Follow on this ride through the United Kingdom, France and the Pacific as Donna care for animals of absent owners, building a successful enterprise along the way.
Many people dream of long-term travelling but the reality is it can cost a lot, equally in terms of money and time. Not many of us can just pack up and take off, but Donna Mulvenna found the ideal solution – to travel the world, one farm at a time.
In her own incomparable writing style, packed with humour and colourful characters, Donna retells amusing stories of eccentric clients and the wonderfully weird, and often bizarre, world she suddenly found herself immersed in.
From heavy horse work on the Isle of Skye, to pampered pooches in the Loire Valley in France to snorkelling with dogs on Norfolk Island in the Pacific, Donna set a frantic pace which formed the basis of a successful enterprise.
And if, once you have read this fascinating account, you feel that farm sitting might be something you would like to try, there is a section at the end of the book, with tips from the author, detailing how you too can be an extraordinary farm sitter and travel the world while making money.
“5 STAR Inspiring, entertaining and informative November 24, 2016
Donna Mulvenna has lived an adventurous life, and in this little gem of a book she outlines how she transitioned to a life of farm sitting. The book has practical information for those who would like to travel in her footsteps, as well as plenty of amusing anecdotes for armchair travellers too. As a long-term house sitters who have only once had to look after farm animals (sheep), this book gave us a fascinating insight into further potential for our lifestyle. Get this book and be inspired about where life can lead you if you open up to the adventure.” Wider Vision Publishing
Java Davis for Readers’ Favorite, Sept 30, 2016
I was expecting Donna Mulvenna’s book, Farm Sitting: How to Travel the World One Farm at a Time, to be anecdotal stories of life on other peoples’ farms. Instead, I found a wonderful self-help guide to becoming a professional farm sitter. Donna Mulvenna briefly recounts her own story of how she came up with the idea of farm sitting for a living. Her well-ordered life took a major detour and she needed a new plan and some adventure. She was already familiar with how to take care of most farm animals, and apprenticed at a larger farm to learn more about machinery. After some initial mishaps, Donna became adept at everything she needed. The business of farm sitting grew to full-time inside of the first year. Ms. Mulvenna sold almost everything she owned and became a farm sitting nomad, branching out from Australia to a world-wide clientele, with many repeat customers.
The premise of Farm Sitting: How to Travel the World One Farm at a Time is learning that farmers need vacations, just like everyone else, but where do you find a qualified farm sitter to manage your precious business and/or your precious animals? Where do you go to find someone trustworthy? What does the owner need to know to feel at ease leaving their property for days or weeks? Donna Mulvenna provides those answers. But she also covers what a farm sitter needs, how to find your niche market, legal ramifications, emergency contacts, including veterinary, pricing, suggestions for references, and suggested surprises for the clients for when they return. Things I would never have considered as a layperson were laid out clearly and concisely.
It is obvious how much the author loves this kind of work, travel, and overall lifestyle. If anyone is considering farm sitting, he or she should start here. She also recommends this life for couples, wherein the clients would get a “twofer,” making them feel doubly secure about their vacation plans.
A chapter excerpt from Farm Sitting – How to travel the world one farm at a time
“It really is a fairy-tale castle,” I said as I described my next placement to my friend. It was where I had accepted a twelve-month assignment entailing the care of two dogs, one goat, three horses and a large fish tank.
“The work could be as much as four hours per day,” the owner said. “I hope that won’t be too taxing for you.” That left twenty hours each day to sleep, eat pastry, sightsee, sift through a private library, watch movies on massaging recliners, kayak on a private lake, walk through a private wood and have regular holidays from my holiday in the owner’s Paris apartment. No, it wasn’t too taxing.
However, whenever I hear the words large fish tank, that’s often cause for concern. I once had a neighbour from the first floor of my apartment building pounding on my door. It appears my bath sized fish tank, on the third floor, had sprung a leak during the night. I had bought it from a garage sale, the motto of this story being, you get what you pay for.
Since then aquariums and I had never really got along. I hoped this one was going to be different.
The dogs were the big fluffy playful types that you immediately fell in love with and they always accompanied me on a morning walk. This one day I spotted a man in the neighbouring field spying on me from behind a hay bale. “That’s odd,” I thought concluding bird watchers the world over were becoming stranger by the minute. Onwards we walked and I didn’t give the matter another thought.
However, two weeks later I answered the door to fifteen police in full riot gear. It was rather exciting until I learned I was the subject of their investigation. France, as it happened was cracking down on illegal workers and a report had been received of an Australian, me, working illegally at the Chateau.
I had been under surveillance for two months, during which time it was established I was indeed working. “Ah, that explains the birdwatcher,” I said. “I require your passport,” said the officer. I handed over my British passport and the officer disappeared into the back of a black unmarked van.
“Accompany me to your living quarters please,” said another officer. In my living room apartment ten officers no longer felt exciting but downright intimidating, not just for me but for the dog as well. As any good farm sitter would do, I held up my hand and in poor French said “I am not answering another question until you let me get my other dog.” The officer raised one eyebrow and I braced myself for the whole body tackle to the ground thing. Instead, he issued some instruction to a female officer who left the room.
“Do you need a translator?” an officer asked. “Je ne comprend pas (I don’t understand),” I replied. While we sat and waited for the search for other suspected illegals to finish the female officer reunited both dogs and the three of them played for the remainder of the interview. “You will need to come with us to see a translator,” said the officer.
“I’m not going without my dogs,” I said. “Don’t push it,” he replied and in perfect English I thought. Into the paddy wagon, I went.
Okay, this was starting to get a bit weird. I have an Australian and a British Passport which entitles me to work in France. “Ah yes,” said the officer through a translator. “But there is a discrepancy with your British passport because it does not have your family name.” “I could have told you that,” I said. “It is my married name.” “But when questioned you stated you were single,” he said. “Yes, I am. But I’m divorced and go by my married name.” He relayed this information to the superior who then turned to me and in broken English said, “You are divorced and choose to keep you ex-husband’s name? Oh, La La – your choice.”
The entire saga ended in smiles and handshakes, but it would have been very different if my documentation had not have been in order. And the fish tank? It leaked!