May 23 – October 12, 2014.
It’s moving day. I get up and feed the dogs and take them on their morning walk. Greg feeds the chickens and lets them range a bit in the yard. We wash our clothes along with the sheets and towels we have used the past week. I remake the bed, trying to recall just exactly how the shams and pillows were arranged when we got here. Towels are folded up and put away, floors are swept, the bathroom sink and toilet are scrubbed out, the counters in the kitchen are wiped, and the range top is cleaned. We carefully fold our laundry and pack our clothes in one of our many traveling bags. Computer devices, toiletries, cooking implements and dry food all go back into their respective tote bags and backpacks. Lastly I unload the refrigerator of all of our leftovers and fresh food we didn’t finish this last week. Everything gets piled into the back seat of the car along with Greg’s guitar, our extra camping gear, extra bedding, and tools. The house looks good, almost as if we were never there, except that there are a few improvements, a newly oiled butcher-block counter top, freshly painted soffits, and new trim around the arbor posts on the back deck. The dogs are happy, the chickens are happy. We lock the door, get into the car and pull out into the street. Exactly two doors down we turn into a driveway and unload everything at our next house-sitting gig.
It is a big two-story house with no pets. The owner, who is vacationing in the Canadian Rockies, just moved in and there is stuff piled in the middle of all of the main rooms. This is not a problem, actually, it is sort of a plus since we will be spending the next four days here working, painting the living room, kitchen, dining room and den. After this we move a street over into a tiny condo, a forth, fifth or maybe a sixth of the size of our current digs, where we will spend a week with two very sweet kitties, Pip and Luke.
The whole summer and early fall goes on like that, moving from house to house, from street to street. We do almost all of our house sitting in Cabbagetown, a roughly 6 by 3 square block neighborhood in the city of Atlanta. We keep a calendar of where we are supposed to be each day. I have check-lists of what food each pet eats, when they get their walks, if they take medicine, codes to everyone’s wifi, instructions on which remote turns on the TV, the cable or the Roku. Greg has lists of odd jobs to be done while the homeowners are away.
It was a busy season for us this year. We spent 101 days house sitting between May 23 and October 12. We moved 20 times into 16 different homes and slept in 16 different beds (some were repeats). We took care of 13 dogs, 15 cats, and 4 chickens.
It is a hectic existence, but it works. We get to hang out with friends, get to be a part of a community we love, and have the benefit of a network that provides us with a steady stream of work needed to help fund our adventure. Our friends and neighbors get to have someone they know and trust look after their pets, water their plants, get their mail in, and watch over their house and belongings while they vacation. It’s a trade that benefits everyone. I like to think that each time we stay in someone’s house, they are not only giving us a place to live for a week or two, but contributing to (and in doing so becoming a part of) our dream.