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Publié le by NmNomador

Don't Be a Chicken: Why You Shouldn't Overlook Watching Farm Animals as a Pet Sitting Experience

Cows lined up in Australia - Photo by ChangesInLongitude.com.

Most people might limit pet-sitting to watching cats and dogs, but we never overlook caring for farm animals. Most of our pet-sits have been with dogs, but we’ve also had great experiences tending chickens in California and bottle-feeding Bella, a motherless calf in the Australian bush country.

While most house-sitting listings require caring for a dog or cat, occasionally we’ll come across one that adds a new wrinkle to the customary list of house pets. Although the setting might be an actual farm, it is possible—particularly with smaller animals such as chickens or rabbits—that someone simply has a small pen in their back yard.

A confused chicken - Photo by ChangesInLongitude.com.

Our experience with chickens involved feeding them, a simple process which mostly required sprinkling their feed on the ground in their pen. It was fun watching them waddle over to peck at it, clucking away like—you guessed it—a couple of chattering hens. For some reason they really took a shine to Michael. Whenever he got near the pen, the gals would come running. It was one time that he could describe himself as a "chick magnet!"

The experience was fun and a break from our normal pet-sitting routine. Besides, one of the benefits of watching chickens is a steady source of farm fresh eggs! Every day or so we would peek into the henhouse and discover that our “girls” had left us a few gifts. We became quite proficient at making omelets and are now kind of spoiled—farm fresh eggs are SO much better than what we suburban folks typically buy at a supermarket.

Bella the calf thought she was a dog. Photo by ChangesInLongitude.com.

Sometimes the house-sitting is on an actual farm, where the owners have larger animals such as horses and cattle. The amount of horse- or cattle-sitting depends on the homeowner (or in this case farm owner). If the animals are out in the pasture, the house-sitter might simply have to fill feed bins and water buckets, tasks that don’t really require any special skills. In situations where horses are stabled and have stalls that require mucking out, or animals that need to be exercised, owners might want a housesitter that has some experience in that area. If you love working with horses, this is a terrific opportunity!

When we were house-sitting on a cattle ranch in Australia we didn’t need to take care of the herd, but we were responsible for Bella. She was a young calf whose mother had been killed a few weeks earlier by a poisonous snake. With her mother gone, it was necessary to bottle-feed her. We enjoyed this daily task with Bella, who by the day was acting more and more like a lovable household pet than a farm animal. She would wake us up in the morning with a gentle lowing at the screen door, which would get louder and more cranky-sounding the longer it took us to get out of bed.

Larissa feeding Bella the calf - Photo by ChangesInLongitude.com.

We both grew up in the suburbs, far afield from any farms. Before our experience with Bella, we would have never thought we could handle a house-sitting task like this. But one of the nice things about house- and pet-sitting around the world is that we’ve become exposed to more experiences than ever before. At night, under a crystal clear Australian sky carpeted with stars, we marveled at the absolute quiet. Then Bella would mosey over and, with a gentle nudge, request a cuddle. That may be our sweetest house-sitting memory yet.

After successfully fulfilling these assignments, we are no longer fearful when we see a pet-sitting listing that mentions farm animals. It’s worked out for us (and more importantly the animals) before, and we are confident it will do so again.

Author Bio

Larissa and Michael Milne

Larissa and Michael Milne have been global nomads since 2011. They blog about their adventures at ChangesInLongitude.com and write the weekly “Field-Tested Travel Tips” column for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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