and effort.  I received an antique Singer treadle sewing machine and eventually started my first Alaskan business with it. On this sit I had to scare off wolves in the middle of the night with a gun.  One wolf had come into the sled dog lot and grabbed a puppy by the neck. The rest of the wolves paced around the edge of the dog lot. I scared the wolves off by shooting the gun several times.  The puppy did end up with a wound, but was fine in the long run.  The family and I stay in touch and keep up on each other’s lives.

My next sitting experience was similar as well, three children, one dog but the large home had running water and was near a small remote Alaskan town.  I periodically sat for this family over the years and we are best of friends to this day. In fact, my husband and I now own that house.

In those early years I cared for multiple pets, dog teams, homes, gardens, potato patches, horses, children, anything I could and always enjoyed the new experiences.

In my early thirties I went to college and found my skills were in high demand. I rarely saw my dorm room since I filled house and pet sitting positions for the director of SEND International, Carol’s B&B, a number of missionary homes, and even a home with a hybrid wolf. Many of these people are friends to this day.

Upon returning to my home town I continued to housesit for friends and began to realize I could become a traveling house sitter.  By word of mouth I found a three month position in Fairbanks Alaska, and then in a remote high mountain town in Wyoming where I enjoyed caring for and riding two horses.

Upon returning to my home town my housesitting adventures slowed and became strictly local while working seasonal jobs for the federal government, the local museum and maintaining my home based business.  For many years I produced products for women using wild Alaskan botanicals, wove baskets out of local natural resources and made jewelry using fossilized ivory, gemstones, gold and silver.

In 2002 I was in my third consecutive year working for the Federal Government when I met David. He had come up to Alaska to do some gold prospecting after retiring from Pitney Bowes.  In 2003 we were married and housesitting became a way of life.  Since then we have traveled and housesat through many of the long Alaskan winters.  We return to Alaska May through September to take care of our home and operate my summer business.

In 2011 we decided we wanted to experience other countries and cultures and so landed a position in Guatemala where we are currently.  We took on a six month housesit, which we have since fulfilled and are currently enjoying two months of vacation time before returning to Alaska for the summer.

Backing up a bit, when I turned fifty I told my husband that from now on sandals were the required foot gear and that I could no longer live in cold or even chilly climates.  He is a native Floridian and heartily agreed.   We plan to continue sitting in a variety of global locations with plenty of warmth and sunshine. House and pet sitting provides us with endless opportunities at a fraction of the usual cost traveling costs, we make friends everywhere we go and learn a lot as we care for a variety of properties, animals and plants.

Over the years we have learned that a sense of humor, integrity, reliability, flexibility, a willingness to learn, common sense and an adventurous spirit goes a long way if you want to be a career house sitter.

 

 

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