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A Ferry to Asia

House Sitting Alpacas in the South of France

FRANCE | Saturday, 26 September 2015 | Views [294]

Over the past few years, I’ve house sat throughout Europe. Every house sitting job has been an adventure, but of all of them the most memorable has to be the one where I looked after 18 alpacas.  

House sitting, for those not in the know, is where you look after other people’s homes while they’re away. Typically there are pets to look after as well, although normally that means looking after cats and dogs as opposed to alpacas.

This particular house sit was closer to a WWOOFing assignment than a house sitting job. For most house sits, you turn up a day or two before the house sit begins, get yourself acquainted with the pets and property, before the owners leave for their vacation. Because this assignment involved looking after a farm (someone else’s livelihood), the owners wanted us to do two weeks of training for around 3-4 hours per day before they were willing to leave us in charge.

I’d stumbled across the assignment on Trusted Housesitters, one of the main house sitting websites. There are a handful of different websites that cater to house sitting, ranging from around $20 per year in price to over $100. I’d spent a lot of time reading about each of them and trying to work out which were worth joining, but in the end seeing this particular assignment as all it took to encourage us to sign up.

As soon as we’d created a profile, we got in touch with the owners and after exchanging a few emails and phone calls, we were packing our bags to head to France.

The Assignment

This house sit involved looking after 18 alpacas and 7 cats, as well as all of the usual responsibilities that go with looking after a property when the owners are away.

The owners were keen for us to get to know the alpacas by name and to be able to tell them apart. Naturally, if you’ve ever seen two alpacas side-by-side, we didn’t think this would ever be possible but over the course of the two weeks we surprised ourselves in being able to tell all eighteen apart.

We were also expected to run through a few different scenarios e.g. what happens if the stud male escapes and gets into the female pen, or what happens if a car crashes and breaks down the fence? It was basically boot camp for alpaca wrangling at the end of the two weeks we felt confident that we were ready for just about any eventuality.

Several of the alpacas and cats had medical conditions that needed attending to at least daily, and sometimes even more than that and we also had to do a few simulations where vet care might be involved.

Would I do it again?

This particular house sit was a lot of work and I normally tend to go for assignments that take up less time, but it looked like such a unique experience it was hard to pass it up. I’d definitely consider taking on another assignment like this again in the future.

Tags: france, house sitting

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