Being a City gal and no longer a young one, I wanted to challenge myself.
I wanted to discover if I could farm sit a 100-acre horse property on my own and not feel overwhelmed and downright petrified by the magnitude of responsibility.
I wanted to dig deep and reveal my character in all the newness and forced isolation a farm sit might throw at me.
I wanted to disappear for a while, far away from my home in South West Victoria, to figure some stuff out.
To some degree, I knew this farm sit gig would drop me in way over my head. Take me quite literally down roads I’d never dreamed of travelling. The question hanging out there was — could I rise to the unknown challenges this farm sit might throw at me?
When I reached out to the farm owners via the House Sit platform Aussie House Sitters, I declared upfront I had absolutely no farm or horse experience. That didn’t seem to be a deal-breaker, probably because, by that time, I was a 5-star house sitter with excellent Reviews.
Could I hand-feed horses, kick start a high-tech computer-driven generator, be out there alone up on a ridge in the breath-taking Wollombi Valley, not a two-legged soul to talk to or fall back on for ten days?
Located in Laguna, just off the Great North Road in the New South Wales Hunter region, the property was off-grid. That is to say when the sun didn’t shine, I’d head into the garage to crank up the generator to keep energy feed in the ‘butter zone.’
To be honest, I was frightened the shed and farm would go up in smoke! But to my absolute relief (and surprise!), I managed just fine.
I kept my footprint small to the point I only had to start the genie up a handful of times.
Every morning, I’d jump out of bed, get a fire going, give the dog Rosie and cat Misty a feed, and then jump back into bed with a coffee to read a book or watch a video on my Surface Pro. The house was so frigid. Snuggling under the blankets offered the warmest place to be until the heat from the log fire made its way throughout the house.
There were no locks on the doors, so the owners didn’t bother to give me a set of keys!
The owners told me to pull the sliding glass doors closed when heading out. That was totally acceptable during the day but oh-so mind-boggling when darkness settled on the valley.
The nights were eerie, and the pitch darkness outside was more than a little disturbing.
Floodlights on the property’s perimeter adjoining the farm would light up when wildlife wandered into the yard. And every night, those outside lights were on — constantly! Kangaroos and a mangey wombat would wander close to the homestead scrounging for food.
The farm owners had a CCTV screen pointing at the front gate down the driveway. Come dark, I refused to look at it in case I saw something on the flickering screen that spooked me. That would have been my undoing, for sure!
When I’d settle into the bed of an evening listening to the eerie night chatter, I would glimpse a mass of stars peeking back at me through my bedroom window, lighting up the night sky. I felt exquisitely connected and content.
From the homestead to the main road, it was a five-kilometre trek and a further eight-kilometre along the Great Northern Highway to Laguna’s local Trading Post for supplies. Access was through private property, so there were a few gates to open and close to reach the main road.
There were days we experienced damaging winds that roared up the valley, toppling trees and temporarily cutting off exit routes. A local came along with a chainsaw and hacked the timber in half to clear the road.
Refusing to be cowered, I drummed up my nerve to venture out for a pub meal with the locals on Friday night. It frightened me driving at night down the country roads to the Trading Post. Thankfully, I got myself there and back safely, embracing the darkness that wrapped itself around me each time I jumped out of my car to navigate through gates.
I had six horses to care for — four Gypsy Cob that fed off the paddocks and just needed their water topped up. Bella and Coco, located in the lower pastures, would wait at the end of the driveway every day around 4.00 pm for me to wander down with a bag of hay. I loved that time of day!
I never found myself bored with the daily chores and animals to tend to — quite the opposite.
The predictable rhythm of the farm was soul-soothing.
Rosie — a rescue dog — had issues that limited her ability to be the brave little guard dog she might have been. She followed me everywhere and snuggled at my side by the fire, watching TV. Misty, the cat, was bent on escaping into the wild outside every time I slid open the backdoor! Both were such a delight to sit with and chill.
The whole point of hitting the road for 4-months in mid-2019 was to find the space needed to figure out what came next. To get enough distance away from a repeatedly unfaithful husband to see more clearly. To decide whether to continue sheltering in my compromised marriage or break free?
It did take me some years to pull together a vision of how I might leave behind my husband and my old life. Farm/house sitting was part of that plan.
And I did go. I put on my big girl pants and, at age 60, walked away.
As this farm sit proved, I’m gutsier and more impressive than I gave myself credit!
When given the scaffolding upon which to tease out a new life, I believe most women will bravely do so. Sometimes, all we can do is set our intention and courageously take a step forward, trusting in the process and letting go of the outcome. The path reveals itself. That has been my experience.
Fast forward three years, I now house and farm sit full-time.
House and farm sitting is a means to live cheaply while also enjoying the freedom and untold opportunities to travel interstate and internationally on a budget. To step into someone else’s home and lifestyle for a month or two, care for their pets, look after their home, adapt to their daily routines, get to know neighbours, and make new friends.
I especially love what this unique gypsy way of life calls me to be — every day!
If this information was helpful to you, perhaps you’d consider buying me a cup of coffee.
Love, light & laughter