Help & learn ancient & modern DIY, HORSE RIDING, animal care (mostly horses), and gardening in small old stone farm in Mayenne, France




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 Min stay requested: at least a week

  • Description



    PLEASE NOTE I am nowhere near Paris!....... NOT near Mont St Michele or near the sea.... that stops 50% ...still reading?
    google FOUGEROLLES du PLESSIS 53190 that is where we are,

    The main attraction of here are the horses, i like to ride but i should not ride alone because of my health issues so i invite waw who can ride to accompany me on the trails & roads around here.

    The farm is a building site it's not pretty, we do what we can, when we can, with what we have, depending on the weather, its a messy chaos because it's a work in progress with building stuff, stored furniture & piles of broken, damaged & other junk waiting a chance to be taken to the dump,house work gets done mostly when its raining, if you can't handle this pass by.
    despite saying so some waw just don't get it so i say again... IT IS A MESS so don't complain you were not warned ok?

    you still reading? well done!

    i must insist any workaways follow current covid advise...whatever it is this week!!!
    the ONLY accomodation i have to offer at the moment are 2 small caravans, we have moved them inside the big horse barn to give more shelter from the weather ( hot or cold!), i lived in one of the caravan alone through oct 2019 to march 2020 but if you are not as tough as an old disabled woman then pass on by!

    i can now collect workaways in my car from the bus or train (i had my 2nd vaccine) we are about 12km from the nearest,.

    *quarantine, because of the need for this i will not accept stays less than 1 week + quarantine time however long it is.

    The property is a smallish old stone farmhouse, a 2nd very small stone house & an even smaller stone house
    (a bit like a house version of Russian dolls!)
    Plus stone barns, stables, huge cow shed + 2 hectares of land some with fruit trees,

    Mayenne dept 53 is in the north of the loire valley area. WE ARE NOT NEAR PARIS i was told the workaway map shows we are, by car its about 2.5 - 3 hours but by train + bus its 4+ hours.

    "we" are my sons 28, 25 & 23 my youngest is away at uni.
    8 dogs, 7 horses, 5 barn cats, 13 hens & me, I am a late 50's semi disabled woman.
    my sons speak french as they went to school here, my french is rubbish.

    my younger son is at uni doing languages he is going for a masters in french and italian, he has basic school german & some japanese, due to lockdown disrupting his studies he may stay in uni area for summer to catch up & deal with the eternal french paperwork of reinscribing.

    my eldest son 28y he is the main help around the farm & joint carer for his brother, my 25y old son is autistic, he is not incapable of helping he just needs things explaining in simple steps & he can be sensitive emotionally,

    i have a degenerative spinal condition & arthritis - just my bad luck, thats why my sons & I need some bodies to help out;
    most people think i am nuts as with my health the doctors didn't expect me to still be walking but lets just say I am stubborn.
    in the winter my sons have to do a lot of the animal care heavy work, so in summer we have workaways, my sons get a break & the workaways get a visit.... everyone wins!

    the house is an old stone farmhouse, it had not been lived in for years, it needs a lot of work - at some time in WW2 it would seem it suffered artillery damage, most likely from the liberating American forces, i am researching this - the walls at the low end show signs of past extensive damage & the original quickie repair now needs re doing, i don't expect workaways to be free builders, i get in the real thing for the technical stuff - we are happy to let workaways 'have a go' at things depends on the job & the workawayer..

    I know how to do a lot of the repairs, but physically i can't.. so i can teach workaways to do simple carpentry & to point stone walls with traditional lime based mortar & some other skills.

    workawayers are asked to help sort the gardens, pick the fruit in season & do minor DIY, on any animal farm there is always the eternal fence repairs & the dreaded HOUSEWORK (AaaaRrrrrGggggg run away!!!!!).

