We are a couple in our 50's and we moved with 2 horses into our small holding in the Scottish Borders in April 2017. We are at the very early stages of setting this up as a facility for ethical, sustainable horse keeping, organic food production for ourselves, and eventually as a guest house for visitors to the Scottish Borders.
We have 10 acres of grazing, which includes some very wet land with natural springs, and a large garden which is divided into several areas and includes a polytunnel.
My day job is teaching people about ethical horse keeping and force-free animal training and my husband is an expert in business solutions testing. He works as a consultant for a large IT solutions and service provider. He is also a part time hypnotherapist and loves teaching people about positive psychology.
We hope to welcome positive, cheerful, sociable, energetic, fit and flexible people with a sense of humour and can-do attitude to come and help us with all and any of the help required around the property in exchange for great vegan food, improving your English, learning about positive psychology, horse care and animal training and enjoying the opportunities to explore Scotland.
We are one mile from the main road between Carlisle in Cumbria and Edinburgh - the capital of Scotland and about halfway between the two. This is a really good place in the Scottish Borders from which travel both to further north and into England is easy and cheap.
We are also one mile from the main X95 bus route from Carlisle to Edinburgh and in 20 minutes you can get to Galashiels from which buses run all over the Borders, or to the railway station there that will also take you into the centre of Edinburgh.
So we are a good base from which to go exploring on days off. We are on or close to several long distance walk paths and there is a LOT of opportunity to go hiking and biking from the door or using public transport. We can lend you a bike. We can help with language skills, positive psychology (personal development), and teach practical skills such as horse-care, dry stone dyke repair, hedge trimming, weeding, planting, construction, fencing, sewing. There would also be opportunities locally for people who want to learn how to use chain saws or other machinery through local colleges.
At the moment we are looking for people who either have some experience of looking after horses, and / or who have specific building skills, especially carpentry or joinery (to a professional standard) and / or dry stone wall repair.
But we are also happy to have people who don’t mind a few hours weeding a day, or sanding down woodwork!
We have two horses so our daily tasks include mucking out the yard, poo picking the fields, making up haynets and preparing horse feed. We also give the horses a good groom at least once a week and pick out feet daily.
Our current projects are all outdoors and include weeding, dry stone wall repair, interior and exterior decorating, and we have a number of projects for which we need a qualified experienced carpenter/joiner. That includes making some wooden doors for our outbuildings, and some interior joinery projects such as refitting our utility room and bathrooms. So there is probably enough work to keep a skilled carpenter or joiner busy for a few weeks!
What we most need are fit, strong and healthy people with common sense, determination and stamina and a positive can-do attitude who are used to working as a team or on their own outside in all weathers on heavy and sometimes repetitive jobs. If you think you will enjoy turning over a compost or muck heap, gathering and processing firewood, raking over big areas of ground to collect loose stones and rocks, painting walls or getting dusty sanding down window frames on a wet afternoon then you're going to love it here.
We mostly tell people that our work consists mainly of moving horse poo, compost, wood and stones from a to b with the light relief of a bit of painting and decorating!
You will need to be practical, be able to listen carefully and follow simple instructions and clarify anything you aren't totally sure about, willing to have a good go at something and confident to ask for clarification if you aren't sure exactly what to do.
If you have a previous injury, or any condition that could be made worse by repetitive heavy work using your hands, arms, back and legs, such as lifting, carrying, sweeping, sanding down woodwork or working on your knees, or bending up and down a lot, then please let us know in advance and we can decide if we can work around that.
In winter we may work on indoor decorating / refurbishment projects if the weather is really bad but mostly be prepared to be outdoors in all weathers. We really flexible about hours. We will discuss your start and finish times of work and days off with you on arrival and on a day to day basis they may be determined by the weather forecast!
In accordance with the workaway guidance you could expect to work about 4-5 hours a day for 5 days a week.
We also offer working student placements for people wishing to learn more about horse behaviour and training where you would receive education in the basics of animal training and practical opportunities to learn how to train horses in exchange for additional hours of help. This does not include riding.
We are really flexible about days off and we try to ensure that helpers get the chance to see the local area and experience the culture, if they want to.
Own (possibly shared for short periods during changeover) en suite room in our modern well insulated and warm house.
Food is provided for 3 meals a day while eating at home, and you would pay for yourself if we invite you to eat out with us. Breakfast is DIY and sometimes lunch is shared or DIY depending on whether we are in the house. Since we all have to eat, we all share the work of preparing and cooking food and washing up, loading and emptying the dishwasher. Cooking and washing up time is part of living with us as a family and in addition to your 5 hours of help time.
That might mean that we all share the food prep and washing up some days or that you are asked to cook for everyone on one day and have others cook for you on another.
Come prepared to take the lead on preparing food and making meals. We have lots of recipe books for those who need to broaden their repertoire of dishes.
We eat vegan food. We don't mind if people want to buy their own milk, eggs or cheese and eat that, but they would need to do that and to also buy any additional food they want such as chocolate, snacks and so on at their own expense. We enjoy wine and beer and we can get drinks for helpers when we go shopping for which they would need to pay for themselves. A glass or two of wine or a couple of beers is our limit. We do not allow excessive drinking and we have a strict no-smokers and no drugs policy.
What we tend to do is to involve helpers in food shopping so they can influence the choices of meals.
For breakfast you can choose from home made bread, bagels, cereal / muesli and fruit. Lunch tends to be things like soup and bread, salad and vegan sausage wraps, beans on toast. Evening meals tend to be pasta, rice, curries, vegetable stir fry, that kind of thing. We use wine in our cooking a fair amount, and we also like a lot of garlic but the food is not too spicy. If you are willing to try new foods and recipes you will like it here. Provided you eat more or less anything plant based, you will enjoy the food. If you are gluten-intolerant, or dislike or are allergic to several different foods, we are not for you.
We do not have a TV and since the purpose of workaway is cultural exchange then we'd like to encourage people to come who are likely to want to join in with social activities. We like to play Scrabble, join in village social events, and to sit and talk in the evenings. If you are more likely to be found behind a laptop screen, or to be on your phone on social media we are probably not for you.
In order to encourage cultural exchange and pro-social behaviour with us and our other helpers and guests we do not allow the use of mobile phones at the dinner table or while working. Consider a stay with us as an opportunity to detox from social media or phone addiction!
We are about a mile from the A7 midway between Hawick and Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. It's easy to get here by train from Edinburgh to Galashiels, or by bus. The bus stop is about a mile from the house. We are happy to give helpers lifts to places locally on their days off. There are leisure centres, cinemas, cycling, hiking opportunities and loads of interesting historical sites.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
4-5 hours a day 5 days a week