In my Fantasy Life, I am young and elegant, and the kind employer of a good-natured couple whose lives are dedicated to my comfort. The female half of this selfless pair cooks delicious meals and cleans the house, while her competent, multi-skilled husband repairs everything and keeps the garden lush and beautiful.
In my Real Life, I’ve mustered a cleaning lady for a couple of hours a week, and managed to nail down a reliable electrician. For one brief, halcyon period long ago I had a trio of men named Dave helping out. One built a cupboard in the dining room (Dave); one built an arbor (arboreal Dave), and the third helped me plant some young trees (digger Dave). When the Daves showed up in the morning, it was just like my Fantasy Life, except for the part about me being young and elegant.
Country Wisdom provides all sorts of home-related services, from housekeeping to gardening
It’s tough finding skilled workers for small projects, and it seems even harder to get hold of someone reliable to house sit or do odd jobs. And that’s where Country Wisdom comes in, a two-year-old company that I am delighted to have just discovered. It’s “A Caretaker’s Collective,” with the comforting motto: “Whatever you need, we’ll take care of it!” (That exclamation point suggests: What a surprise this will be for you, after all those times you waited around for people who didn’t show up!)
Chris Hewitt, a 35-year-old Ulster County resident, is the mastermind behind Country Wisdom. His background is in journalism and marketing (which explains his attractive, well-written brochure and Web site), but about five years ago, he began working as a caretaker at a large estate, where he not only hired carpenters, painters, gardeners and such, but learned a lot of those skills himself. Two years ago, he decided to start Country Wisdom, a business providing a range of services for homeowners. Today, there are 15 skilled and (where necessary) licensed people in the collective, including landscapers and arborists, plumbers and electricians, and Hewitt has seven full-time employees taking care of properties of all sizes. “I’m trying to build a team of renaissance people who are multi-talented,” says Hewitt, who is multi-talented himself. His full-timers include a housekeeper (“She can do any domestic task, and we use all green cleaning products,” Hewitt notes); a gardener; a carpenter; a painter; and three general assistants. (I think I’ll add an “Assistant” to my Fantasy Life line-up of domestic staff.)
Country Wisdom can provide help on all kinds of projects, big and small. Hewitt recently transformed a barn into an artist’s studio with radiant heat, and he offers annual contracts for landscaping or home care. But you can also get somebody to do simple things like weed and mulch your garden, or do your grocery shopping and prepare a meal for when you arrive home. (The accomplished Hewitt once owned a restaurant on Fire Island and has also worked as a personal chef.) Another project in the works is a series of DIY videos “so that people can do tasks on their own,” Hewitt says.