Community and Lifestyle

FarmSitters Australia – Giving farmers a break since 2004

James Nason, 18/09/2018

drought

One of the biggest hurdles standing in the way of farmers taking a much needed break, especially during the hardship of drought, is finding reliable caretakers to run their property while they are away. FarmSitters Australia was developed by Kim and Phillip Kelly in 2004 to match up farmers needing a break with experienced and carefully vetted farm sitters. They have since helped thousands of farmers to take a well-earned rest in the past 14 years. 

 

WHEN friends needed someone to look after their farm so they could take a family holiday before their children went back to boarding school, Kim and Phillip Kelly helped out by putting them in touch with Phillip’s recently retired farming parents.

Kim, a veterinarian, and Phillip, an agribusiness professional, soon realised they knew of many others in similar situations.

This included not only other property owners needing reliable people to caretake their property so they could take a much needed break, but also many former farm owners or rural workers who would welcome the chance to return to the bush to become short term ‘farm sitters’.

The couple began more actively encouraging farmers and farm sitters to connect and as word spread they soon became the “go to” people for matching up farmers seeking a break with short-term farm caretakers.

As interest grew Kim and Phillip realised a professional service was needed so they established a business to properly service the demand – “Farm Sitters – Australia” – working up the concept and business plan during their own break on a trip to the beach in 2004.

Some 14 years later Farm Sitters – Australia has helped thousands of farmers all over Australia to take a break, secure in their knowledge their farm was in good hands and well looked after by carefully matched farm sitters.

The service has also given thousands of farm sitters, often retired farmers or rural workers, a welcome opportunity to get back on farm.

“We have experienced situations where farmers have not been able to leave the farm for many years, become members and are now taking regular breaks,” Kim explained.

‘In many cases the same farm sitter keeps coming back and strong friendships are built’

“In many cases the same farm sitter keeps coming back and strong friendships are built.”

The business has also been able to help farming families with multiple properties who can no longer source suitable station-hands or managers by having farm sitters take up two to three-month farm sits.

“We have clients who have a regular turnover of farm sitters on multiple properties with the farm sitter enjoying the benefits of a place to stay for a while and property owner knowing that they have someone reliable in place,” Kim said.

“We have seen retired farmers get back on the farm to help others and the benefits that has for all parties.”

Some farm sitters are on permanent travel and will go from farm sit to farm sit as a means of experiencing different localities, communities and farm systems.

There are also many pre-retirement farmers who take up the challenge of farm sitting as they leave their ‘heirs’ in charge of home base.

So how does it work?

The business is based on a membership system, through which farm owners or managers and people wishing to become farm sitters, become members of Farm Sitters – Australia (More information on membership details and fees can be found on the Farm Sitters – Australia website)

Participation is contingent on meeting terms and conditions which are designed to meet the specific requirements of rural property owners and to provide full transparency for both property owners and farm sitters.

Kim said a key focus when they established the business was to provide a managed service that ensured security and peace-of-mind for the property owner/manager.

This was based upon Kim and Phillip’s personal knowledge and understanding of owning and operating rural property, with both having family backgrounds on the land.

To become a member, prospective farm sitters provide an expression of interest through the application process, supported by three references. Kim and Phillip check all references against the known requirements to be a successful farm sitter, and personally speak with each applicant and their referees, and communicate directly with each property owner.

Once an applicant, either a farm sitter or property owner, becomes a member they have access to the Members Database.

The database provides property owner members with the ability to provide details of their farm sitter requirements, and to search for suitable farm sitters.

A farm sitter also has the ability to promote themselves and search for positions available.

Once a position or suitable farm sitter is identified the members can make direct contact and discuss requirements and assess their suitability.

They can then agree to negotiate the terms and conditions of the arrangement.

Generally, Kim said, a farm sitter will visit the property and meet with the owner the day prior to commencing, at which time all details are confirmed including what is to be done and what is not to be done in the owners/managers’ absence.

Payment or other rewards and conditions are negotiated between the two parties. Kim said Farm Sitters – Australia is able to provide guidance to members on this process.

The Farm Sitters – Australia website was recently updated to give members greater access and flexibility in updating details, disclosing when they are available or when positions have been filled, and the ability to add more promotional information, such as farm photos.

The business has now helped several thousand members in its 14 years of operation.

A helping hand in drought

While the business is available to members at any time, the opportunity it provides for farmers to take a relieving break from the stresses of drought is also significant.

“We have been very mindful of the impact of the ongoing drought conditions and having spent several years in the central west of Queensland where we have many members, we have provided ongoing support when required,” Kim said.

“We are able, through our database, to promote any urgent requirements for property owners and in most cases are able to source assistance in short time.

“Just recently we promoted through the membership an urgent call out for help for a non-member property owner who we know personally and they received several enquiries within a matter of hours.”

The ability for farmers and farm sitters to be matched up in a structured and professional way is also playing an important role amidst the many offers of support being made to farmers during the current drought.

“While the demand for support through this drought with assistance with feeding and other general farm management needs is recognised our members are cautious to the overwhelming offer of free and uninvited assistance,” she explained.

“The show of support is acknowledged and valued however in some cases people are just turning up on farms, with good intentions, however placing even greater pressure on the farmers.

“This is why any on farm support needs to be structured to suit all parties.

“It is important that the farmer knows that they can leave the farm and their animals and other assets in secure, safe and reliable hands.

“Many who are enduring ongoing drought conditions would benefit from getting off farm even if it is just for a few days.

“This is where Farm Sitters – Australia is able to assist. Of course a critical time for those seriously impacted will be post-drought and this will be where the assistance will be greatly valued.”

To find out more about Farm Sitters – Australia visit its website here

 

 

 

HAVE YOUR SAY

Your email address will not be published.

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.

