A 300-acre country retreat and an energetic young cat
IMPORTANT-->The dates listed this winter are APPROXIMATE-we are looking for any two to three week period WITHIN the dates listed. With just a little notice, our plans are flexible. We are also open to working with local sitters coming in to spend the day and night with our cat for a couple of days on and off over the period we are away.
Explore the beautiful Grey-Bruce region of Ontario while staying in a classic but comfortable Ontario Gothic farmhouse. Built by James's great-great grandfather in the 1880s, it has been upgraded and enhanced and has been used as a summer getaway for several years. The house, barn and shed sit on 300 acres of mixed farmland, forest and protected wetlands that you are free to hike through....
We (James and Yvonne) have moved back to this area full-time from the US for personal and professional reasons. Although we enjoy life in the country, we also love to get away to the big city, sunny places, and to see friends, sometimes for a few weeks at a time.
We are trying this housesitting service primarily for our cat, Conrad. He is fun, playful, affectionate and energetic, but also a little high strung and goes a bit crazy when left alone for more than 48-hours. He can handle a day or two, but more than that? He begins to get very lonely and makes us pay for it when we get back! A one hour a day visit (if that) by our otherwise lovely local cat-sitter is just not available enough for Conrad when we leave for longer periods. Conrad has had a privileged and slightly lonely life--the barn is the world's greatest cat condo ever, but the lack of people around here makes him cautious around strangers. We are hoping that this new approach to catsitting exposes him to different cat-loving people and allows him to feel less lonely and bored while we are away.
We also love the idea of reliable adults keeping an eye on the place--the house is in good shape, but like any place, it needs some basic care-taking, especially in winter.
The ideal house and catsitter is independent, has his or her own car, enjoys being in the countryside, and is patient with and loves cats.
While adult singles or couples are preferred, if you have older kids--in their teens, for example--please feel free to contact us about this as the place can sleep 4-6 people. + More info
Our Home & Location
The house is a two-story 19th-century Gothic farmhouse that has been fully renovated. It is comfortable and well furnished with a large country kitchen and living area; it also has two bedrooms with a double bed in each and a couple of study/work areas. The main living area is generous, with a couch and two armchairs.
There is also a large flat screen, a dvd player, a vcr, and an old-school stereo. We are both avid readers so the library is extensive....
In the summer, a wrap-around porch and a couple of decks add more space, but if you bundle up you can enjoy a coffee outside in the sun on some winter days. The house is surrounded by a large lawn, next to a pasture, complete with barn and shed--as well as a small forested area near the house. The fields are suitable for snowshoeing in winter as well.
This is all sits on a 300-acre property--about 100 acres are pasture or field and 200 acres are conservation land, which is mostly forest and wetland with a few paths cut through; there is even a small kettle lake on the property (the Blue Hole). The property also located close to several public hiking areas and the Bruce Trail, as well. While the house itself is on a paved road, the property is surrounded by beautiful gravel roads for walking, biking, and running in decent weather.
The region is fascinating--a mix of wilderness, farms, adorable towns, history, woods, lakes and a number of cute cafes and restaurants. The location is about 10 kilometers East of Chesley, but is well positioned: one is just a 20-minute drive to Durham or Hanover for coffee, restaurants, and groceries. Better yet, you are within a 35 to one-hour drive to number of waterfront towns on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay (Kincardine, Port Elgin, Southampton, Sauble Beach to the West; Owen Sound, Collingwood, Meaford, Thornbury to the North/Northeast). If you like to ski, the Blue Mountain area is just an hour away. Finally, we are about 2.5 hours from Toronto and1.5 hours to smaller cities like Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and London.
It is the perfect balance of remote yet central, pastoral yet cultured, year around.
-->The Internet here is technically called "basic" because it is not officially "high speed" according to the provider--but we rarely have trouble streaming movies or working remotely (including teaching online classes). It is pretty reliable but weather can slow it down once in awhile. + More info
Responsibilities & Pets
Conrad is a lively, playful, attention-loving, affectionate three year old cat. A mixed breed tux, we think he has a little Abyssinian strain in him because his personality seems to reflect that breed (and he looks a bit like one too)--he is loyal, energetic, curious, loves the people he is close to, and is easily bored.
He is the primary reason we are trying out this site's approach....
The ideal catsitter loves playing with cats and is willing to take a few minutes every few hours to play "feather" or throw some stuffed mice around. He also likes to just hang out while one is working or watching a movie. He enjoys being petted but has a few limits. He loves being outside with or without us--he is an indoor/outdoor cat and your comfort levels with this can guide what you decide to let him do. In the winter he stays in for the most part or runs right to the barn (you could carry him to the barn for special energy-burning play session if you want!). The house is far from the road and he tends to roam in the opposite direction (Barn, woods, pastures).
In terms of the house, very little is required. Mail checking, a little plant watering, a little snow-shoveling, and a few other minor seasonal tasks (winters have different requirements than summers of course!). + More info