I must admit, lately, I’m loving my life. I’ve been opened to opportunities and they sure have been coming my way. I’ve lived so many different experiences already, I feel like I won’t run out of stories to share or relive when I’ll be old and bored. One of these new lives was short-lived, unfortunately, but I can still add goat sitter to my list of different life experiences!
How it all started
I’ve always been interested in staying somewhere for longer in order to have the time to get a feel for a place. But it’s not always easy to find ways to be able to afford to live in a place for a while, especially pricey places like Switzerland. One of the ways I’ve found to explore a place more in detail is to temporary move there. Just like I did in Scotland, or when I did a workaway gig in Jordan. This time, though, I was looking into housesitting when I found this seemingly incredible opportunity to become a goat sitter in Switzerland for a few months!
When I left Scotland for Switzerland I was very excited. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew goat sitting would involve collecting poop.
The goats are called Florian and Bruno and they are what one could call house goats. They are treated as part of the family, very much like a dog or a cat. And even though they are not allowed inside, in theory, they know how to work their charm to get special permissions.
The first goat related task in the morning was to boil water. Florian has a special diet, so while the water was boiling, I would prepare his stuff. Once it was all mixed, I would fill the water bowl with cold water. But because they are quite spoiled goats, I needed to add some of the boiled water to make it not too hot and not too cold but just the right temperature.
It was now time to go outside to get the food ready. I would fill up two feeding areas, as Florian didn’t like to share anything with poor Bruno. It was now time to go get the sleepy heads. I would walk around to the stables, unlock the door, and say hello to both goats and their many other furry friends in the other stables. Misha the cat was usually sleeping with the bunnies and she was blending in quite well.
Florian and Bruno would then make their way outside to the front yard. They knew the drill and walked straight to their food. I would feed Florian his special food and then walk back to the stable as they were now busy.
Once back in the stable, I cleaned the poop, brushed the floor and made sure everything was ready for the night. Once this was done, I would come back inside and indulge in good coffee and breakfast.
At lunch time, it was time to go outside again. This time, all that was needed was to clean the poop in the front yard and basically spend time with the goats. I would spend a few hours petting, playing and pretending to fight with them. Playing with goats did involve a lot of bruising on my thighs. Florian was enjoying playing so much he would barely give me time to get my balance back before charging towards me again. I managed to play with Bruno too, but he liked it better when I would hold a branch next to him so he could scratch that hard-to-reach spot in between the horns. If I had anything special to give them like branches or mistletoe (they go crazy for mistletoe), now was the time. Once they were content I would come back inside and get on with my day.
The end of the afternoon signaled when the goats needed to be moved back into the stables. Or if it was raining, when Florian got too whiny. This time around, I would pick up fresh hay, bring it to the stables, change the cold water in the bucket for some lukewarm water and made sure everything was generally silly goat proof. I walked back to the yard and passed a rope around the goats’ heads, just to make sure they didn’t get distracted during the very short walk to the stables or try to escape into town. One day the rope slipped and Bruno though it was oh so funny to play catch-me-if-you-can. I quickly learned my lesson! Once they were all tucked in, it was once again time to clean more poop and get the yard ready, locking all doors and bringing the cushions inside. At last, my goat duties were done for the day!
There are a few small differences about living in a farmhouse compared to a flat. One of them being that if I forgot to turn the pellet stove or the wood stove on in the morning, I would freeze my ass. It only takes a second to remember to turn it on, but it takes a lot longer for it to actually get warm!
There was also the always present goat smell on my clothes. Goats don’t actually smell too much so it’s not that bad, as long as one remembers to keep the goat clothes for the goats! I did tend to forget, and would be wearing my nice jeans, or had my nice sweater on when I got outside. And when I did, it was always the day Florian decided to be extra cuddly, especially when he was muddy, or he would decide to lick all my stuff. The house in itself didn’t smell of stables as the goats were not allowed in, usually anyway!
The owner and I did a few expeditions and walks in the forest with the goats, and although the scenery was gorgeous I just couldn’t shake that uncomfortable feeling. Something didn’t feel right.
The first week, it was all new and exciting, and I wondered if the feeling of excitement was going to last. Little did I know it wouldn’t. The thing about house sitting is that usually you take care of pets while the owners are away. But this time, it was slightly different, the owner was there. And we didn’t get along. I usually do manage to get along with most people, but in this case, it was just not working. So I left earlier than originally planned, as there was no point in staying and making life more difficult for everyone involved.
At the time, deciding to leave early felt like a failure, especially because I did love the goats.
It is quite unfortunate that this experience did not end how I was expecting it to but it was still a good learning experience. I did learn that I didn’t have to stay in a place if I was very uncomfortable. Walking away from a difficult situation is not something I thought I would be able to do so I was glad I respected myself enough to leave early. Even if this meant that it was an abrupt end of the short chapter of my life as a goat sitter. I walked away with a new found love for goats, improved level in self-respect and gorgeous pictures of Switzerland!