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


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  • 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...

    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. We have our moveable pen system in place so a couple times a month we’ll move pens around. We’re in the process of converting our land to high production pasture and there is lots of work to be done with it. There's always a construction project of some sort and plenty of rocks to move throughout the farm.

    Our second child was born March of 2015 so we're looking for people comfortable with children. Our oldest runs around outside so we sometimes need volunteers to look after him and we'll need more help in the house with preparing meals and general cleaning. If you'd like to volunteer only for child care and house work, that is fine. Let us know that in a message so we won't plan on having you help with butchering and meat preparing.
    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 are expecting our third child so things are extra chaotic around here. In mid-late September through mid October we are looking for people to help with farm maintenance and caring for the animals. This is the time our 3rd child will be entering the world so we're not sure of our butcher schedule at this time.

    We were married in 2013 and had our first child in November of that year. Since you will be sharing our home, we expect the house to be appropriately quiet in the evenings and at night. We wake up early and are not so quiet while doing it. Feel free to have camp fires, enjoy Cotacachi, Quiroga, and Otavalo, but volunteers are required to wake up and start work early. On that note we have the volunteers help more in the house than before. Since this is a farm, the house is in continuous need of general cleaning as well.

    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.

    The farm is always busy. Some times less than others, but there is a lot changing on the farm, and lots of projects in progress.

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

  • Help


    (updated June 1, 2016)
    We require stays of at least two 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. We are going to start converting our land into high production pasture (for our pigs) and will need extra time to do so. We also need to keep to our butchering schedule.

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

    Help is required in food preparation, mostly meat processing from butchering all the way to finished cooked/smoked products. A general week would be butcher Monday, meat processing Tuesday & Wednesday (generally longer hours). Thursday and Friday are maintenance of farm. Note: Shawn works a lot more than 30 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 girl is 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 other single beds. It is a shared room with a divider inside. There is a detached bathroom with nice, hot water. Below the loft is our butcher shop which is also the kitchen for the volunteers. 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). A little about the kitchen: it needs to be 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?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected


My Photo Album

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