Comments

  1. OSCAR & GILLIAN NIELSEN, 16/05/2022

    Hi, we are an elderly retired farming couple seeking farm sitting jobs starting around the beginning of June 2022 in Southern WA especially in the Mt Barker /Albany region but extending to the Margaret River region or further. We have farmed all our lives and are totally reliable.

  2. Annette Ibbetson, 21/08/2021

    Hi my name is Annette and my husbands name is paul we would like to help someone out at there farm so they can go on a holiday we are available from 1st October 2021 as we are currently house sitting in Hervey Bay would prefer up here in Queensland

  3. Graham and Allana, 17/07/2021

    Hi,
    We’re recently retired from professional employment.
    Sold our home to build on our small farm but have extreme builder shortages at the moment so looking for alternative farm caretaker for a few months
    Plenty of farm experience, sheep and cattle, horses and dogs etc.
    We’re near Crookwell NSW
    Both non drinkers and non smokers.
    Have never applied for position before
    Thanks

  4. rosemary and ray brown, 13/06/2021

    Hi, we have a 60 acre property located in NE Victoria, we run a small farm stay business, we have numerous animals, chooks, sheep, horses, kangaroos, elks, pig, we are wanting to get away for a break not sure just how long at this stage depending on restrictions. We have three SC units on our property so accommodation is not a problem. thanks in advance

  5. Tammy Ashby, 25/05/2021

    I’m mother’s of 6. Ive been a carer since I was 18 now as I’m 41 I’m full time mother’s been working full-time as volunteer playgroup coordinator an property management for local church an various positions. Looking for a short or long term care of farm. I’ve worked farms as a child an want to get my kids away from the city life. Non smoker drug free an very committed to take on a challenge.

  6. Norman A Farrell, 25/02/2021

    Hi , this looks like a great way to help.

  7. Pat and Mel O'Donohue, 30/11/2020

    Hello all, we have a small hobby farm in NE Victoria and planning to go for a trip just after Christmas for about 5 weeks. We are looking for someone to feed our dogs and chickens. We have an orchard and a small veggie garden. We have 3 bedrooms to choose from and a very comfortable living area. Are you interested and free?

  8. Kath Taylor, 28/10/2020

    I’m single, retired and looking for farm work in exchange for toilet and shower facilities. Will start in Victoria then travel Aust for about 3 yrs. Jack of most things, master of none and willing to try new things. Owned a cattle ranch, ran a dairy farm, raced 16 horses, fruit picking, haying, ploughing etc. Professionally: PA, business owner, DHS (25yrs) contract worker. Read, swim, hike, sew, woodwork, camping. Cheers Kath

    • Pat and Mel O'Donohue, 30/11/2020

      Hello Kath,
      we have a small hobby farm in NE Victoria and planning to go for a trip just after Christmas for about 5 weeks. we are looking for someone to feed our dogs and chickens. We have an orchard and a small veggie garden. We have 3 bedrooms to choose from and a very comfortable living area. Are you interested and free?

  9. Sarah Cope, 27/10/2020

    I am available to farm/station sit anytime after the end of 2020. I have experience on cattle stations and small holdings. I haved experience with horses, cattle, sheep, dogs, cats and chooks. I know what needs to be done and I can recognise when it needs to be done. (I also am a qualified governess if that helps). Preferred area: QLD, NSW and VIC.

    • Pat and Mel O'Donohue, 30/11/2020

      Hello Sarah,
      we have a small hobby farm in NE Victoria and planning to go for a trip just after Christmas for about 5 weeks. we are looking for someone to feed our dogs and chickens. We have an orchard and a small veggie garden. We have 3 bedrooms to choose from and a very comfortable living area. Are you interested and free?

  10. Ian Sainsbury, 01/07/2020

    Hi Deb, are you still looking for some help? If you are, when and for how long are you looking for?
    Regards,
    Ian

  11. Deb, 01/05/2020

    Hi, we are looking for someone to farm sit, possibly end June early July 2020, depending on restrictions being lifted. Duties would include feeding of household pets ( birds, pig, cats, ostrich etc) we are located approx 2 hours southwest of Rockhampton. We are situated on 5000 acres. Possibility of needing to start water pump, located at house. Accomodation available or access to power for your own van.

  12. ROY ADAMS, 23/01/2020

    Hi. I own a farm in Cowra NSW Central West. On my own now as my wife passed away in March last year. I am affected by drought and wont leave the property until things improve. What i require is someone to stay and look after my domestic animals. Dogs and cats. I have two villers on the property so accommodation is no problem. I need to know for the future that I can get away at some time to visit family whom live 100’s of miles away so daytrips are out. I need to know costs involved as a pensioner I cant afford to be paying wages. I need someone who can have a rent free accommodation holiday, mind dogs/cats and keep the place secure.

    • debra knight, 13/05/2020

      hi
      how are you , id like to help you out , how long would you be going away for at a time . I have cats myself so can get away for short stays but if it was long stays would need to bring them along for the trip .
      let me know your thoughtsx

  13. David Crowther, 31/12/2019

    Hello there to my future farm carer.
    I am in need of a reliable person or couple to care for my 80 a.c. off grid farm in SE QLD. 1 hour south of Toowoomba.
    (solar power management experience a bonus)
    A few animals , large gardens and orchards.
    Duration of required times would vary from 1 week to 4 months.

  14. Anita Towers, 08/07/2019

    I’m available from 12/8/19-23/8/19 and I would like to help and something

  15. Greg Morgan, 13/06/2019

    Worked on dairy farms also looked after beef cattle build and devoloped raspberry and strawberry farms under tunnels

  16. Kelvin John Kelly, 25/09/2018

    Heard about it from a friend good way to see a bit of different country

Get Beef Central's news headlines emailed to you -
FREE!