Creative Caretakers Spiff Up Property

Today is the first day since I began my blogular sabbatical that Baboons have not offered a post to keep the conversation going.

And here we are in the second week of August.  More than two months without a gap.  Well done!

In case you were wondering, traffic on Trail Baboon has not suffered in my absence.  On the contrary, your self-selected topics have generated more conversation and higher numbers all around.

Below you can see Trail Baboon’s weekly statistics since early this year.  The rise on the right end of the screen represents your engagement with and response to Baboon-written posts.

Screenshot 2015-08-09 at 9.47.04 PM

A friend asked me last week how the blog sabbatical was going, and I explained it by noting that in South Africa, if you leave a window open, Baboons will come in and make themselves at home.

Real baboons also make a terrible mess.  But the evidence of the past eight weeks indicates that virtual baboons are much nicer, and will generally improve things when given the chance.

How are you at house-sitting ?  

64 thoughts on “Creative Caretakers Spiff Up Property”

  1. I am not great. the details that need to be looked after are the key. if it’s water the house plants once a week and bring in the mail I’m good but everyone seems to think the ritual they have in their lives needs to go on while they are gone. the last hose sitting I did was helping my then 12 year old feed and care for an apartment cat. there was an assortment of cat toys and the directions gave instructions on how each was to be played with and for how long.
    for two weeks as we speak my sons are watching my sister two cats and watering her garden while house sitting. spencer had first crack at it and he is good at looking after details but doesn’t like that the food choices are all wrong and the tv is not in the bedroom, that plus he was told at the last second that a call came from my brother who was coming for a hockey tournament and wanted to use thenspare room. my son made sure the cats were ok and turned the house over to my brother. next week the other son gets it and he is an airhead on details like those involved. he may remember the cats ok but the tomatoes will suffer . should be interesting
    I don’t do it because I tend to have life pop up along the way and if I have to plug in my stuff their stuff and today’s random stuff I need help.
    if someone needed help house sitting for a year maybe I could adapt enough to make that work but the timing and circumstances would need to be perfect.
    I thought I sent in those blog entries. they are on one of these devices. I’ll see where I put them.

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  2. I do a lot of house sitting for my best girlfriend. She has three cats, two who are elderly and have health issues. So when she and her husband travel, I am the caretaker. Paper, mail, water the straw bales, houseplant maintenance, snow shoveling and then there are the kitty meds. I guess I do OK – everybody has survived so far!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And I’m raising another generation of house sitters. Young Adult has housesit for a couple of my friends – dogs and cats involved in both of these – a requirement for Young Adult!

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  4. I’ve only been a house sitter once. It worked out well from my end.

    Somehow I missed the instructions for how to offer a bit of blogging to support Dale’s sabbatical. To whom do I send it? (There’s one that’s been percolating in my head for a few weeks.)

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    1. If you’re not already set up to add things to the blog (do you have a little pencil icon at top right corner?), then you can just email it to him. He can add you to the list, although he still is the one to push the “publish” button even when we put things onto the editing site.

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      1. ok, I have just sent a bio and photo to accompany it to Dale to get on the contributor list. This means I have to actually write something now, doesn’t it?

        Liked by 6 people

        1. Dale had me sign something online giving permission to contribute a blog. Months ago, I sent him a story and it never showed up here. I assumed that it was a bit too racy to be published (it was about my womanizing grandfather). When I eventually asked him about it, he said he’d never gotten it!

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        2. CB – I’ve had a couple of blog pieces go off the radar as well over the years. Probably all those thousands of fan emails that Dale gets every day clog up his email???

          Liked by 3 people

  5. We have housesat multiple times for a friend of my sister’s who lives in the Berkeley hills in the Bay Area – may get to do it again in late September. It’s the perfect house sitting gig – fabulous house (in one corner of the upper porch you can see the Golden Gate) – no pets, newspaper, or mail to deal with. Just down the block from my sister’s preschool so logistics are manageable. The couple each has a collection, penguins and sheep – that are very entertaining… first time we did this (Joel was 8) we sent around the house and counted to see who came out ahead. Great books on the shelves, nice people.

    To answer the question… we’re great house sitters when all you have to do is sit.

