Looking for some extra hands with animal chores, gardening, horse riding, and farm maintenence in Illinois, USA

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United States

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    Last activity

    12/09/2019

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  2019 

 Min stay requested: at least a week

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  • Description

    Description

    We are a couple in our early 30s with two sons born October 2015, and February 2017. We also have 20+ farm, pet, or occasionally exotic animals depending on our current resources. We have recently purchased a tiny old 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 living with us that we acquire from many different sources. Our semi-permanent residents include a variety of outdoor poultry, 3 dogs, 3 horses, 1 donkey, 1 camel, 1 llama, 2 goats, and an unknown number of farm cats. When we can we also pick up abused and neglected exotics and large animals to rehabilitate and re-home, although we have cut back considerably to have time for two toddlers 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 recently 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!

  • Type of help

    Type of help

    Gardening
    Building
    General Maintenance
    Cooking / shopping
    Farmstay
    Help in the house
    Animal care

  • 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 riding basics. In addition, there is opportunity to participate in care and maintenance of an older house and the property of a small hobby farm. 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 we'd be happy to teach you if you tell us what you are hoping to learn. Also, if you are a good cook, we can probably teach you to be a bad cook! Just kidding ;) We will try to treat you like one of the family and you are welcome to join us on any activities that we do while you are visiting. We feel you'll get as much out of your time here as you put into it :)

  • Help

    Help

    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. Tasks vary greatly based on season and our current finances. We don't have barns or stalls to clean, but we have been slowly adding sheds and pastures as we can afford them in the spring summer and fall (April through October). In winter our big projects are indoor maintenance/cleaning. We don't go outside much due to high winds and below freezing temperatures so there are not many opportunities for farm and animal tasks from December to March, although of course we still do daily feed and water. In the spring and summer, mowing and weed control always needs to be done, as well as any outdoor construction.

    We don't have any horses that ride out alone and most area trails are closed during spring and a week or so after a rain, so when we work with them we do pasture riding, groundwork, gaited training, etc. in the pasture and in the road alongside the house. Our past volunteers have helped with farm maintenance, general house and farm cleaning, grooming horses as weather permitted, working with dogs (obedience), completing basic feeding and watering for farm critters, and generally hanging out/spending time with the rest of the critters so they get a little more attention. Sometimes we join in but a lot of times we're busy with work or children, so volunteers are on their own.

    Everyday projects regardless of weather include the above animal chores, training, exercising, healthcare, etc depending on what animals we currently have and also mowing, weeding, and indoor cleaning/maintenance tasks. Also, when we have people who are comfortable around children, we are very grateful to have someone play with the boys and they enjoy the change in company! We will never expect you to babysit the children when we leave or for long periods of time, we are always around if they are around. Some projects are hard for one person to do alone and others are just much more fun with company, so we're looking for some extra hands with both projects and daily tasks! Since we both work full time and have two young children, our ideal person(s) could be self motivated and able to work independently much of the time.

    The amount of help every day would vary based on current projects, so please contact us for more information during specific times. We don't have a set amount of hours or work we "require" you to do, it is mostly self paced. Some people take 1 hour for a job that takes another person 4 hours, and that is okay. However, we DO expect you to be able to work independently and be able to complete projects when we are not here. Please do not come if you are not self-motivated or are unable to do this type of work. Previous animal experience is not required but you must be open to learn and have a tolerance for animals of all types :)

  • Languages spoken

    Languages spoken

    English

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation

    The house is a small farm house built in 1914 as a two 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 bedroom upstairs if you are traveling with a friend.

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

    As far as living with us goes, we always have indoor dogs and occasionally other indoor animals, so we cannot have people with uncontrolled allergies and if you smoke, you will not be able to smoke inside. Also, we love our animals but we have become used to the mess, smell, chewed item, and sometimes LOUD outbursts that they can make. So, basically we are asking you to please be open to living with animals in the house before you stay here!

    We are also not good cooks and don't have any special diets ourselves, but we are very willing to try new dishes or to accommodate special diets if you are willing to teach us! We often cook our evening meal but other meals will be up to you to prepare for yourself (we will supply food and the kitchen is shared).

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    We live in farm country, several miles (about a 2hr walk) from the nearest town which has less than 200 people. 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) so there is no public transportation.

    However, we can take you to nearby towns for train or bus access 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 if you are interested in visiting them.

    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

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 5 hours a day, 5 days a week

Reassuring his llama, who is learning to wear a halter.
Just the people in our family, summer 2019
Spring chicks
Shared kitchen/dining room
The boys hard at work "helping" on a summer project
The four of us at a renaissance faire with friends in summer 2017.
Ground driving lessons at a camel clinic
After weeding one of the flower beds.. we don't do this nearly often enough.
Indoor work, repairing ceiling to floor in the den.
The front of the house. Don't let the trees fool you, this is flat, open farm country!
Our family with a few of our critters 2016
Some fun in the creek on a camping trip
One of the upstairs guest rooms - it has a half ceiling over the bed, the rest is full ceiling. Our former foster bird is trying to make the bed but he's not very good at it :)
A ride through the front yard when the crops are down
Two of our dogs, very friendly but not excited about hats.
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