Our year of house sitting: poo-picking, mucking out stables and chasing chickens

Annie Hearfield

As animal lovers who couldn’t have pets of their own, last year Steve and Arabella turned to TrustedHousesitters to combine their love for travel and taking care of animals. Here, Steve retells their journey so far, including the story of their first house sit...

“Our adventure started in 2018 when, as a poverty-stricken student and a perennially skint teacher, we were looking for an Easter break. Because of our living situation — we live 250 miles apart — and with our busy lifestyles, neither of us could give the time to look after animals on a full time basis. Then we heard about TrustedHousesitters. It seemed the perfect fit.” 

Steve feels that their success as sitters has largely been down to Arabella’s occupation as a veterinary student.

“I would dearly love to say that animal owners pick us for my fantastic ability with animals, my caring nature, my maturity and my reliability. But no, they pick us because Arabella, my long-suffering partner, is in her final year as a vet student”

Their first house sit took place near Bath, in a house with lots of character with two Lurcher crosses. 

“Our first house sit was in a gorgeous secluded wooded valley near Bath. A quirky artistic house, with old wooden beams and wonky floors. It was with great trepidation that we slowly turned the key on that first day, but we needn't have worried...”

Despite some initial apprehension, Arabella and Steve loved their experience in the rolling country hills, and were excited to continue their house sitting adventures. 

“We were hooked from day one. Walking the fields and lanes of the sleepy villages of Somerset. Through blazing red poppy fields to quaint churches, passing fields of sleepy cows, this was heaven.”

However, whilst Arabella enjoyed riding the horses through the country, Steve was left with the less glamorous jobs...

“Arabella spent the week riding majestically across the moor, taking in the breathtaking scenery and breathing in the pure West Country air. I spent the week poo picking, mucking out the stables, retrieving half-dead little 'presents' that Fergus had so kindly brought in, chasing 'Houdini' chickens back into their pen, and being assaulted by 22 ravenous man-eating sheep. I now know two things I didn't know before. 1 – where the term 'ram-raiding' comes from, and 2 – horses somehow defy the laws of physics and produce more than their body weight in poo every day!”

For Steve, poo-picking and chicken herding was all part of the fun – and since then their TrustedHousesitters journey has seen them look after many different animals from kittens, cows and even alpacas. 

“Since that gorgeous spring day, we have completed a dozen or more house sits, with a wide variety of animals. We have bottle fed lambs and watched newborn kittens in Sussex, fed alpacas in Kent, collected eggs in Hampshire, and stroked a pet cow called Jessica. We've walked the Mendips, the Quantocks, and the Chilterns, and battled through the ferns of the Ashdown Forest. We've spent Christmas day on the beach at Pevensey Bay, and misty October mornings knee-deep in mud feeding horses.”

One year on, Steve and Arabella reflect on all the great things they’ve experienced since joining the community, and look forward to the adventures they'll have on their upcoming sit in Sweden, which will be their first sit abroad.

“It has been an amazing year. We've made new friends, experienced so many different types of animals, both large and small, seen parts of the country we've never been to, and just had the most wonderful time. But now, as the summer comes to an end, new adventures await as in October we've bitten the bullet and taken on our first overseas sit. Sweden here we come!”

If you want to learn more about Steve and Arabella’s house sitting adventures, follow their Twitter account, @PetsSit.

Got a house sitting story? We’d love to hear from you!

We loved reading this story from Steve and Arabella — and we’d love to hear even more. If you’ve got a story you’d like to share about fantastic sitters you’ve met, or owners which have provided you with a wonderful house sit, please let us know.

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