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  6. I am a much better housesitter than I am a housekeeper of my own house. We are currently off-site housesitting 2 alleged cats. I have seen them only the first day, but food disappears and litter boxes fill, so we assume this is all the work of the resident cats. Other than that, we pick up the mail and that is about it. Easy peasy.

    Our current foster started out as a shy kitty who would not willingly leave her carrier. If you didn’t buy into the hissy spitty thing and picked her up anyway, she just snuggled in and tried to not draw attention to herself.

    Took her in Friday for a checkup and it was decided she needed another week before auditioning for forever families.

    So much for “shy kitty”, she currently wants nothing more than to get out of that bathroom and rampage around the house. Very playful, which annoys the socks off the resident cats who have better things to do than have their tails used for toys.

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      1. You don’t know my Delinquents.

        But they will be happy to just walk into a room and flop down without having to worry some little ball of cuteness isn’t going to bound up wanting to play.

        They are both 2-year-olds and far too sophisticated for that stuff (hah!)

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  7. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    I am ok at real (as opposed to virtual/blog) house sitting, but I don’t just love it. The last time I did this for a weekend for our neighbors, their dog tipped over a gallon, A GALLON, of yellow paint and walked in it. The dog was mad they left. Then he tracked it all over the garage and the driveway and front walk when he got away from me. I had to call them and tell them this. They arrived home to little paw prints in the driveway.

    However, the gal that housesits for me? I adore her. She makes my life possible because she does a great job. I can travel and wander without worry.

    I used to housesit as a kid for money, as well as lawn mowing, baby sitting and cleaning. That was a chore I did not like but I had no choice. We got out there and WORKED for our college money.

    I am at a polymer clay class in Jordan this week which will provide the fodder for a blog post next week because I wanted to do a post on this anyway.

    Tally-ho. I am off to the class.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have decided to write my next post from the art class. Any one know where I can reach Bud Buck to do an audio voice over of the experience?

      Jacque, at the scene of the class reporting, ala Bud, signing off.

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  8. Well, considering during the many times I have been tasked to house sit there has never been a need to summon the National Guard, I’d say i’m a good house sitter.

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  9. Well, I have never pooed on the furniture, so that’s in my favor, I think. Nor have any creatures met their demise when they were under my temporary care. Did I mention I haven’t pooed on the furniture?…

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      1. At home, I only occasionally throw poo (and generally not on purpose – like say, when I slip whilst cleaning the guinea pig cages). Just trying to show how I overcome my baboon-like tendencies…the baboons in the video clearly poo on the furniture. Perhaps it is a South African baboon custom and not one followed by Minnesota baboons. 😉

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        1. I hadn’t viewed the video. Oh my! Can you imagine? I love how the guy is giving the baboons all kinds of orders as if they understood. It’s like speaking louder to someone who doesn’t understand English, as if that helps.

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  10. Good morning. Welcome back to your blog, Dale. I did house sitting at least once. It was okay. It is kind of a strange thing to live in another person’s home. It wasn’t any problem living in your home while you were gone, Dale.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. House sat, more checked on than sat, once 48 years ago. House was robbed on New Year’s Eve. Cops kept telling my friends it was me or they would never catch the crooks. Often check on houses here for snow birds.
    House wat

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  12. I have neither sitted or been sat for. My best friend in the Cities does a lot of pet care when friends are away. She said recently she stayed over at a house with two Staffordshire Terriers who love to cuddle and who expected to sleep with her. She didn’t get much sleep.

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  13. Morning–

    I do OK. But I have a hard time keeping our own plants alive so I hate being responsible for others plants.
    Neighbor has an orchid and the trick there is to put 3 ice cubes in the pot once / week. I can handle that.
    I’ve done animal chores for another neighbor and nothing died.
    Back before Kelly and I married she would house-sit; actually stay in the house type thing- for some doctors she worked with. They always had nice houses compared to her apartment.

    My Mom was just gone for a month. My sister and I split taking care of her plants. They all survived but there was a few days it was hot and we were a day late and some plants survived only because they’re hardy. Mom is none the wiser.