    A lot of the projects have been put on hold, lack of help, bad weather & low funds, we do what we can, with what we have, when we can!......

    with help we want to make horse stables inside the big barn, my herd has some old horses who need feeds & some medications different to the others so i need to have somewhere to separate them while they eat,

    we are creating a wildlife /duck pond from what was the dairy farm slurry pit, we are making a small field into a camping area for tents or small caravans, it looks out over farm fields when the maize is not too high the views are beautiful! to provide a toilet & shower we are converting a small building on the end of the house,

    # many thanks to workaway Nicola who did a lot of the pointing on the 1 stone wall in this building - her being tall was very useful, she learned the skill very quickly, between us we also repaired a small natural pond, slightly enlarged it to provide a drinking water place for the horses & wildlife, plus my dogs like to play in it.

    we hope to make a safe walking path with seats to
    nature & some exercise /fitness equipment all winding around the lower field, once done it should give a nice stroll while remaining on my land away from roads & other people.

    we want to make an organic worm composting site, the building of the wormery & then putting in the layers of material & horse muck & worms, then maintaining it, later to harvest the worms to sell on either as fishing bait or garden soil helpers & collect up the compost & liquid feed to use or sell on.

    we will be starting a vegetable garden soon.

    so you can see its a lot for 2 sons & a fossil to do!

    MY THANK YOU LIST 2021 ;-

    Nicola -
    wall pointing, pond repairs, riding out,horse care, helping design & make a protective head guard for my blind dog.
    Juan - helped dig out the ground & begin laying new concrete & helped paint the ceiling for the new outside shower & toilet room,

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Language practice
    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Animal Care
    Farmstay help
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    they can practice their french or learn a little, get as fit as they want to by walking the dogs or riding a cycle or jogging or how they like,
    learn some DIY skills, *learn about horses, take a horse ride, maybe ride out, it depends on their weight & skill level I have 1 BIG old horse he worked 20y in a riding school so he knows his job, he is in semi retirement now, i was recently given a cob mare, her ex owner tells me she is nice to ride, she is capable of carrying a man, the only other ridable are my mare, a very small very old pony & a small mule - (who needs training),
    * i have many years experience with rescue horses, i can teach the basic idea of join up & horse communication. my little old pony is the one for this, i cannot guarantee riding, it depends on if the horses are ok - 1 was sick recently & another got an injury, both ok now plus the unreliability of the weather, we had almost 20 days of constant storms & rain in May 2021

    we speak english in the house and have english freesat TV and books, so the main language we usually use is english, we do also speak french & have french DVDs and a french keyboard, the area is good for tourist attractions, and there are local markets, bars etc where the workaway can practice their french,
    #my youngest son also speaks italian & german but he is away at uni & may not be back home this summer.

    the village is 1.7 kilometers away, it has several lakes, lots of walks etc, a sports ground, library, bars, restaurants, post office, bank, doctors, pharmacy, supermarket etc & there is a **bus stop, , generally there are bus linking towns & some larger villages.. we have a few bicycles, not wonderful condition but if you want to borrow you can.
    ** i have no idea on any bus timetable at the moment.

  • Help


    Mum (me) i adore my animals & detest housework, to me it rates with death & taxes as unavoidable but i don't have to like it!
    if i can be doing anything else i will, but it has to be done somehow.

    the land is not big but there is still loads needed to do & never enough hours a day to do it,

    But its not a boot camp, you are on a working holiday with the emphasis on holiday, we usually find time to have a few outings & if get some extra work done with your help then we are all happy!

    HOW I WORK IT IS :- YOU do an AVERAGE of 4 hours a day if you want to do all morning & do your own stuff later or work evenings with time to yourself in the day thats fine just so long as I know

    if you want extra days off to go exploring then work a few extra hours on other days,
    meals are included except when you are away for the day, but i don't mind if you take a sandwich away with you & if you want to come back late at night thats fine - just be quiet ok?

    if you don't like helping with house work or farm work or getting dirty, or dog hairs etc don't pick us,

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    English: Fluent
    French: Fluent

    This host offers a language exchange
    ONLY my youngest son speaks english, italian, german, he is away at uni & may not be home, my other sons speak english & french they went to school in france, my french is very bad,

  • Accommodation


    depending on if our mix of workaways is mixed sex, couples, families, the workaway accom varies,

    A modern SMALL 2 x SINGLE berth caravan over in the horse barn, it has electricity, its own washroom & loo. I used it to live in while we did early renovating.
    an older SMALL 2 x single bed caravan - not as nice, it can have a chemical toilet & it does have a washroom, its a last resort really, IF STAYING IN A CARAVAN YOU ARE WELCOME TO USE THE HOUSE SHOWER & once its finished the new toilet & shower building.

