Looking for urgent help while Poul and I both recover from injury/surgery.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON WHO WE CAN ACCEPT
Dual Nationality/British - we are confirming dates now.
EU Citizens - We are happy to accept enquiries and provisionally arrange stays, but we are unable to confirm until we know how Brexit will effect the movement of EU nationals.
Non EU nationals will need to supply us with proof of Visa and Identity. Please remember that you require a visa to work for us even as a volunteer as no volunteering with a business is legal in the UK. All volunteering must be through a charity.
The only exception, as we understand it from our research, is small organic farms and the croft work that we offer. Helping around the home as a guest in our house, joining us on dog walks etc is not business, not paid, and not volunteering.
We are looking for adventurers who are looking to live in a remote location with poor transport links and make the most of the outstanding natural beauty that we are surrounded by. A love of the outdoors and animals is essential.
We are a family living on a croft (small farm) in the Scottish Highlands, with 8 working/rescued dogs, 8 horses, 7 hens, a couple of rabbits, a cat, and at least 3 pigs. Poul is originally from Denmark, but has been here for about 15 years, and Amelie my 7yr old and I are Highlanders, I have an older daughter who lives in Glasgow but visits often. We love where we live and we like to make sure we get time out from our business to enjoy the things we love to do - photography, climbing, hill walking, kayaking, music, gymnastics, dancing, horse riding, mushing, yoga and fitness, slack lining, bonfires, and gatherings with friends. Our business comprises of a cabin in our Caledonian Pine woods that we rent out for 3night to week long stays, and as a hobby we also do horse breeding and pig farming, sled dog mushing, and a little bit of dogsport/WT/IPO (tracking, obedience and protection) with our German Shepherds.
We are also striving for self sufficiency with our food. We are on the first part of that plan which is raising the pigs and chickens. The next stage is lamb and Aquaponics.
Read on to see how to arrange your stay with us. We look forward to hearing from you!
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
You will learn about crofting and it's history (look up The Highland Clearances), how we are very strongly linked to Scandinavia and the Vikings. You will learn about Highland food, sports, economy, professions and industries (energy, agri and tourism). You will learn a lot about the NC500 touring route.
You will learn how to handle, train, and work with horses so that you can quickly build a rapport and get the most out of them, how to harness and hitch up huskies for work (temperatures permitting, needs to be below 10C), how to care for chickens, pigs and sheep. How to do electric and stock fencing. You will get to practise language, learn our dialect, about Scots, Gaelic and Doric. You will learn simple building, plumbing and electrical skills. How to recycle materials, how to live off grid, and work towards self sufficiency.
There may be the opportunity to do some off road driving, climbing, kayaking, and horse riding.
Above all you should learn how to schedule and plan projects, and how to adapt them to problems with supplies, weather, resources etc.
The following need done daily. You will not be expected to do all of this.
PIGS - Breeding stock including a Boar.
Feed and water daily. We have 3 adults and then up to 30 piglets at any one time.
Handle the piglets (cuddle and scratch)
Check and maintain electric fences.
Let out in the morning and close in at night.
Collect eggs (daily easter egg hunt!) and top up bedding.
Feed and water twice daily.
They also require cleaning out every one to two weeks.
DOGS - specialist working dogs now mainly in retirement with special handling needs.
Feed once and water twice daily.
Clean kennels daily; poo pick, then hose out once a week at least.
Exercise on leads walked into the surrounding woods. If the temperatures permit we will bikejor with the huskies.
HORSES - Breeding stock not riding horses.
In winter we stable/barn some so you will need to muck out, but after May until Oct/Nov they are outdoors 24/7.
Feed and water twice a day, in summer check water supply and fences in field as well as horses for cuts etc.
When we have foals they need to be handled for short periods every day.
Light grooming - our horses need their natural wind and waterproofing so we keep them tidy as we can without removing too much protection.
In hand walks in the woods and ground work training.
Cleaning public areas (kitchen, living room, bathroom, hall and decking).
Organising and tidying sheds, feed room, tack room, workshops, and office may also be required.
PROJECTS IN 2019 (subject to the weather).
Apr,May & June - preparing for fencing contractors. Making a wind turbine and replacing the toilet system in our cabin to composting from chemical. Cleaning cabin (paid work), reception (paid work) and taking breakfast hampers and hot water to guests (paid work).
Other aims in 2019;
Removing old stable block and replacing with pigstys, removing old kennels and replacing with a feed shed/stable.
