Ride a horse, walk a camel, learn about animals, gardening, house and farm maintenence in Illinois, USA



 Min stay requested: at least 2 weeks



  • Description


    We are a couple in our 40s with three sons born October 2015, and February 2017, and November 2023. We also have 20+ farm, pet, or occasionally exotic animals that stay with us. Our permanent residents include all sizes of outdoor poultry, 2 indoor dogs, 2 horses, 2 camels, 2 goats, 1 donkey, and a fluctuating number of farm cats. We have a tiny farm house on a small plot of land and are in the process of redoing the house and property as a hobby farm (a farm where you practice your hobbies, that costs money instead of earning income).

    We have a continuously changing population of animals, as we occasionally buy and sell (mostly poultry) and we are also a "drop-off" location for abused, unwanted or neglected exotics and livestock in the community. We have animals that are used for recreation, some that are here for long term retirement, some that we breed, and some that we use for public education activities. In the past, we have taken in everything from from parrots to horses, and worked to rehabilitate and (if possible) re-home them. We used to do a lot more of this, but have cut back considerably to have time for two human children in the mix.

    In our free time we watch movies, play video games, attend medieval reenactments, paint or do leather work, travel locally and camp with our horses, and love to go trail riding when the weather is above freezing (April-October).

    Unfortunately we both work full time and can not work on our home and our animals as frequently as we would like, so we are restricted very much by time and finances. We also realized that with a house and farm we won't get to do nearly as much traveling as we wish we could, so hopefully this way we can meet new friends from around the world, work with our animals, and expand our home at the same time!

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    DIY and building projects
    Animal Care
    Farmstay help
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance
  • UN sustainability goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainability goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Travelers to our farm can learn or improve on various aspects of animal husbandry, dog obedience, and horse/camel riding basics. There is ample opportunity to learn care and maintenance of an older house and hobby farm. Esther has extensive childhood experience in living off-grid and in sustainable homesteading, and while this has led us to choose a different way of life she is still more than happy to share stories or advice. We are happy to help you improve your English if needed, and love to recommend area sightseeing and trips, or even take you on trips with us when you don't mind everyone going together. We are also rather good with leather crafts, portrait painting, costume sewing, and other crafts. Also, if you are a good cook, we can probably teach you to be a bad cook! Just kidding ;) If you tell us up front what you are hoping to learn, we will work to fit that in with what you do while you are here.

    We enjoy the "community" of living with other people, and we will try to treat you like one of the family. You are welcome to join us on any last minute family activities that we do while you are visiting; be it a trip to the zoo, family BBQ, camping with the horses or just a lazy afternoon at the creek. We feel you'll get as much out of your time here as you put into it :)

  • Projects involving children

    Projects involving children

    This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.

  • Help


    Previous animal experience is not required but volunteers must be open to learn and have a general tolerance for animals of all types and sizes :) Workawayers that enjoy some animals (but despise or are terrified of others) have had a diminished experience here. Similarly, previous child experience is not required but volunteers must have a tolerance for small children, as they may try to "help" with literally anything when we are home.

    We expect volunteers to be able to work independently (when we are not home) and to be able to complete projects with minimal assistance in a timely manner. We usually have volunteers pick the things that interest them from the current "to-do" list at the start of their stay, and then teach them how to do those projects independently. We work on projects with volunteers whenever we can, but also stay busy with school, full time jobs (both of us), and young children.

    Large projects: These vary greatly based on season and current finances. We have been slowly building sheds, pastures, fences, enclosed porches, treehouses, animal pens, etc as we can afford them in the spring summer and fall (April through November). In winter we focus on indoor maintenance/cleaning. We don't go outside much due to high winds and below freezing temperatures so there are not many opportunities for "fun" farm and animal tasks from December to March. Because of this, we don't typically host workawayers from December 1 - March 1 unless you are primarily looking for indoor cleaning type tasks.