    When they are ready we will have 2 small houses to use. Probably not til late 2021. these are the main 'learn DIY' projects.

    if we get enough help we intend to make a small pool & a sit out & BBQ area in the garden, plans went on hold due to lockdown, once its done it should be nice, maybe not ready this year.

    a previous workaway left feedback saying i was a good cook, i wouldn't go that far, i am competant & i can cook, indian, chinese, mexican, irish & british food & do a brill pudding!, but mostly due to a limited budget meals are more along the lines of school canteen than restaurant, but well no one has starved yet ..... i can cope with vegetarian but vegan is difficult but i am learning, if you are very particular about your food i suggest you cook for yourself.

    ....BUT... i use the microwave to cook things like pasta & rice, as well as some other foods, if you are phobic about eating microwaved food & think you will grow 2 heads or get cancer from the 'radiation'.... then switch off the computer you are using, chuck away your mobile phone & avoid air travel, as all of them have more radiation than any microwave food.. get over it, get real & don't come here if you don't like it.

    i can be very flexible about visits out, if enough workawayers want to go to the same place & share fuel costs i will take them/bring them back which ever plan works out best.

    everyones washing gets done when the machine is on, put yours in the basket & i will do it when i do ours,

    sorry to be so blunt but a good friend of mine who has been a host to many workaways has had neg feedback left recently & has stopped being a host, i myself want to put off workaways who might not like it here, there is always more asking than places so if you are considering me ask questions to make sure what you get is what you expected ok?
    we are a small still scruffy farm that in places looks like & is a building site, we are not a 4 star hotel

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    Anyone interested i must insist :-
    THEY ARE CAREFUL WHERE THEY SMOKE, i would prefer they do not smoke, i am asthmatic. i am ok with someone taking a smoke outside on the drive away from all the buildings.

    i could write loads about the tourist stuff & still miss what interests you, i suggest you look on line, our village is :-
    Fougerolles du plessis 53190, dept MAYENNE

    we do have a car so i can collect/ drop off visitors from local stations or do an odd day out, or we can loan you a bicycle.

    Don't forget your health & personal insurance, you are not covered in any way on my insurance, for UK residents get the form from the post office to say you have UK national health cover or france will expect you to pay up front & claim it back - NOTE it only covers for medical expenses, not ambulance or the B&B side of hospital which can be expensive so get extra cover if you can, if you believe YOU wouldn't ever need any health insurance think again! a workaway came off his own bicycle one summer, he had minor injuries & was not badly hurt but still needed medical help & us to pick him & the damaged bike up.

    please if you have any recuring or chronic health problems/allergies do let me know, 3 times now i have had workaways go sick with conditions they suffered from regularly, i do understand sickness & i can accommodate it but i also need to know what to expect & any action needed.

    Because a friend had problems with a ** rogue workawayer I have decided to follow the advice the gendarmes gave them & ask to see a passport & take some info such as home or person to contact details, the gendarmes suggested this would be useful in case of a workawayer being injured or taken sick, like the workaway who fell into a ditch while on a bicycle, if they had been hurt badly we would have had no details to give to the hospital for example.

    **Sorry to have to ask but this rogue person was a nightmare eventually involving interpol - not allowed to travel & as you can imagine it badly upset my friends, bye

  • 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

    our internet is usually quite good, but i would suggest workaways might find it best to use it on quiet use times.

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    i am looking into doing a small campsite business so would welcome workaways who can 'test out' & advise what will work best

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    4 hours a day or some full days & some no work days arrangements to suit all

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Host ref number: 534749829553