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



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    within 2 days

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  • Description


    The property is a smallish old stone farmhouse, a 2nd very small stone house & an even smaller stone house
    (a bit like house 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 my sons 27, 24 & 22
    8 dogs, 6 horses, 2 barn cats & 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 26y he is the main help around the farm & joint carer for his brother, my 24y 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 stubbourn.
    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!!!!!).

    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 want to make an organic worm composting site, the building of the wormery & then putting in the layes 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!

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

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

  • 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, the only other ridable are my mare, a small pony & a small mule - (who needs training), I may get another ridden horse if another rescue comes up.
    * i have many years experience with rescue horses, i can teach the basic idea of join up & horse comunication.

    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,

    the village is 1.7 kilometres 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, i will get the timetable, generally there are busses linking towns & some larger villages. I don't mind dropping off & picking up from bus stops, even if not our local one within reason. we have a few bicycles, not wonderfull condition but if you want to borrow you can.

  • 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
    German: Beginner
    French: Beginner
    Italian: Beginner
    Japanese: Beginner

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

  • Accommodation


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

    minimum is a folding bed in a curtain off area in my sons shared upstairs flat or my 3rd son's room if he is away.
    Their flat has its own shower room.

    There is a tiny loft room (there WILL BE once its done) it shares shower room use with either a downstairs bathroom or the one in my sons flat.
    A 2 x SINGLE berth caravan over near the barn, it has electricity, its own washroom & loo. I used it to live in while we did early renovating.

    When they are ready we will have 2 small houses to use. Probably not til late 2020. theses 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, the guys with the digger couldn't bring it. once its done it should be nice,

    imagine....choose tree shady or full sun whatever suits you, peace quiet, birds singing.. AHhhhh!.... then get it ruined by being pestered by ANY OR ALL OF OUR DOGS wanting a ball throwing, trying to get on your knee, sit by your feet or generally requesting to be fussed.

    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, 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?

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    Anyone interested i must insist :-
    THEY ARE CAREFULL WHERE THEY SMOKE, i am asthmatic. i am ok with someone taking a smoke outside either on the terrace or 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 reccuring 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 accomodate 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 above while on his bicycle, if he 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 & 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

  • 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

View across the valley
The big old horse Jaco & friends
JACO 17 HH 23y old doing a pose
One of the fields
the main house, before WW2 the single storey end was full height.
my riding horse, she is a french camargue
the big old boy, 17hh Jaco
some of the others
the smaller stone house for renovation.
all friends together

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Accuracy of profile: (4.7)

Cultural exchange: (4.7)

Communication: (5.0)

Host ref number: 534749829553