    Everyday projects: Our past volunteers have helped with farm maintenance, general house and farm cleaning, gardening (more flowers than edibles), mowing, landscaping, training and doctoring animals, dog walking and obedience, basic feeding and watering for farm critters, cleaning pens or sheds, and generally hanging out/ grooming/ spending time with all the animals. We don't have any horses/camels that you can take out alone, so when we work with them we do pasture riding, groundwork, gaited training, etc. inside the pasture or on the road alongside the house.

    The amount of daily help varies based on current projects. We don't have a set amount of hours we "require" you to do, it is self-paced. Some people take 1 hour for a job that takes another person 4 hours, and that is ok! We are fairly laid-back as we are not running a business here. However, we DO expect you to work independently on simple projects on the days that you are staying here, even if we are not home. I wish we didn't have to add this, but it does cost us time and money to host workawayers so please do not come if you are looking for a free hotel or if you are unable / unwilling to work alone. These workawayers just don't get much out of their stay.

    That aside, we are always grateful for extra hands and truly appreciate every person that has blessed us with extra help over the years!

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    English: Fluent

    This host offers a language exchange
    This host has indicated that they are interested in sharing their own language or learning a new language.
    You can contact them directly for more information.

  • Accommodation


    We have a small farm house built in 1914 as a 2-room servant's quarters, with several rooms added on since then. Accommodations would be in the upstairs guest bedroom, and we could potentially set up a second bed if you are traveling with a friend, child, etc who you are comfortable rooming with.

    There is a small bathroom downstairs that is shared by all occupants of the house. Wifi internet is rural quality, which will not support high bandwidth activity such as live streaming. There is also a washer/dryer you are welcome to use.

    Before living with us, you should know we always have indoor dogs, indoor children, and occasionally other indoor animals so we cannot host people with uncontrolled allergies and if you smoke, you will not be able to smoke inside. Also, we love our kids and animals but we have become used to the constant mess, smell, chewed item, and LOUD outbursts that they make. Furthermore, living in an old house in the country is a guarantee of the occasional wild visitor - no matter how hard we try, our house occasionally gets mice, bugs, bats, etc. So, basically we are asking you to please be open to living with animals and children in the house before you stay here!

    We don't claim to be good cooks and don't have any special diets, but we try to always cook and share an evening meal together as a household. Other meals will be up to you to prepare for yourself (we will supply food and the kitchen is always shared). We are also willing to try new dishes if you like to cook or are willing to teach us! For those that need special diets or meal accommodations, you are welcome to pick out only what you like when we cook, or we can provide food (within reason) and you can prepare all your meals.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    We live in farm country, several miles (about a 2hr walk) from the nearest towns which have no amenities and less than 1000 residents. This area in north central USA is characterized by wide, flat corn and soybean farms as far as the eye can see. Residents in this area all have cars (we both drive approximately an hour one way to work each day) and there is no public transportation. It's wonderful for finding peaceful time alone, reading books, taking walks, or riding bikes down the country roads.

    We can drive you to the closest towns with train service (25 min drive) or bus service (55 min drive) and pick you up again at these "local" stations. We are several hours from both Chicago and St Louis, and either city makes for a good day or weekend trip with lots to see and do.

    When weather permits we also have several great parks and trails for outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, canoeing and of course horseback riding.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Can host digital nomads

    Can host digital nomads

    We have had limited success with people working a second job while they are here. Both our wifi and cell reception are poor quality, so they work best for activities that don't need much bandwidth and are not time specific such as e-mailing or document upload.

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    We have a 50V camper hookup in a grassy area near our road. We can occasionally provide a hose for water to fill a tank. We do not have any dump stations. It's included in your stay, but if your rig pulls a lot of power a donation toward the electricity bill is much appreciated :)

  • Can possibly accept pets

    Can possibly accept pets

    We might be able to accept workawayers with pets, but there are limitations. We have had both good and bad experiences with this in the past, so if you are interested in coming with your own pet let us know and we'd be happy to discuss further!

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Minimum 5 hours a day, 5 days a week

Host ref number: 124799517521

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