Farm Sitter Wanted - Grit (2024)

Intricate daily routines can make a vacation from farming almost impossible. Follow these tips to find a farm sitter to care for valuable livestock animals.

Every farmer wants to get away once in a while. But leaving tender garden crops, valuable livestock animals, and intricate daily routines can make a vacation from farming almost impossible. While some farmers, particularly vegetable and flower gardeners, are able to escape during the winter months, those with livestock or year-round growing seasons can’t simply leave the farm.

Finding a farm sitter is one way you can get some rest and relaxation away from the daily grind, and having a farm sitter in your contacts will also ensure your animals will be taken care of in an emergency.

How Do You Find a Farm Sitter?

Connecting with a good farm sitter can be difficult. While rural areas may have an abundance of people well-qualified to care for a farm, many of them will have their own responsibilities. There are a few methods for finding a good sitter, and it may take patience before you connect with the right match.

Find at least two or three possible sitters. This way, if anyone has a conflict during the time you’re gone, you’ll have another number as backup.

4-H and Other Clubs

Young people can be a fantastic option for farm-sitting jobs, as they might have more availability than adults, especially during the summer months, and farm sitting offers an excellent first-job opportunity. Let local agriculture clubs know you’re looking for a competent young person to help around the farm, and you’ll probably get some help through them. Start with 4-H clubs, any clubs associated with your particular livestock (dairy clubs, goat clubs, etc.), and any local agriculture education programs.

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The biggest challenge with hiring young people as farm sitters will be arranging for transportation and managing their availability during the school year. For larger farms and big livestock, young people may not have the experience or physical presence to be able to manage chores on their own.

Posters and Word of Mouth

Putting a “Help Wanted” poster up at your local country store or feed store can bring in some potential candidates. Not only will a poster be seen by qualified people when placed in the right location, but it could also spark conversation, and you may find a whole network of potential helpers. Advertising through your local stores can help ensure the people who respond are local and, therefore, more able to travel to your farm for the job.

Online Advertisem*nts

You can post a request for farm help on online forums, such as in Facebook Groups: Many areas will have local agriculture Groups, and some states may even have a “farm sitters” Group. Depending on the forum, you may attract people from a wider geographical area, which can be a benefit but can also present difficulties in scheduling and transportation.

Apps, such as Rover, may also connect you with qualified individuals. Rover is usually targeted to dogs and other house pets, but you could find farm sitters there. Similarly, House Sitters America ( has an online farm-sitter network that includes reviews from farmers who have used the sitter before.

Friends and Family

Finally, don’t forget your network of friends and family. Neighbors, cousins, siblings, and more can help take care of the farm, and a close relationship will help ensure your farm sitter understands the responsibilities at your property. When enrolling a family member as a farm sitter, remember there may be times you’ll want to take a family vacation and include them – meaning you’ll have to find a new sitter for such a trip.

The best way to find a farm sitter is with a ringing endorsem*nt from another farmer. If your neighbor has a farm sitter they love, give that person a call. And regardless of where you find your farm sitter, ask them for references and check with friends who may know them about their qualifications and personality.

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What Qualifications Does a Farm Sitter Need?

A farm sitter must be comfortable with the kind of work you do on your farm. That is, if you keep cows, they have to be comfortable and confident around cattle, and the same is true of any other livestock you keep. You must be able to trust that they’re capable of making an informed decision without your input in an unexpected situation.

This doesn’t mean a farm sitter must be a fellow farmer. They just have to be comfortable around animals and have some experience with them. Often, the best farm sitters are people hoping to farm someday, or people who are unable to keep their own animals for some reason. Don’t hire a farm sitter who has never milked a cow to run daily dairy operations, but do consider someone who has worked at a dairy but is currently living without any animals.Farm Sitter Wanted - Grit (3)

You’ll also need to make sure a farm sitter has transportation to and from your farm, and above all that they’re reliable and communicative. Reliability and trust are hard to test for, but you can establish these things in your first interviews and in their communications about the job. Ask for references – even if a potential farm sitter doesn’t have farm-related references, still ask for character references.

Give Your Farm Sitter Every Advantage

You put a lot of work into finding a farm sitter, but the job isn’t done! Ensuring a successful trip away means giving your farm sitter every advantage in being able to take care of your farm to your standards.

Always do an interview – preferably, do a couple – before leaving your farm in someone else’s hands. Invite your potential sitter over for chores and to meet your animals, follow along with your routine, and spend some time with you so you can get to know one another. If you’re allowing a farm sitter to stay in your home, it’s especially important to establish a relationship where you feel comfortable with them.

Leave clear instructions both digitally and in writing. Break down instructions into sections so they can quickly flip to a headline in an emergency instead of rummaging through dense paragraphs. Similarly, clearly label grain barrels and feed scoops and any other regular-use items, and make sure your farm sitter knows where the first-aid kit is and has your vet’s phone number.

If your farm sitter has the time, encourage them to join you for chores the week prior to leaving. This will help your animals get used to their presence and help your sitter memorize the routine. I consider this to be in addition to the interview process: Interview your farm sitter to get to know them, and then have them join you on chores.

Another good option to ensure competence is to plan a full test run. Schedule a weekend at a friend’s house, or just have the farm sitter do chores while you stay home. Don’t travel more than an hour away, and don’t be gone for more than two days; it’s just a run-through to ensure everything goes smoothly in your farm sitter’s hands.

Farm Sitter Rates

To ensure an attentive sitter who wants to return, always pay them well. This rate may vary depending on your area and demand for sitters. In fact, it can range from $50 per day to more than $200 per day. Check with other farmers about the rates they’ve paid. Rates will be higher for a farmer having to stay at your farm 24/7 versus one visiting for chores, and they’ll also vary depending on the miles they have to drive and the number of animals they’ll be caring for.

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Finally, before you commit to a trip, make sure your farm is insured. Having a farm sitter caring for your farm opens you up to various risks, including them stealing from your property or getting injured by one of your animals. Have full farm liability insurance and consider employer’s liability insurance coverage as well.

Having a farm sitter will give you peace of mind in situations when you’re called away from the farm, as well as the flexibility to take the occasional vacation. The more you can trust and build a relationship with your sitter, the better. With a little bit of careful research in your hiring process and investing time in training, a farm sitter can provide you with the assurance that your farm will be fine wherever you may be.

Kirsten Lie-Nielsen is a freelance writer focused on climate change, sustainability, and modern agriculture. She’s the author of two books on homesteading. Based in Maine, she and her partner recently restored a 200-year-old farm and now spend their time traveling and seeking out great stories and good food.

Originally published as “Finding a Farm Sitter” in the July/August 2024 issue of Grit magazine and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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Farm Sitter Wanted - Grit (2024)


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