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Co-sit a vegetarian mini-farm

Costa Rica, , Guanacaste Province


  • Dog(s)
  • Chicken(s)


  • Period available: 5 months, 3 weeks
  • Starts: 31 March 2020
  • Ends: 26 September 2020


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About this assignment

I would like a sitter or sitters to help Juan care for our two sweet dogs and a small flock of chickens, and generally maintain the two houses, orchards and gardens. I hope that the sitter could make a commitment for at least three months.

Juan is my partner and right hand man in this permaculture project. He will be living in the other of two little houses. You would coordinate with him (and me) while you are living here.

I am looking ideally for a team of vegetarians/vegans who speak very good Spanish, have some experience in Latin America, enjoy gardening and farm work, are clean, tidy and responsible, and, of course, love dogs and other animals. You need to be tolerant of heat and bugs, and you need to have good social/language skills to communicate well with Juan. A bonus if you have a driver’s license.

We try to tread lightly on the Earth on this tiny patch of its surface, treating life and water with care. We are constantly building and conserving soil, storing rain water in the ground, and reusing all our grey water. We avoid using any commercial products that could harm the plants or the river. We try to be sparing with electricity and public water. Out of respect for animals and the planet generally, I invite people who come to be at least a flesh-free vegetarian while here, and to help me protect the trees, animals, water and soil.

What responsibilities are required of the house sitter

You will need generally to be open to learning from Juan how to take care of the gardens, orchards and animals.

You should spend no more than a couple of hours a day working.

The dogs:
The dogs, Gondo and Lucas, are young boyfriends in love, somewhat naughty (need more training), suckers for love. They try to hunt iguanas, and are very affectionate with people when not being watchdogs or looking for prey. They sleep a lot on or under the beds, are in and out of the houses at will, (even with their muddy feet-- I do a lot of laundry and cleaning during the rainy season).

You would be home a lot for the dogs when Juan is at work. Sleeping arrangements are negotiable, and feeding will be up to Juan. The boys do not really need to be walked since they have the run of the property, which is fenced in, although outings off the quinta are very appreciated. Cuddles and long massages are equally appreciated. Baths are not, but must be tolerated now and then!

The chickens:
The chickens have their own routines, and Juan will oversee them and keep the coop clean. Your job is to change their water every day and help them cool on hotter days by wetting a part of the yard or putting out a sprinkler.

You will also have to buy and haul chicken feed from town and rice husks for bedding, as needed.

The property:
You will be responsible for all the leaf raking and picking up dead branches, on an as-needed basis.

Keeping things clean and tidy is important to me, and I hope it is to you too. Aside from your housework indoors, you will probably want to sweep the shared areas around the houses every day or every other day, because they quickly collect dust and leaves, and to sweep and mop the shared workshop/laundry area a little less often, as needed.

A thorough dusting of ceilings, walls, doors, windows, furniture, etc. is needed indoors and out from time to time.

If you like gardening, you are welcome to help tend the ornamentals, flowers and medicinal plants, however it’s not required.

Also, you are responsible for harvesting as much fruit as you like, for yourselves or to give away.
Juan will take care of watering, mulching, tending compost, pruning, digging ditches, etc., although if you like this work, he would probably appreciate your help.

Other maintenance:
Maintenance is mostly cleaning, however building and equipment problems do arise. Most minor repairs can be done by Juan, but we can problem solve by WhatsApp as things arise.

You would also be responsible for communicating with me by email with any questions or concerns, and alerting me to any problems.

What are the good features of the property and location

You would live in the little blue “guest house,” which is right beside the little white “main” house. It is a clean, well-maintained two-bedroom bungalow, with screened windows, and a patio overlooking gardens and trees along the river. It is "rustic" -- there is no air conditioning or swimming pool, but the house is cooler than most houses, every room has a fan, and there is plenty of fresh, cool well water to fill the mini-pool in the garden. The shower has hot water.

We are set on about ¼ hectare. In the parched summer landscape, the “quinta” is a welcoming, shady oasis for wildlife, domestic animals and humans. While the two loving dogs lounge, play, or go after wildlife, a flock of happy, roaming rescue chickens peck and poop. Dozens of fruit trees –mango, avocado, lemon, miracle fruit— and old hardwoods lining the bank of the river attract magnificent iguanas, varied birds, monkeys, and impressive insects. Crocodiles lurk in the water.
Depending on the season, there may be ripe avocados, limes, oranges, coconuts, mangoes, bananas, cashew fruit, and a slew of other little-known fruits for the taking. There are several herbs and medicinal plants in the garden.
We are close to national parks featuring varied ecosystems, forests, rivers, waterfalls, virgin coastline teaming with wildlife, mountains and volcanoes, as well as hot spring spas, hiking trails, all in an area full of wind farms and geothermal energy projects. Lots of great day trips. Juan would probably like to show you around. The area has different kinds of beaches, most of which have been developed, with the most popular reachable in a little over an hour. There are some famous surfing beaches not far away.

In your spare time you might want to plant a garden, write, feed the hummingbirds, draw or photograph the scenery, go for a run with the dogs, or help neighbourhood kids with their homework.

What does the house sitter need to consider before applying for this assignment

Although in the countryside, the farm is not entirely peaceful: dogs bark, roosters crow, parrots screech, monkeys howl and you may at times be annoyed by the roars of trucks on the nearby highway.

Please research the weather in the Liberia area before considering this sit. The weather has become unpredictable; however it is always hottest in April and May, at the end of the long dry season. The rainy season that follows, maybe slightly cooler, lasts until around November, and can bring hurricanes or strange drought. During the heaviest, most dramatic tropical downpours, storm water rushes across the property, winds down branches and trees, and electricity often blacks out briefly.

This is a rural area, and there is only a tiny convenience store within walking distance. We are about a 10-minute drive to the village of Cañas Dulces, which has basic groceries, hardware, pizza, and a few other services.

The “Big City” of Liberia, only a 15-minute drive south, offers big supermarkets, a farmer’s market, and any other services, from cell phones to good restaurants, cardiologists and plastic surgery.

You have a few options for transportation: you will have access to my car a couple of times a week; you can hire an inexpensive driver to get around when you need wheels; or you can walk four minutes to the bus stop and get off in Liberia 15 minutes later.
The cost of living is high compared to the rest of Central America, and groceries are quite expensive, but there is a farmers' market in Liberia every week, where you can get a variety of (non-organic) fruits and vegetables at good prices.

Public services are not great in this area. Internet is usually adequate, but can be slow. Blackouts of a few hours are common, especially during storms, and can leave you in the dark with candles and no Wifi. The water is potable, and because of frequent rationing we have our own backup tank so you will only feel a drop in pressure. Consumer goods are not of good quality and break quickly, so it is possible that I will have to send you out to buy car parts or a new washing machine!

Last updated: 28 March 2020

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