Sit­ters for farms hard to come by

The Star Democrat - - REAL ESTATE -

(TNS) — It’s hard enough to find some­one to feed the dog while you’re on va­ca­tion.

But what if you have 100 cows or a slew of goats, chick­ens and pigs?

That’s where farm sit­ting, or do­ing a farmer’s daily chores, comes into play — and it’s not easy to find qual­i­fied, re­li­able help these days.

Not easy?

It’s nearly im­pos­si­ble, said Mike Hel­len­brand who owns City Slick­ers farm near Cross Plains, a small vil­lage west of Madi­son.

He and his wife, Linda, raise sev­eral hun­dred dairy calves, with some of them sell­ing for thou­sands of dol­lars be­cause of their prized ge­net­ics.

With their live­stock and liveli­hood at stake, the Hel­len­brands would de­mand a high level of trust in some­one be­fore let­ting them run the farm for even a few days.

“If you do find some­body it’s for a day or a night,” Mike said.

He and Linda take sep­a­rate trips from the farm so that one of them is al­ways home. That’s quite a change from their ear­lier lives when they lived in New York, on the 17th floor of a Man­hat­tan high-rise, and were mar­ried in Cen­tral Park.

Now they’re liv­ing their dream of be­ing farm­ers, even with a few draw­backs.

“It’s im­pos­si­ble for us to get away to­gether,” Mike said.

That sounds fa­mil­iar to Dee Dee and Jeff Gol­berg who run Spirit Horse Equine Res­cue near the Wis­con­sinIlli­nois bor­der.

Their farm has 30 horses in­clud­ing some that need ex­tra at­ten­tion be­cause they’ve come from wild horse roundups or abu­sive back­grounds.

Even with vol­un­teers step­ping in to help with chores, Dee Dee said, she and Jeff hardly ever leave the farm for more than a few hours at a time.

Once they left for three nights, only to re­turn and find their live-in farm sit­ters ready to bolt.

The sit­ters, ex­pect­ing that a few days on the farm would be a mini va­ca­tion, were ex­hausted from work­ing morn­ing to night.

“Ear­lier they had helped with chores. But they’d never done the full en­chi­lada,” Dee Dee said.

FARM

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