RangerSir and I have returned from vacation and now I feel like I can blog here out in the world of everyone knowing because it is all in the past. I think the hardest part of planning a vacation was making arrangements for our livestock. It was much harder than I had imagined, as I had remembered as a young adult, I loved getting away from roommates. Getting paid was a bonus because it was like having a part-time job that didn’t cramp my lifestyle. We finally make a connection for a house/pet sitter before we left. It worked out well but oh the journey was an adventure.
Cora is an easy pet to care for. She sleeps and wants just a little bit of attention.
We started by putting out the word to friends and family that we were looking for a house/pet sitter. We have a small college in town and I was sure that someone would know of a person who was interested in the job. We got no bites. We were unsure if it was because we lived out-of-town or it was our menagerie but no one wanted the job. We were offering to pay the sitter what kenneling would cost.
After a couple of weeks, we got worried and started to make kennel arrangements for the cat and dog. We watched our neighbor’s horses and barn cats, so we knew that they would open the door for the chickens in the morning and close them up at night. It was a workable solution, but it wasn’t the best solution because we did not want our house empty for ten days.
Zip is a people dog and after a day alone needs some serious play time. He also is a true terrier and can’t be trusted off leash, so walks require a human. All that said he is still a loveable character.
We started to tap into websites offering house/pet sitters, talking to folks, trying to figure out our liabilities, and what could go wrong if we were two days away from rescue. There were so many pros, cons, and unknowns. You asked everyone you knew if they knew this person on the net wanting to sit for you.
Finally, we made a connection with a young woman who would be in her last two weeks of high school the time we needed her. Lots of people vouched for her maturity and reliability. It was unnerving after all she was in high school. I met her mother and knew her step-father and grandmother. They were all comfortable with this and supportive of her doing this. She had an afterschool job but would be home the same hours as we were when working. We met with her and talked with her and in the end, she would be our house sitter. RangerSir reminded me in a couple of weeks she could call herself a college freshman, so if she had such good references we should go with it.
In the midst of all of this one late afternoon, three of our chickens flew over the fence in their run attached to their coop. They came to their favorite dust bath location by the back door at the edge of the foundation of the house and they were prone to do. Unfortunately, Mr. Fox came right up to our back door and got our girls. It was unnerving and devastating because this happened just a few feet from our back door that we use as our main entry. RangerSir and I had decided just this year that we were not going to do baby chicks and the hens we had were likely our last hens. In retirement we would be in town and chickens would not be part of our lives. When we were gone so were these hens. It seemed that fate was telling us that our train was moving much faster than we had thought it was. We had one chicken left after this unfortunate incident and we called a girlfriend with a flock to see if she would take our last hen. She took the hen with all the food and supplies we had for our backyard flock. Housesitting at our place just got easier for our young housesitter.
All that was left of our chickens was a pile of feathers outside the back door.
The first night we were gone and out of cell phone connection most of the day and early evening. We got back into service at 8pm Montana time to have a message from our housesitter who came home to find that we had no electricity (no water/well either). When we finally connected up that night she just wanted to know if there was something special she needed to do as she had tried the breakers and no luck; the power company in town couldn’t help her. I placed calls to her and made sure she knew where the oil lamps and flashlights were (things we had not covered in the walk through before we had left). We are the next to last house on an electric run connected to a local electric co-op. We placed calls to the co-op linemen in charge of our area and electricity came back on at 9pm her time. She was so calm and collected and told us no worries, she was ok and it would be ok. It was an immediate demonstration to us that we had left our house and critters in good hands and that this young woman may be in high school, but she was ready for heading out into the next step of life and working her way through the what life was going to throw at her.
When we got home our dogs and cats were happy to see us, but a little put out with us as well. Life had been good for them while we were gone. The house was clean, the sheets and towels were pulled and washed, though we had not asked her to do so. We could not tell that she had been there. The neighbors were impressed with what they had observed she was home with our pets as we had wanted and no crazy visitors. I’d love to have her again, but she is ready for the world. She and friend will be visiting NYC before she heads off to Seattle for school. So as great as this was, if we go on holiday we will once again be looking for a house sitter.