Although seasoned house sitter Silvina Lipari has had many experiences, milking a goat while house sitting in Greece was a new one for her! Read on to learn more about her remarkable experiences and her 8 top tips for how to house sit successfully on a farm in Greece!
8 Tips for House Sitting in Greece on a Farm
By Silvina Lipari
At the moment, I am house sitting in Greece in a small town, 2 hours from Athens. Livanates has a supermarket, a couple of pharmacies, a couple of bars and a health center. However, the doctor is not always there. To see a doctor, I had to go to another town, 8 kilometers away. As I do not have a car, I hitchhiked!
The beach is only a 15- or 20-minute walk from the farm and from the garden I can see the mountains. This is a relaxing and beautiful landscape.
While house sitting in Greece, I am taking care of 2 dogs, 1 sheep, 3 goats, 6 chickens and a rooster!
8 lessons I learned while house sitting in Greece on a farm
1. Shop during the week. Sundays are a day of rest when supermarkets and health centers are closed.
2. Learn a few Greek words and letters. It helps if you learn to say “hello.” Use a translator app on your phone or write a few translated sentences on paper before you set out. This is not my first time in Greece and I lived in Bulgaria, so I can recognize some letters. Some people – but not all – speak English.
Do your research before house sitting in Greece
3. Before you choose house sitting in Greece in a rural area, research the transportation options. Not all owners offer cars to their sitters, so that leaves 2 options: Hitchhike or wait for the long-distance bus which may run only 2 or 3 times each day.
4. Pack bug repellent. Rural areas often have mosquitoes and other biting and stinging bugs.
5. Ask questions! Rural house sits come with different surprises. For example, the dogs on this farm bark throughout the night. And, upon arriving, I learned I was sharing the house with a mouse. Ugh! Ask about special challenges.
Milking a goat while house sitting in Greece
6. I learned to milk a goat! It is interesting, but not easy, because the goat’s teats are not soft. Sometimes, she has a lot of milk and the udder is very hard. I’ve learned to massage her teats before starting to milk. Then I put her in a place separate from the other goats and feed her.
I stay very still and calm. Once she is eating, I start to milk her by pulling the teat down.
7. I also made goat cheese for the first time! First, I heated at least 2 litres of raw milk to 65 degrees Farenheit, then stirred and cooled to 35 degrees. Then I added a small scoop of rennet. It is an enzyme that makes the milk curdle and harden. I stirred and waited 15 minutes.
Then I poured the mixture into a special bag, which I hung and left overnight. The following day, the cheese was ready!
8. Be prepared to water plants regularly. Rural house sits often have extensive gardens. My Greek farm sit had garden plots with tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, pumpkins, olives and figs.
Some tips for dealing with crazy, hungry animals
Daily, I feed 2 female dogs, Moguina and Aria. Moguina always wants to eat and eats very fast, while Aria, a small dog, eats very slowly. I need to separate them so Moguina won’t mooch Aria’s food.
The goats are Gamorra, Mantis and Groof. They always want to eat and jump and bleat as if they had never eaten before.
Gamorra is the mother and she allows only Mantis, the girl, to drink her milk. I also milk her so I can make cheese!
Groof, the boy, always tries to mate with Mantis, his sister. Gamorra does not like Groof, and they are always fighting. So I have to separate them. To do this, I put one of them in another place with Tequilla, the sheep. I grab them by their horns and physically move them.
Learning all about sheep while house sitting in Greece
Tequila is totally crazy. She cares only about eating. When I bring her food, she jumps and gets herself dizzy! When I open the door of her corral, I put the food in front of her, so she can smell it. Usually, she follows the food. If she does not move, I shake her head.
I learned that sheep are not as clever as other animals, like dogs or cats. Sheep only think about eating. Even goats are smarter!
To say nothing of the chickens…
Feeding the chickens is a daily routine. I give the chickens a kind of pellet and wheat. The rooster believes he can take care of all of them.
On this farm, there is a large chicken coop separated into two areas. This lets me control the chickens and keep them from going out.
Chickens often put their feet in their feeding pots, staining them. So be sure to have water handy to clean the feeding pots.
Summary: What I learned when house sitting in Greece
Whether I was milking goats, learning the fundamental routines of watering the plants in a hot country, or keeping the chickens in their place, it was really, really interesting. House sitting in Greece taught me many different things and offered a variety of different experiences. I can’t wait for my next adventure!
Silvina Lípari is a journalist in radio and graphic media and an independent documentarian. She is the author of Las Aventuras de una Mujer Viajera en Solitario (Adventures of a Solo Woman Traveler).
She blogs at viajeconpoco.blogspot.com.
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