Replacing the roof on our house, painting the exterior, and building a porch whenever weather is ideal.
Training the horses for horsepacking across Scotland in September.
Establishing a polytunnel and setting up as a wedding venue.
Ground works for next accommodation project which is a hobbit hole.
Creating decorations for our wedding in 2020 and Christmas Markets at the end of the year.
We can't confirm places for 2020 yet as we believe that we may only be running aspects of the croft and business part time. The Cabin is always closed from 1st of October to late April.
Once you have dates that you are available please contact us to see what availability we have. We will need some basic information from you including, a copy of your passport showing country of origin, visa if applicable, references, and age if you are applying for a paid position on our glamping huts. All positions are agreed with a weeks trial to start with and we may ask you to fill in a questionnaire to help us understand what you already know about and what we will need to be able to help you with.
The law states we have to pay you minimum wage to work on the cabin, that we do not have to feed you, and we can take £7 per day from your wage for your accommodation.
We do not find it works well due to space, availability of transport and food, to not feed you so we will still supply 3 meals a day and you can use your wages for getting out and about and seeing Scotland. We will take £7 per day that you work for your accommodation, but there are only 2 days a week that we have guests check in and leave. We would not deduct money for mornings you may deliver hot water or hampers as that is usually just a 20minute job.
Realistically work is never 5hrs a day. You are not expected to put in more than 5hrs a day (the only exception might be guests arriving much later due to flight delays, but this is rare), but you have to understand that we may be putting in about three times that and will not be available to take you out and about whilst we are still working. Farming and construction works around animals, deliveries, and most importantly weather – which is rarely on our side. We can not anticipate how well we can stick to our schedule, and we can’t take off any time that we can spend making progress in case the weather changes. As a result it really works well for us to have one workaway who is available purely to cook and clean for the team working on any big project, and as such we would consider taking someone for less than a month for this position.
If you wish to work more than 5hrs and further hone skills then we welcome that, but it is not expected of you.
WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE WE ARE LOOKING FOR
People coming to experience what we have to offer need to be independent, and happy to travel and explore the local area. Having your own transport will really let you get to know the Highlands as there is much of it without trains, and limited bus services. We are looking for people who are focused on helping and having input in the future of the crofting industry, sustainable living and eco tourism. Working on a farm is a fantastic experience, but it is dirty, often wet or cold, life or death, repetitive, dangerous, hard work. So is housekeeping in a farm house!
You have to realise that every animal on this croft has a job - even the rabbits who are mowers. They are specialist in their breeding and type and therefore nothing like pet versions. Skills are required that you can hone, but previous experience is really important. For instance if you don't know why a sled dog doesn't go offlead or walk at heel, that a stallion is as deadly as a grizzly bear, or that a boar can slice through your skin with his tusks like a hot knife through butter you need to go learn about these things with pet horses, pigs and sled dogs/retired security dogs, before upping the anti and trying it out here.
We will teach you how our management systems work to keep you and the animals safe, we put a lot of time and importance on training and best practice, but on it's own it won't be enough if you have never handled 750kg of horse, 300kg of pig, or a dog with 225psi bite force.
Make yourself familiar with the weather at the time of year you are coming. If you are unused to very cold temps, deep snow or wet weather and mud it’s probably best to come in spring and summer. I have a blog post about the weather on the croft across the year and can send you a link if you want to enquire further.
HOW LONG SHOULD YOU STAY?
We specify a month minimum because learning the routine will be half of that. To learn the important information about each species on the croft, their needs, and their needs as individuals is not quick and it can change day by day as the weather improves or deteriorates. To gain construction skills, and to have your riding assessed is also not quick. Riding is not guaranteed as none of our horses are suitable for novices or anyone not trained in classical style of riding or the Parelli program. We would like to pass these skills on but it may be difficult to do around the projects and will have to be outside the 5hrs work.
WHAT WE EXPECT TO SUPPLY AND WHAT YOU NEED TO BRING?
Our expectations as “Host” is to give you comfortable accommodation in our adapted caravan and horse lorry, that includes heat in winter and power at all times, home cooked food, an experience of our family life, culture and industry that we work in, as well as skills you can use in your next position. Whenever possible we help you get out and about to see the Highlands or by taking you to transport links, giving hints and tips and information to help you get the most out of your time with us. If we can include you in our trips as a family to climb, hill walk, tour etc you are very welcome to join us, but we may not always have room in the car.
