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Farm Sitting Service Takes Off
Chris Youngmark is a matchmaker for folks interested in doing farm sitting and those farmers who need them. In the past, family members, friends, and close neighbors could be counted on to take care of things when people went on a trip. In many areas, that’s no longer the case. Professional farm sitters are filling the gap, but finding one can be challenging. Making that easier is why Youngmark started The Farm Sitter.
“With family and friends spread out, help is often not available,” says Youngmark, The Farm Sitter.
He first observed the need as the owner of a small hobby farm with horses, chickens, dogs, and cats. “It can be difficult to find a caretaker that’s consistently available and knowledgeable,” recalls Youngmark.
In 2018, he decided to start filling that need for others. He started a farm-sitting business. Everything went well until the pandemic hit and his customers stopped traveling. Once things started back up, so did the business. However, a couple of things had changed.
“In addition to farm sitter, I had taken on the role of assistant director of the Illinois small business corporation,” says Youngmark. “I needed to hire independent contractors to meet customer needs. This also allowed me to expand our geographic reach. That, in turn, produced more referrals from satisfied customers.”
Youngmark has operated regionally in Illinois with independent contractors for the past couple of years. Thanks to news stories and an internet presence, he’s had queries from more than 40 states and several countries. Some contacts are from people looking for farm sitters. Others want to become farm sitters. Recently, he began expanding.
“We’re developing an app for people wanting to find farm sitters in their area, as well as prospective farm sitters,” says Youngmark.
Before listing a farm sitter on the site, Youngmark establishes their credibility. He runs background and reference checks and screens them for experience with animals. However, doing that remotely can be difficult.
“Ultimately, the customer needs to rely on how they feel about the farm sitter and their comfort with the customer’s animals,” says Youngmark. “We facilitate a meet and greet with the customer and the prospective farm sitter to familiarize them with the animals. We also offer individual training of the farm sitter.”
Pricing is where Youngmark feels he can advise prospective farm sitters. In his current practice, he has set prices for different levels of service, from single visits with an hour of chore time for $39 to extended stays on-site or overnight versus single or twice-a-day visits, all at different rates. Other rates cover wellness checks on property with or without animals, as well as emergency visits and customized farm sitting. As his service expands to other states, he notes that rates will vary based on local conditions.
“Pricing is a local thing,” he says. “We provide a way for sitters to establish their own pricing. Someone in central Illinois has different expectations from someone in Chicago.”
Youngmark emphasizes the importance of communication between the sitter and the customer. As a service provider, he seeks reviews from both sides when a job is complete. He also encourages written checklists left around the barn or other buildings to help the sitter get into the routine.
“We’re a growing company interested in expanding to new markets,” he says. “We don’t have all the answers but are working on them. I’d love to hear from FARM SHOW readers about the challenges they face when leaving their farms and pets and how they currently find farm sitters.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, The Farm Sitter (ph 309-925-1140; www.thefarmsitter.com).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #6