Sitters for farms hard to come by
(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.
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.