This is the third blog in my series “A Day in the Life of a House Sitter”. The first one described an average day during our two-week house sit in The Villages, FL last December and the second one reported on our days in Kent, CT for three winter months.
Every house sitting assignment is different and the tasks, requests and expectations depend on the house, the property, the owners and the pets. Some home owners require you to do some yard maintenance, water the house plants or collect the mail; all of them, naturally, expect you to keep the house tidy and “return” it as clean as you found it or better. Usually there is at least one pet to take care of, which means setting food out once or twice a day, making sure the water bowl is always filled with clean water, taking the dog(s) out for daily walks, and sometimes administering medicines or brushing the animal. Although not every pet owner expects it, Mark and I have the tendency to shower dogs with love, attention and company. It goes without saying that a responsible house sitter is prepared to take the pets to the vet or emergency room when necessary and reports general issues back to the owners, while trying to fix or solve problematic situations. And yes, sh*t happens.
House sitters can mostly stick to their own schedule when taking care of somebody’s home, as long as the animals are happy. The pets – only one dog here in Heath – are our priority. Of course, we also watch the house, run a few errands and communicate with the owners about anything that comes up or needs attention. Most of the time, we live our own lives in our borrowed home and enjoy the company of our borrowed pets.
Here is our Heath “schedule” for a period of 4.5 months:
7am: Mark gets up, showers, has breakfast, catches up on the news and gets to work. Our bedroom does not have curtains, so we usually wake up at a decent time.
7:30am: I get up, check my inbox and Facebook on my iPad, shower, have breakfast and do some household chores.
8:30am: We wake dog Jenny up – she sleeps under our bed – and encourage her to come downstairs. She is 12 years old and likes to sleep in! In most situations I know of, it is usually the dog who wakes the owners up… We wait to be greeted – with kisses if we are lucky – at the stairwell and take her out for her morning walk.
On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we climb the hill behind the house. The trail winds through a mixed forest of maple trees and pines and is a nice 20-minute workout. If we feel lazy, we stretch our legs on the long driveway to the gravel road instead.
The other days of the week, we walk Jenny to the farm stand on the main road through another patch of forest, crossing a cute little brook on the property. The owners of the house have a maple farm, called Berkshire Sweet Gold, that they run from September – April, while they live here in Heath, Massachusetts. We have agreed with them to stock and open their little farm stand on Route 8A over the weekends while they are away. Maple syrup is sold by the honor system, which works really well in this area. The proceeds go to the college funds of the three sons.
9am – 12:30pm: We work on our computers – Mark runs The Wirie business, develops software, improves firmware, tests and works on new developments, responds to phone calls and emails from customers and potential Wirie users, deals with ads, etc… I am working on my memoir, do writing exercises, read about non-fiction writing, write and post three Roaming About blogs a week, organize and edit photos, apply for translating and proofreading jobs, keep our social online life going, do some networking and blog hops, and hope to write articles again.
12:30pm – 1:30pm: Lunch break. We usually eat inside and drink our cups of tea outside on the yard platform with Jenny, when the weather is nice. Which has been often. It is so much cooler up here in the hills – about 10°F – than down in the valley or at the coast. Jenny loves being outside in the shade, sniffing the air. She likes the grass, but the front porch is her favorite place to hang out. We often leave her out there, if she isn’t taking a nap. Every other day, we water the vegetable garden and flowers.
1:30pm – 5:30pm: We work at our computers.
5:30pm: We take Jenny for her afternoon walk, along the driveway and up the gravel road, then to the mailbox at the intersection with route 8A. This takes about 20 minutes. Sometimes we take her on a longer jaunt in the neighborhood.
From Thursday – Sunday, we do our loop walk to the farm stand to close it and continue to the mailboxes to pick up the mail.
6pm: We feed Jenny, relax a bit and cook dinner for ourselves. Fridays and Saturdays usually with a glass of wine in our hands.
7pm: Dinner time and clean-up
7:30pm or 8pm: Mark and I watch something on Netflix or our hard drive, get engrossed in Facebook (but not too long), read, or just hang out. Jenny lays at our feet.
9:30pm: A last potty break for Jenny, who then finishes her food, drinks some water and heads upstairs with us to go to bed. She and Mark fall asleep immediately. I write my diary, lay awake for a bit and follow suit.
Throughout the days, we answer the phone and take messages left by maple syrup customers.
Every three weeks, we give Jenny a bath (she is not a fan) and take the garbage and recyclables to the collection center in Heath. We use the owners’ van, which has “the sticker” to do this. Once a week, I water the indoor plants.
Every ten days or so, Mark mows the grass and visits the attic to make sure everything is all right. A couple of times a week, we walk down to the sugar house (where they boil the sap of the maple trees and turn it into syrup) to check on things. We regularly send email updates to the owners and once a month or so, we start the engine of their second car.
During the weekends, we look for places to go hiking (or camping) with Jenny. These trails are usually located in State Parks, State Forests or along rivers – always in the shade and a pleasure to explore. The only times we can’t take “our” sweet doggie is on tubing adventures or at festivals. When we come home after those events, she is very happy to see us – lots of wagging and kisses – and then turns mad for a few hours. By morning, all is forgotten! 🙂
(We have permission from the owners to post information and photos of their property and business.)
Do you have certain routines every day? What would you like to change, if you could?