    Back when I was 17 my parents went to Europe for 3 weeks. We had a guy helping me out if I needed but I was doing all the milking and such. The first week a beef cow had a calf, then had complications and died. The second week a milk cow got out, crawled through a fence, cut a major blood vessel and bled to death. Honestly a ‘freak incident’ that I’d never seen before or since.
    The third week an old beef cow died.
    None of these were my fault. But I was still pretty upset over it. Mom and Dad assured me I did fine.

    That’s the thing about this blog; It helps me remember things that I have lost way back in the recesses of my mind.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As a kid who didn’t grow up on a farm, Ben, I can assure you I would have freaked out at the first death, and been a complete basket case by the time your parents returned. I’m glad that they were reassuring that it wasn’t your fault.

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  14. Early in my marriage we did a lot of house-sitting. The first time it was the Prospect Park home of a former mayor of Minneapolis. That was a big mistake, for we had to walk a very long way to our U of MN classes, and that was during one of the cruelest winters in MN history. The mayor was an OCD guy who apparently didn’t trust us totally. When we discovered he had locked his liquor cabinet we were offended and determined to get our revenge, so we explored the house for an hour and discovered a shoe box filled with airline booze bottles. We drank a few toasts to his uptightness. Quite a few.

    The second house-sitting experience was joyful. A good friend took her kids on a European vacation for the summer, so we stayed in her home on the banks of the Saint Croix River in Stillwater. We fell in love with that place. It had three ponds in the backyard, one of which was filled with trout. Night after night we’d return from the University and head out to fish the river until sundown forced us to return home. And then we’d do it again the next day. It is hard to remember having that much energy. We were invited to a potluck luau party held on an island of the river. Each couple was asked to bring a food dish. Ours was a creamy, piquant soup made with watercress we harvested from our middle pond.

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  15. OT, but it does pertain to a home. My niece and her husband and daughter live in the Edina condo complex where the shooting took place on Saturday morning. One of the bullets went through the 9 year-old daughter’s bedroom window, then through her closet wall into the mudroom on the other side. The bullet came from across a large courtyard before it went through the window. Fortunately, they were out of town for the weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How terrifying, OC!! No one would guess that this could happen in one of the wealthiest suburbs around. The NRA’s just succeeded in shutting down a new law which would make armor-piercing bullets illegal. They said that these bullets are needed for hunting. Yeah – right – there are so many deer out there wearing bullet-proof vests!

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  16. I’m a good house and pet sitter, and I don’t mind watering indoor plants, taking in mail and newspapers, etc. I do well with all the various critters involved: chickens, multiple cats, and a dog. It’s the extensive watering of outdoor potted plants that get to me. These are all small containers – window boxes and such – and if it’s hot outside, they dry out quickly. There’s a reason why I don’t have extensive outdoor potted plants myself. Lugging an unwieldy hose all over creation is a pain in the back pew, and I avoid it when I can. Also, I don’t do snow shoveling.

    Our one sweet house sitting gig was in Kino, Mexico. Our friend, Ramone, invited us to stay in his house, right on the beach, while he was visiting his daughter in Arizona. The house is a beautiful adobe structure with all modern conveniences; it came with a weekly visit by a Mexican woman who cleaned and cooked, a couple of stray dogs and cats to be fed, and an abundance of sunshine and plants that didn’t need watering. Ah, heaven! While we were there, Bill and Robin were taking very good care of our Daisy, and our neighbors looked after our house and cat.

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  17. I would never expect anyone to take care of our garden. Too much bother for someone else. We have resigned ourselves to travel only when our garden doesn’t require much care. We have neighbor girls come and take care of the cat, and the dog goes to a really caring kennel in a small town nearby.

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  18. When I was still milking cows, I had one neighbor who would come and milk for me. That is a major commitment.
    (Bigger farms with multiple employees and parlor milking situations it isn’t such a big deal. But for me and the stanchion barn, it was huge.)
    He did a great job and vacations would not have been possible without him.

