We are Bob and Xene, artists in Iowa. We live in an art installation space that Bob has created over the course of the last 20 years from old, dismantled barns and other found and repurposed items. Firmly in the 'Outsider Art' category, the buildings and yard are a statement about excess in America but also speak to the ingenuity of repurposing and finding abundance in what comes our way. We share our space with the intent of helping people see an alternative to normal societal structure and expectations. Last year we built a wood-fired pizza oven to facilitate communal meals and this year we are experimenting with roasting all sorts of vegetables in it with absolutely delicious results! We seek to share our space and garden abundance with others of high vibrational frequency while leaving behind as low of an environmental impact as possible.
Our list of projects is long and extensive, but we take a very casual approach to work, going with the flow and never against it. We have recently acquired an old school bus that we would like to transform into a seasonal tiny home, and we have a 1974 mobile home in severe need of a makeover. Both of us are exceptionally handy, but we have not tackled jobs like this before, so we will learn alongside each other as we go. Our focus is on building community and creating an oasis where those seeking to escape 'normal' society can find internal joy.
There is no air conditioning here and summers in Iowa can be brutal, but we love to celebrate a job well-done and will often take off for a day of kayaking if the heat makes working impossible. It is pretty common for us to work early mornings or evenings to get to the celebration point in the height of summer. You would be included in our adventures if that appeals to you. We live a very simple life attune to nature and do not fight it if it gets too hot, we simply accept what is and make the most of it the best way we know how.
There is always a steady flow of friends, old and new, coming and going who help out and who love to share meals. Throughout the summer there is rarely a dull moment around the Barnyard.
Help with Eco Projects
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help with Computers/ Internet
Our place is unique in every possible way. We reject the narrative of society and live very much with the cycles of nature. In everything we do we hope to be an example of stewards of the land and a place of peace and joy to others. Visitors will find the journey up the lane changes them and setting foot on the property seems to suck the worries and woes of life right out of your very being. There are so many things to look at that even with a year or more of staying here, it would be impossible to absorb it all.
In addition to the art installation space, we have a private beach on the Wapsipinicon river directly across from the state park where we often enjoy the sunsets with a beverage and friends. There are forested trails to explore and a plethora of wild mushrooms to pick and eat after a good rain.
The most important project on our list is a new bathroom and tiny house build. The foundations are poured, septic hookups in place, electric and water run, and we will be building walls as our first project of the season. This project is planned to be an ICF concrete building housing three bathrooms with showers.
We have a tiny house structure to build out next to the bathroom building, a 1974 mobile home that we hope to convert to a communal kitchen, and a Blue Bird school bus to transform into a seasonal vacation/workaway sleeping space. (Super cool and potentially very educational projects to accomplish!)
We have trails that need clearing, steps to build out steep hiking trails, and next winter's wood that needs splitting.
Gardening is another task we could use help with, everything from planting, to canning, along with terracing and creating new garden plots. We seek to create communal space and hope to produce food enough to sell at markets in years to come.
You would not need a specific skill set, but if you have one, we will shift into that project to utilize your expertise while you are here.
This host offers a language exchange
We would love to help those seeking to improve their English, and while we have no background in other languages, sharing songs in other languages sounds fun.
Sharing food is a vital part of creating connection and my personal artistic expression. We will offer one shared meal a day, usually in the late afternoon. You would have access to a refrigerator for keeping your own food cold if needed, and there are several propane cook stoves on the property that could be used. There is a wood-fired pizza oven and communal outdoor kitchen area that we utilize with friends as often as possible through the summer months. Most of our food is vegetarian, some vegan, but very rarely do we ever eat meat ourselves. The pizza oven is often kept burning for weeks on end, and with help maintaining the fire, would be available every day for cooking.
Our current accommodations are a bit rustic, as we have only one or two open spaces for sleeping. The bedding would be clean, and the living quarters dry, but there is no running water or toilets inside the space. Friends actually love to stay in our outbuildings, as they are super creative, but they are not for those who might be uptight about random bugs or dust. Nomads, van life, and folks willing to camp will have as much privacy as they like on our land if you come to stay, as we have plenty of space to share over 20 acres.
We have one flushing toilet available and several porta-potties on the land. There is well water, tested and of excellent quality for drinking but the only shower we have to share is solar. We do have a portable propane on-demand water heater and with help, could set that up for use until the bathroom project is complete.
We are 0.7 miles from the nearest grocery store and even closer to the downtown of our small town, so food and beverages are easy to retrieve when needed.
Our small town is dotted with small shops and is in the process of a grant-driven facade makeover. The typical activity in the area is drinking, but we do not participate in that local scene. We bring musicians and friends to our space with the intention of creating an alternative cultural exchange. There is a beautiful state park directly across the river from our place and a walking bridge down the road from us provides easy access to the park. Biking is a challenge as the terrain here is very hilly, but it can be done with some effort. We have electric bikes to make getting around in town easier. There are some beautiful, secluded park areas here that are favorites of ours and we would be happy to direct you to them should you desire to leave the property. Most people that visit however, hate leaving once they get here.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
We have a reliable wifi connection and can provide access to those that need to use it. Digital nomads are certainly welcome and we would embrace the idea of creating videos about the projects we are doing. We are currently seeking a videographer for this purpose.
We have plenty of space for campervans in our space, but we cannot provide electrical hookups. Motorhomes and buses would be more of a challenge due to their weight and size, but we could discuss it with those who are interested in a stay.
Large dogs would need to be very well behaved. We have no fences to contain animals and picking up after your animal would need to be taken very seriously. We have a 9-year-old Scottie with excellent social skills and pups that fight with Willow would be a problem, but she it tolerant of most dogs and will put them in their place if she feels threatened. Dogs that can just hang out and chill are certainly welcome. During events, we may ask that dogs be kept from the main village area.
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week