A farmer who started hiring out her goats for Zoom meeting calls as a joke to try and cheer people up amid the coronavirus pandemic has revealed she’s made £50,000 thanks to the quirky idea.
Speaking to presenters Charlotte Hawkins and Ben Shephard on Good Morning Britain, Dot McCarthy, from Lancashire, explained how people from across the globe have hired the farm animals to join in with family and work video calls.
Dot, who runs Cronkshaw Fold Farm and Study Centre, explained she used to rent her farm for weddings and glamping, but had to stop in March 2020 because of the pandemic.
Explaining she had started the venture as a joke, the goats have now helped her make up for the business she’s lost because of the restrictions.
Viewers fell in love with Dot’s playful goats, saying they’d love to hire them for their own meeting.
Dot McCarthy, who owns the Cronkshaw Fold Farm and Study Centre in Lancashire, revealed she’s made £50,000 by renting her goats for Zoom meeting throughout the pandemic
Surrounded by her camera-loving goats, the farmer said her little quip had taken a life of its own after she offered to rent out her goats for Zoom meetings on her website.
‘It was actually a joke, I didn’t think people would want it. I put it on the website to cheer people up,’ she laughed.
She said she woke up with an inbox ‘rammed’ with messages of people asking for goats for their meetings.
‘I’m not on the call, just the goats, they have their own window, name at the bottom and login,’ she explained.
Dot explained she used to rent her farm for weddings and that accommodation on site was rented by travelers, but she lost that income due to the coronavirus pandemic
‘They can talk to you in the chat, saying “Hi,” or say goodbye to a coworker that’s leaving, or a new joiner or ask “how is your meeting going,” she joked.
Dot said her goats, including Lola, eight, Elizabeth, Lisa and Marge, who appeared on Good Morning Britain alongside her, loved the meetings because they got more ‘head scratches.’
She explained that she used to run weddings at the farm and that travellers could rent treehouses and yurts on the site before the coronavirus pandemic, but these had to be shut down.
Viewers loved seeing Dot and her goats, with many saying they’d like her animals to attend their meetings.
‘What Dot forgot is that people are insane. Love this, and now want a goat in on our next Zoom meeting. Will probably make the most sense,’ one said.
Dot first appeared on This Morning last summer, where she talked about what her goats got up to during the meetings.
Speaking of how the venture came to be, she said: ‘It completely caught us off guard. We had no idea it’d be this popular. We thought five or 10 people may be mental enough to hire a goat to put on a Zoom or Skype call or whatever but no, it turns out people all over the world want a goat on their Zoom call.’
She continued: ‘We’ve had calls in multiple different languages and from loads of different countries – we’ve had Australia, New Zealand, France, America, Germany and Canada.
‘People are just falling about in hysterics because they’ve sneaked a goat into their meetings and not told their bosses. And their boss is like, “can anyone else see someone else on the call?”
The goat-loving farmer said the animals were very friendly and loved being on camera, and the fact they got more head scratches thanks to the Zooms
People loved Dot and her goats and some said they wanted her goats to come on their Zoom calls
Dot went on to say how there has been one goat in particular who is proving particularly popular on a Sunday – the one named ‘Mary.’
‘Mary – we’ve put her description on the farm website,’ she explained. ‘There’s a few different ones on there to choose from. And Mary, obviously a religious name, but we didn’t really think anything of that at the time.’
‘We just thought it was a cool name for a goat. But every single Sunday since we started going this, about 15 different vicars book Mary for virtual church.’
And when presenter Eamonn joked whether Mary was with child too because she ‘has a bit of a belly on her,’ Dot replied: ‘I hope you’re not body shaming my goat.’
‘She’s just had young Simone who is climbing on her back there. That’s just a bit of post-baby weight,’ to which Ruth quipped: ‘It happens to the best of us.’
Dot also added that some Zoom-ers have got more than they bargained for – and even witnessed a birth.
‘Because of the time of year it just so happens the goats can do these types of calls because they’re all in pens at the moment and the goats are kidding, which means the goats are having have their babies,’ she explained.
‘We’ve had two calls now which have just so happened to be when one of the goats was giving birth.
Dot appeared on This Morning in June last year, where she explained there was one goat in particular who proved particularly popular every Sunday – the one named ‘Mary.’ Pictured, with kid, Simone
Dot (pictured with the goats), from Lancashire, explained how people can now hire goats to join in with family or work Zoom calls
‘Both of them were quite big business meetings – and no one was expecting it and didn’t know what to do. They were amazed and mesmerised like, “wow the amazing miracle of life and nature ,” at the same time they were like, “that’s really gory, gooey and slimy.’
Speaking of how she manages to get the goat to look into the camera, Dot explained: ‘Goats are very naturally inquisitive animals. They’re really nosy and want t know what you’re doing and what you’re up to. They naturally want to eat stuff as well which normally involves eating the camera.