    I should have got one of these milking robots.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I’ve been sporadic at even getting time to read the blog lately and was just catching up (in reverse order) and spotted reneeinnd’s question last week about Piper the Westie. Yes! He is definitely giving us a run for our money. He shows occasional flashes of intelligence but is not the least bit reliable. Days without accidents are few and far between and are more a function of our diligence than his obedience. He finally sleeps (in a crate) for about 8 hours at night (10-6). He apparently has no idea what his name is; his lack of response is equal in name calling tests we’ve performed. He is adorable and playful and may have a soccer career in his future. He’s adept at carrying one toy in his mouth and moving another along with his front feet. He pounces like a kitten and is extremely curious about everything. His greatest fear is garbage carts; they are obviously dangerous and must be barked at and retreated from whenever they’re in view. He’s not quite 5 months old, so we still have hope that he’ll learn the ropes, but he’s a lot like an inquisitive toddler at this point and cannot be left untended or uncontained.

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  20. I remembered another house sitting gig where we actually “earned our keep”. 100-year-old stone cottage in the hills around Carmel, CA, cat-sitting while friend was visiting her grandkids. She had left a very thorough notebook for House Sitters with all the instructions about the cat, plus maps to places we might need to go (Trader Joe’s, favorite restaurants, Point Lobos hikes, etc. Place had a lovely yard with a horse corral down the road apiece, and the old stone fireplace had a gas insert complete with remote. 🙂 It was just a glorified vacation, and we performed adequately… meant to go back and do it again, but Ben the Cat died.

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  21. my house sitting stories are about the time my parents left me home alone when they went to somewhere and i didnt go. they gave me the money instead and left me to mind the house. i was 14 and had a girlfriend or a ball game or something so i stayed home and my friend justin came over and somehow we decided it would be good to make a bunch of people to sit around the house out of clothes stuffed with crumpled newspapers i had a couple in the living room and i one in the kitchen a coule others here and there standing or sitting to fit the placement of the moment. i had soem other guests come over and we just acted like it was a normal thing to have shirts and pants with shoes attatched suffed and sitting on the couch. when i say joseph seigle years later at the walker i got it immediately

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    1. My friend, Ta, made such a sitting woman sculpture while in college. That life-size sculpture has traveled with her ever since. When I’d visit Tia in Chicago, there she’d be, sitting in a chair in the corner of the living room where I’d sleep on a mattress on the floor. She never failed to startle me whenever I awoke in the middle of the night, sitting there silently watching me.

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  22. My most memorable housesitting experience was when I set off the alarm system when I was entering the house.

    It wasn’t my fault – the owners had forgotten to program in the code I used when I looked after their cats. Fortunately I knew the password when the alarm company called and asked for it. The password was Elvis, which was the name of the oldest cat.

    It took awhile to figure out what was going on with the alarm. The rep from the alarm company – a woman named Shannon, IIRC – asked me for the password and I said Elvis and started explaining who I was and why I was there, and then the phone got cut off and the alarm sounded again. She called back and said she had to ask for the password again, because they were required to do that at the beginning of every conversation. So I said ELVIS and started explaining again, and the phone cut out again, and it went on for awhile like that. I would pick up the phone each time it rang and say “Hello, Shannon, it’s Linda again, the password is ELVIS” with the alarm whooping in the background and we’d get a few sentences in before the phone went dead again. Finally when I picked up the phone for about the 8th time Shannon shouted “DON’T MOVE!” so I froze, and she asked me for the password again and I said it’s ELVIS. She had figured out why the phone kept getting cut off. The phone was in an area that had a motion detector on it, and it was very near a basement door behind which the alarm was sounding loudly. So every time I picked up the phone I tried to move away from the alarm to get to a quieter place. And every time I did that I was setting off the motion detector again, and the system would seize the phone line so it could call the monitoring station to inform them. So I had to stand stock still next to the wailing alarm while she shouted instructions on how to temporarily disarm the system.

    During this time two of the cats were hiding upstairs, but Elvis came and sat on the kitchen floor looking up at me quizzically. Probably wondering why I kept shouting his name, and why it was taking me so long to get the food out.

    After I got the alarm to stop sounding, there was a procedure Shannon described to me to disable the alarm completely. It involved going into the basement and taking apart the alarm panel with a screwdriver and disconnecting some wires. If I ever decide to pursue a life of crime I have some valuable training.

    Shannon and I were pretty good friends by the end of the evening.

    Liked by 6 people

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