In terms of equipment we can provide waterproof jackets for working in, but for days out you will need your own. We recommend you get your own wellies once here (to save on space while traveling) at our local store. They can then be resold to the next workaway in your size if you don't wish to keep them. The best footwear for autumn, winter and spring are neoprene lined welly boots that are knee high ("Muck Boots" can also be ridden in), and work boots in summer. For hill walking and hiking invest in a good pair of walking boots with ankle support - we will not aid anyone in hill walking in inappropriate attire. For joining us in the gym/yoga any flexible clothing and trainers. For riding please bring your own hat and boots and any other safety equipment you prefer. We recommend bringing a sleeping bag, and if you are here between the months of September and May it will need to be a 3 or 4 season sleeping bag.
WHO CAN AND CAN'T STAY?
We do not accept dogs - even cabin guests are unable to bring dogs and this is due to our own kennel being a closed, non-vaccination kennel, the aggressiveness of our guard dog towards other dogs, and our free ranging livestock.
Vegans and vegetarians have to consider that they will be caring for livestock that may go to slaughter during their stay here and that we will be doing all our own butchering.
We are happy to accept young students of 18+ years old, but we don't have enough space for families and the farm is unsuitable for small children due to the machinery, large dangerous animals , electrified fences, ponds and ditch network.
HOW TO ARRANGE A STAY
Please feel free to enquire at any time. We would love to hear about you and any relevant experience you have. We get a lot of applications for working with us and are unable to agree to take anyone applying until they can give us definite dates. This allows us to plan the helper "clan" well and avoid disappointing other workaways or keep them waiting for a response that might make their plans fall through elsewhere.
We will give you links to our facebook business page so you can see more pictures and get a better feel for the place. (We are also on Insta, Twitter, Pinterest and several online travel agents). We run an information group about the NC500 which gives tips on sights and things to do and we suggest you join that as well to help plan your days off.
Once you have applied and can give us dates that will fit into our time table we will add you to our Facebook group for all the workaways past, present and future. On there you get a good idea of what to pack, and who to expect to meet. We hope this makes our place feel more like a home when you arrive. If you are not on Facebook we will schedule a Skype call and can give you a bit of a tour.
This host offers accommodation and payment.
English, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian.
Accommodation depends on the time of year. We have a caravan that sleeps 2 in double beds, with no bathroom, but plenty of storage, and a horse lorry conversion with a bedroom at the back of the reception, and no bathroom. It has a double bed. Mattresses are futon or air mattress.
We will provide all your meals and are happy to accommodate all dietry requirements we possibly can (some stuff is hard to get in the Highlands). We will adjust our Qualitarian diet (we try to only eat meat that has had a good quality of life until we can be totally self sufficient) to suit vegetarians, pescatarians, and vegans as we see this as part of the cultural exchange. We are generally vegetarian a few nights a week. Breakfast is usually self service in the kitchen or your accommodation, lunch is something quick and light like a sandwich, or cheese and biscuits or soup, and dinner is usually around 5pm and will be the main meal of the day. Typical meals include a roast and veg, lentil curry, cauliflower/pasta and cheese, pizza, home made burgers, bean chilli, pies, casseroles. It's all cooked fresh unless it's a very busy day and we are too tired to cook.
We are on the NC500 in an area full of 5000 years of human history. It has inspired great authors such as JK Rowling, Tolkien, George RR Martin and more. We are very rural in a crofting community in The Kyle of Sutherland. The
NC500 is the number 2 touring route in the world after route 66 and Scotland is the Rough Guide winner of most beautiful country in the world. We are on the East coast but only 45 mins from the West. Beaches, whisky, hill walking, food, crafts, photography opportunities are in abundance. The village is 2 miles away and has shops, library, gym, creperie, cafe, chemist, butchers, and post office, bus stops. One more mile takes you to the train station.
If you have no transport you are in the middle of some amazing places to walk and enjoy the environment. You can borrow our mountain bikes and use the trails in the woods next door, borrow our kayaks and go on Loch Migdale or in the North Sea, and you can join us climbing, and hill walking.
We will endeavour to get you out to everywhere we go as much as possible so that you see each town and village, as many beaches as we can get you on, and sample all kinds of local foods. We will give you lifts when we can; at the very least to public transport links (bus and train).
We will be adopting you into our "clan" for the duration of your stay. We want you to enjoy the Highlands and our hospitality and will do our very best to make your stay with us fondly memorable. We look forward to hearing from you!
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week