A British farmer, who half-jokingly suggested leasing out her goats for Zoom meetings during a UK lockdown, has made £50,000 (nearly $90,000) from hiring the animals for internet chats around the world, including in Australia.
The BBC reports that Dot McCarthy, from Rossendale in Lancashire, said hiring out her goats for Zoom chats in the US, Russia, China, and Australia had kept Cronkshaw Fold Farm open and staff in work and had also paid for improvements to the site.
The number of people paying for “show goat” Lola and others to butt in on calls had been “insane”, she told the BBC, adding that it was “more fun” than selling manure to make ends meet.
The farm, which features on BBC One’s The Great Staycation, usually adds to its income by hosting weddings and educational visits.
However, coronavirus restrictions in the UK have closed that side of the business down.
Instead, the 32-year-old farmer reportedly came up with the idea of hiring out her flock of goats to brighten video calls by briefly having them butt in as a surprise, the BBC reports.
The service, which McCarthy said was the “greatest of all time”, sees people pay £5 (roughly $10) to hire a goat. The goat then joins a scheduled meeting through Zoom’s invitation system with a little help from farm staff.
McCarthy told the BBC it was the shock of her life that it had become such a success. After just putting the service up on her website to “give people a laugh” in April 2020, she reportedly woke up to 200 emails requesting the goats’ presence on calls.
According to the BBC, McCarthy’s goats have now appeared in virtual meetings all over the world, with some people donating far more than the hire charge for an appearance.
One family reportedly books one of her other goats, Margaret, every Saturday morning for a longer catch-up. “They call her Marg and she is one of the family now,” she told the BBC.
“They love to hear her news—from her first hot date to news that she is expecting.”
McCarthy told the BBC that her team had struggled to keep up with the number of calls, but the success had allowed her to keep her two employees on full-time.
The money, she told the public broadcaster, would go towards converting the farm to renewable power to improve its carbon footprint.
Featured image source: https://www.cronkshawfoldfarm.co.uk/goatsonzoom
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