Ranch Sitting Caretakers: Storybook Scenery, Free RV Parking, and Pay

Ranch sitting pays the bills, gives us an RV parking site with utilities, and puts us in a storybook scene of beauty. Unlike volunteer work or work-for-site exchanges, this property caretaking paid competitive compensation.

I sit looking out my RV window at horses grazing in a lush pasture. Brilliant red cardinals come and go from view. Across the way, deer live in the trees. I can sometimes see them wonder down to the brook for a drink. This is not storybook scene. It is real.

The property is a gorgeous ranch. We lived there for several months, caring for it as our own. We were ranch sitting.

Some call this ranch sitting arrangement property caretaking and others call it paid work camping. Still others might say we were simply lucky enough to find a wage-paying job that also provided us with a free place to park.

The rancher and his family were away most of the time. They more or less lived with her mother across the county. They had been making twice-daily trips to the ranch to feed a few horses and cats.

Our only set duties were to feed these animals. It was a ten-minute job each morning and evening. Other than that, our primary purpose as ranch sitters was to make the place look lived in and in doing so, provide security. Our comings and goings kept the property from looking deserted. We did do an assortment of odd jobs around the homestead -- yard work, picking up, some maintenance work. We did these because we were living there and it seemed natural to go ahead and do some basic things we saw needed doing. We wanted to leave it looking nicer than we found it.

We received a number of things that helped keep our living expenses low. We had a field-size parking site with electric, water, and dumping facilities. We could use their washing machine and clothesline. We had phone service.

Still, some cash income is always necessary. This ranch sitting experience met that requirement, also. The rancher owns a landscaping construction business and needed some temporary help. Bob was able to work for him for an hourly wage.

How did we find this situation? We asked for it! It pays, literally, to ask for what you want.

We were working as flea market vendors, living in our RV on the flea market grounds. Bob met another RVer there. He helped him do some work on his rig. As they visited, Bob mentioned that he was looking for some extra work.

The new friend worked part-time for a landscape contractor. When the construction company owner needed additional help, he relayed that Bob was available.

The job started out as being a day or two a week. As the contractor got busier, he called Bob more often. Before long, it turned into a nearly full-time position.

When the flea market’s insurance company required the market to institute a “no dogs” policy, we knew we would need to be moving. We didn’t want to move to an RV park where we would need to pay rent.

The contractor was the owner of a small ranch. As we considered our options, we wondered if he would like a caretaker.

Bob presented the proposition to the ranch owner. He asked. The contractor/rancher was very open to the idea. It no doubt helped that Bob pointed out the benefits he would receive from our being on his property. Bob continued working for the contractor, earning an hourly wage, while we lived there as property caretakers.

It was a mutually acceptable arrangement. We all benefited.

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