We live within sight of the sea in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where our 17th century farmhouse is home to Piers, Sue, three young people aged 18-21 (two are away at university), two house cats and a small, very friendly dog.
We moved here seven years ago and have established a multi-award-winning business running stylish, comfortable self-catering holiday cottages, alongside a productive smallholding with rare-breed farm animals.
This is a great opportunity for people who are keen to stay in a family environment and learn stuff about country living.
We like having visitors, and invite them to eat all meals with us in the comfortable farmhouse kitchen. We like our guests to be able experience the best of the ingredients we grow ourselves and those that our region has to offer. We serve a diverse range of foods, including our own lamb, pork and bacon (Piers makes his own). Meals are important social occasions, so being an adaptable and enthusiastic eater is essential for a stay here! Foreign language speakers are very welcome, and we can help with improving your English - French, Italian and German are all spoken fluently here, also some Spanish. (We voted to remain in the European Union.) Sue is a painter, while Piers and our children are musicians. We have a decent piano and a selection of other instruments.
We are happy to let you help with feeding and handling animals if you want to learn. But please don't picture yourself hands-on with animals all day - pigs, sheep, chickens and ducks mostly look after themselves. Even so, there is lots of spare-time animal stuff to take advantage of if you want to, as all of our animals are friendly - the sheep will come over for a pat, there are usually lambs and piglets to watch playing; the dog loves fuss (and walks!); the cats love a lap to sit on.
The horses are Sue's hobby and, if you are keen, she may let you help with them in your spare time. The pony is small and is no longer ridden; while Sue's (large, fit) competition horse would not be suitable for a novice. However, they are both safe to handle, and we are happy to show you how to groom them, tack them up etc. And, if Sue is going out in the horse lorry training or to a competition, she is always glad of company.
We don't use workaway help for the routine cleaning and maintenance of the holiday cottages - we have permanent local staff for that. Instead, you help with jobs around the farmstead, mainly gardening and painting. We keep chickens and ducks, a few pigs and a small flock of sheep, a dressage horse and a (retired) pony, which means you should also be willing to assist with cleaning out the animal housing if required.
We expect about 25 hours of work in return for a week of bed and full board. Most people have preferred to work mornings, leaving them with the afternoons to hang out and do their own thing, go exploring, or whatever. You must be ready to work on your own some of the time; we don't ask you to do anything we aren't willing to do ourselves.
Digging, weeding and mucking-out is hard work, so we need people who are reasonably fit and strong. You should bring your own outdoor clothes, some of which need to be warm (even in summer). We have a selection of rubber boots, but you need your own stout shoes and almost certainly a waterproof! We sometimes have to work outside when it is raining and you must not mind getting dirty.
Unlike some hosts, we don't use volunteers as a way to run our day-to-day business, but take them for short periods when we have a specific job that needs doing. In really busy years in the past, we had about five placements - last year, we had three, and so far this year only one. We're a small operation and our helpers are often assisting with stuff that we have to slot in alongside many other commitments - maybe a new gardening project, some weeding that has got out of hand or some decorating. We plan how we are going to use the help and try our best to give peole a good time while they are here - this involves working alongside them, being hospitable, including them in any social plans and helping them to make the most of a visit to our area. Consequently, we aren't able to take people for extended stays. Our optimum stay length is two - very occasionally, three - weeks.
French, German, Italian, some Spanish
Workawayers stay with us in the main farmhouse, in a cosy, clean guest room. There is unrestricted internet access, and you can have your own TV if you like to watch. You won't need a sleeping bag - the bed will be freshly made-up with sheets and a duvet. When we have no-one else staying, you get the room with the double bed, and a shower room to yourself. If we have other visitors (Sue's elderly parents for example), we ask the workawayer to move into the adjacent single room and share the shower room for a couple of days. We provide towels, and there is always soap and shampoo. The only other thing you might want to bring is a pair of soft shoes or slippers to wear around the house (we have stone floors downstairs).
In your free time, you may like to explore the coast and country around the farm, which is well worth the effort. This part of South Devon is an enormously popular tourist destination from Easter to October, when it earns its reputation as the sunniest part of England. There are beautiful walks through the lanes and along clifftops - sometimes we are free to go with you, and when we can't go - or if you just want to go alone - we have good maps to lend you. Jack, our miniature poodle, enjoys a good walk. There is also a bicycle you could borrow. There are shingle beaches in easy walking distance and secluded sandy coves you could cycle to.
The wider area of South Devon has many sights and attractions; it's worth spending a bit of time finding out about the area online or in guide books. The sailing port of Dartmouth is about 15km and the market town of Kingsbridge is about 8km. If we are going anywhere interesting by car, we can usually give you a lift. In addition, local public transport provides better opportunities for independent travel than in many rural areas. A regular bus service from Chillington (1.5km) runs to Kingsbridge and all the villages in between. From Kingsbridge, the same bus goes directly through to Plymouth, which is our nearest city. Totnes, the administrative centre of this part of Devon, is about 25 km and can also be reached by bus via Kingsbridge. Totnes is an interesting and slightly alternative place that has a direct rail link to Cornwall, or London and beyond.
We are new to Workaway, but have seven years of experience hosting people through other work exchange channels. We like them to have a good time and try our best to make this a high value experience for both parties. We offer just a few spaces each year but, if you are hard-working, adaptable and practical, we would love to host you.
We like the first contact to be written - i.e e-mail, not phone call or text. And please make it a personal e-mail that shows you have read and thought about our profile!
We have a positive and welcoming attitude towards young people and we appreciate that everyone starts with little experience. However, we expect your application to provide evidence that you are able to make a useful work contribution in return for our hospitality. You need to tell us about things you have done that show you are hard-working and quick to learn at practical jobs like painting, gardening, building or farming. Please support your application with at least one reference (recommendation) from someone you have worked for - possibly a previous work exchange host, perhaps a current or past employer, or even a teacher from school or university.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week