Thank you both for your replies; I find it encouraging that other people do just a couple of assignments yearly!
I checked into per diem, but unfortunately not available locally so far. I have a home and acreage that I enjoy taking care of, which is why I'd like to just work a bit during the winter months. And I have animals that I would not be able to take with me, so kind of limiting - I'd like to be able to go home on my days off. Time (scheduling and travel time) are a priority to me, less than say money is. Altho I must say the stipend thing sounds attractive and might work to my advantage.
Sounds like good advice about the tax issue, I'd definitely have my advisor look at that!
After your replies I feel like I can contact some companies without being afraid they'd laugh me out of the office
I wouldn't mind travelling further afield because I love to travel, take trips as often as I can. But can't right now
In a few months when my chores are caught up and I'm back from vacation I'll probably contact some companies (and this forum!) for more info.
Thanks again - great forum.