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House Sitting - A "Free" Vacation

Posted by CSmith923 on August 7, 2010 at 10:00 AM

We arrived yesterday for our week vacation in Nevada City, CA.  We weren't sure what to expect as we have never done this before.  But, if you want to get away for little to nothing, try house sitting.  It has been around for ages, and now there are websites that  assist in the process.  Another free way to vacation is to House Swap. We haven't tried that one yet.


We are in Nevada City, CA house sitting in the woods for a couple who took a trip to Seattle.  We are on a farm, staying in a log cabin and enjoying the peace and quiet.  Nevada City, is a funny little town full of history.  We are about 10 miles from the hustle and bustle of a larger city called Grass Valley.  What's neat about this area, is that we are completely immersed in the woods, but as soon as you turn left onto Highway 20, and go about 10 miles the entire landcape changes.  Wow, what a difference!  We aren't very far from Sacramento so it starts to look like Sacramento landscaping the further you get away from Nevada City.  If you have ever been there or driven from Nevada to Sacramento you will know what I am talking about.  The grocery store is in Grass Valley, 10 miles away. 


Bill and I arose early this morning after the cat Angel's meow.  Armed with the list of instructions, we set out to do the morning chores in exchange for our free vacation.  Angel is the family cat who is an inside/outside cat who prefers the outside more than in.   We let her out at 0600 (6 a.m.), let Brisco and Greta, the family dogs out of their kennel, and made our way down to the Chicken coop.  There are 10 chickens and 1 rooster. 


The family is split on their views about a dog's place in the home.  The wife thinks like we do, that dogs are a part of the family and belong in the home. The man of the house believes that dogs have their purpose and belong outside for the greater part of the day.  They are allowed in but mainly stay outside and sleep outside.  They even have an insulated, heated dog house in the winter.  I guess he really does care about them.  They are good for protection and warning.  If they bark it's only deer roaming around trying to see if they can get into the vegetable garden.  Which we have access to, and can eat what we pick.  How about that?  But if they growl, something bigger more dangerous is lurking.  There is a large board and a tin metal sheet which we bang to scare the bears away. It might work for the big cats too, but whatever, I am not taking any chances.


Our morning chores consisted of feeding Angel 1/6 canned food, handful of dry food and some hairball medicine called "Hairball".  This keeps her from throwing up--- you guessed it -- hairballs.  Greta and Brisco were acting like two kids in a classroom with a subsitute teacher...

... They are only supposed to eat once a day, but they are giving Bill their sad hungry treatment and he was falling for it big time.  I said "Bill read the instructions, once a day in the evening before we put them to bed for the night"... He is such a softy...They were taking full advantage, and they almost got a way with it except Moms know that look when their own kids try and play that card to get out of the normal rules.


The chickens, two different  breeds, sexlinks and one other kind. (I'll get back to you on that  one) are in a large pen across the yard in side of the larger fenced in area.  They are the dirtest animals.  I guess that's where the south gets the term "Dirty Bird".  They poop like no one's business but  they do lay some great eggs, green and brown.  Yes, all those stories about Green Eggs is true.  They literally come out green.  Imagine that.  So, for breakfast,what do you think would be fun? We feed the chickens scratch (composed of corn and other grains) and grains in the morning.  The scratch gets thrown into the pen. The grain goes inside the chicken coop in their feeder for them to eat throughout the day.  And they are also the family garbage disposal.  Any veggie scraps that we don't eat, they do.  We give them their water  and we're done until evening.


It's not a lot of chores, but we earn our keep each day, and stay 'rent free" in a beautiful cabin in the woods.


Oh by the way, this is the real woods with big kitties and bears if you know what I mean.  So we have to take extra precautions, any food scraps that the chickens can't eat we put in a container and into the freezer to hide the smell.  On trash day (every friday morning at 0600, we take the trash out to the road.


The rest of the day is ours to enjoy.  We are heading to the Nevada County fair. 


So far, so good.  The girls (Agee and Alyssa) are putting all their 4H to practice. They have access to toys and bikes for their pleasure. We don't have cell service, but we do have Direct TV and Internet.


To top it off,  our wonderful vacation in the woods comes with benefits - a $500 tip for our time.


If you are interested in house sitting assisgnments here are three websites that we use: (This is not for the weak at heart. Most of these are work.  But in places worldwide. So if you want to travel and don't mind work, go for it).


Try it and let me know how it works for you.





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