Volunteer with us in northern Ecuador, we are a family farm focusing on animals



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 Min stay requested: at least 3 weeks

  • Description


    Come join us to learn about raising animals, butchering, and processing meats into delicious finished products.

    Update November 2017:
    It looks like we will be taking an extended break from hosting volunteers. We have hosted for more than 4 years and have had over 250 strangers become part of our life. In that time we have transformed our farm and family into something really great. Volunteers played a key role in that. It's time to step back and take a break. If you really feel compelled to send a request to volunteer, please have something of [learning/help] value that we can't say no to...

    Looks like we'll be hosting again in September 2018. Don't ask for dates before that. We're looking for couples more than singles but we'll consider all.

    We are full-time farmers who are not independently wealthy so we rely on the farm for our sustenance. The projects and work we do here hopefully have a potential to create money or a savings of money, so we choose work that best creates these things. We have, and are continually, properly raising livestock with care and thought. We then process the meat into quality products to sell mostly to the increasing expat population around Cotacachi.

    The farm is located 10 minutes from Cotacachi, 15 minutes from Otavalo, and 5 minutes from Quiroga. Currently we have pigs, chickens, dogs and cats. We also have bees for honey collection but that is seasonal. The dogs and cats who live in the house roam all over (possibly your bed). We have fruit trees around the farm and we do small plots of veggies from time to time. We have, and are continually reforesting our land with native Andean trees. We began a food forest, implementing permaculture practices. Most of the trees are planted so now we are gardening around them, waiting for them to grow.

    Our primary focus of the farm is processing meats then it’s raising our animals (primarily pigs). Of course our children are above all so we look for help with them too. There's always a construction project of some sort and plenty of rocks to move throughout the farm.

    About us
    Shawn moved from Nebraska in 2008 and has been working on the farm since. I'm in my mid 30's and really love living in Ecuador and especially the farm. I have traveled a lot of Ecuador and definitely know the surrounding area of Cotacachi well.

    Lindsay is a former workaway volunteer who landed at the farm years ago and never left. She is a North Dakota native but spent the last 10 years in Atlanta, Georgia before coming here.

    We were married in 2013 and had our first child in November of that year. We wake up early and are not so quiet while doing it. Feel free to enjoy Cotacachi, Quiroga, and Otavalo, but volunteers are required to wake up and start work early. Since this is a farm, the house is in continuous need of general cleaning as well.

    We have our three children, ages 4.5, 3, 1.5 so it's quite fun playing with them and them leading you on adventures around our farm and surroundings.

    English is primarily spoken in our house so immersing yourself in a culture to learn Spanish will most likely not happen at our farm. We do speak Spanish and we need to speak it more regularly around the house.

    If you request to volunteer here you must be comfortable in the entire butchering of animals. You will not be required to end an animal’s life but you will need to help from that point forward. Whether or not we butcher at the time you request is irrelevant. It's most likely that some sort of butchering or meat processing will be done while you are here.

  • Type of help

    Type of help

    Babysitting / child care
    General Maintenance
    Cooking / shopping
    Help with Eco project
    Help in the house
    Animal care

  • Help


    (updated June 22, 2017)
    We require stays of at least three weeks but longer is preferred, as long as everyone gets along. We want hard working individuals who want to learn about meat processing as well as work outdoors. Your help is exchanged for room and food. The help is not always done as a group so independent workers who take initiative are encouraged. The hours per day of help are not the same all the time. The time worked doesn’t include lunch (unless you are designated to help prepare) which is generally longer than one hour.

    The help priority list:
    Daily animal feeding/watering
    Look after the children
    Meat processing/food preparation
    Farm maintenance
    Construction projects

    After our year long break from volunteers (beginning in Sept 2018), the main focus for volunteers will be outdoor animal care and maintenance of the farm. It will be an early start day 6:45am to feed and water pigs, change pens, etc. But also help is needed in food preparation, mostly meat processing from butchering all the way to finished cooked/smoked products. It might be more of a watch and learn shadowing but who knows.

    Note: Shawn works A LOT more than 25 hours a week and might be noisy doing so.

    If you are not comfortable with meat processing, eating meat, seeing blood, this isn’t the place for you. Also in food preparation there are lots of dishes so lots of washing. Ability to do physical labor in the sun or rain is necessary.
    If you want to help only with our children, that is great. Let us know in your message. Experience is preferred. Our oldest likes to run and play outside and our little girls are getting more interested in the outdoors.

    We have a hard time accommodating vegetarians. Primarily we eat the meat that has been raised on our farm, which means it's raised, butchered, and handled using sound, humane practices. Again, if you aren’t comfortable helping with this process, please do not send us a request to volunteer here.

    When sending a message to request a volunteer stay, please mention any foods you can't eat (ie, dairy, gluten, etc).

  • Languages spoken

    Languages spoken

    English, Spanish

  • Accommodation


    We have a rustic loft for volunteers. It is one open room with a double bed and another single bed with a small cooktop and table. There is a detached bathroom with nice, hot water. Below the loft is our butcher shop We try to eat our main big meal, lunch, as a group and breakfast and evening meal are almost always on your own but we provide food (maybe not everything you'd like but sufficient). We provide lots of meat in comparison to other hosts because we process lots of meat and I think you should be able to sample it. We need everything kept clean and tidy with no dirty dishes laying around.

    Washer/dryer are available but bring your own soap and we have wifi internet.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    We will only accept volunteers who have taken the time to fill out their profile. It is important to us to know about the people we welcome in to our home, and work with us.

    As much as we like pets and animals, we do not accept traveling pets. There are no exceptions to this, so don't ask to stay if you are traveling with an animal.

    Using free time to explore the area is encouraged. There are great hikes, sights, and festivals in the area. We love to eat and cook so bring your favorite recipes! If you are a good baker, we might not let you leave the kitchen

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected


My Photo Album

The family, October 2017
Gus, Lindsay, Dirk, Shawn, Caroline
The volunteer loft and butcher house below. Our house in the background
4 of the 7 dogs we have
Tony (our biggest dog) in front of our house addition that volunteers helped a great deal with
Butchering one of our hogs. Harry is helping with the intestine removal on a 500lb hog
One of our momma pigs with her litter
Our first litter of piglets with Spud in the background
Our bacon. Made from our hogs on site in our butcher house.
Older photo of one of the garden areas. We're now concentrating more on animals and long term plants (trees mostly) so it doesn't look the same anymore
Our cats, brother and sister
Out in the pasture looking towards our house
Our original pigs, in our ever changing move able pens

Host ref number: 615253935829