Burgeoning artsy homestead includes petting donkeys in rural Tennessee


United States

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    within 6 days

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 Min stay requested: at least 2 weeks

  • Description


    HI, I'm Val! I've really enjoyed hosting work-awayers starting summer of 2019. My dream of building a unique community where people cross my path is coming to fruition in this sharing economy. It's nice to have company, so I invite you to join me if only briefly to my small oasis in rural Tennessee. I work from home on 17 acres and would love some assistance in the garden and around the property to alleviate me of some time as I try to start earning an income in my new journey. This is the first time I've ever lived in the rural countryside and in June 2020 marked a year full time after finding the property 6 years ago. If it's relevant, know that I vote democratic and believe in policies that support the environment, people/health, animal welfare, etc.

    During the pandemic, I became certified as a Forest Therapy guide and am eager to learn from others who have herbal and gardening skills. I'm almost completed with my Tennessee Naturalist program, but I'm only a novice. I walked away from a career and went all in with a total of 17 acres bordering a lazy river and have donkeys (standards and minis), chickens, cats that help with rodents or to sit on laps, peacocks, a pet rabbit, and a tripod Pyrenees guard dog that loves people.

    Why this new life?
    After more than 2 decades of being a professor, I walked away from tenure in 2018 to forge an unpaved path with a focus on finding JOY and living a creative life closer to nature. It started in 2015 when I found this property in rural Tennessee about 90 miles drive to Nashville and started developing the space from interior to exterior on the down-low without my University knowing I was planning on leaving.

    Who knows when life will feel really normal again in Covid times, but I once was an avid traveler. I enjoy staying home now. However, over the last decade or so, I've had the ability to travel extensively and really want to meet other travelers in this new chapter of my life. During my travels, I often stay at hostels or guest houses and used that as inspiration for setting up this space (ask me about the bigger goal and I'll send you the website). I've been to Japan 7 times now for work including a travel photo project. I've also been to Copenhagen, Dublin and a road trip in Ireland, whitewater rafting in Costa Rica, a conference in Sydney, a few visits to Barcelona and one to the south of Spain, London, a month in Egypt for a work Fulbright-Hayes group project (mostly Cairo and Alexandria during the summer of the Arab Spring), Italy, and a road trip in Europe with my mom a long time ago. I have been to many states either as road trips or attending conferences.

    Please be aware that I'm not online regularly so if I don't respond immediately it's because I'm probably outside or immersed in some other work challenges, but I promise to get back to you.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Art Projects
    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Animal Care
    Farmstay help
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    This part of Tennessee is really lovely. I am willing to offer an exchange of design lessons or pottery lessons or access to the pottery equipment with more contribution such as helping to organize and keep the space tidy.

    It's probably best if you have your own transportation if you want to get off the property.

    A bit about the property and cultural exchange. I am new to this area - only been here full time since June 2019, but owned it since 2016. The town I spend more time in is called Hohenwald which is German meaning High Forest. I'm in Lewis County in the foothills of Appalachia and what's called the Western Highland Rim. It's truly a hidden gem of rolling hills with many trees. Timber and logging land is a large part of the immediate region.

    My property is on the Buffalo River where there is a swimming hole. A 5-10 minute drive to a drop in is a 3-5 hour kayak on the river. (I still haven't had a chance to do this because of how busy I've been and the need for 2 cars.) There are nature parks including the historic Natchez Trace Parkway nearby. Nashville is just under 2 hours and Memphis is 3 hrs. Columbia TN and Florence AL are about an hour. Lots of little towns and even thrifting/antiquing in this area. With planning and the right people I can offer transport to/from the Nashville airport.

  • Help


    I'm seeking someone interested in a month long stay to help me this fall with my garden and some other projects with my donkey habitat. A cancellation from other workawayers has me in a bit of an urgent search for just the right calm energy in the space that will have a fireplace going as much as possible in the fall. The projects listed below are things I would like to do before November.

    I have really enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people and see my world transformed with the talents of others. Due to experiences throughout 2020 with covid affecting our lives, I've been able to assess better the type of interaction and time required when hosting wonderful people. My property is 20 minutes from any town and obviously in the country provides lots of fresh air.

    Artist/Writers and other creative types - you'll love it here and encouraged to leave a creative mark. Gardeners with green thumbs - you'll love it here. Outdoor enthusiasts - you'll love it here with the forest, the river, and the nearby trails. Someone who is handy, may even have your own tools, an eye for organization, and a self-motivation to accomplish tasks - it would be really great to meet you.

    Those with pet allergies or smokers won't be accepted.
    Daily routine typical to help out an average of 4 hrs a day, but schedule is suited to your best workflow and the weather. Some workawayers have fallen into a great schedule for them working in the mornings and after lunch go on hikes, while others have been so amazing they spend most of their days active (even if it means chilling in a hammock with the dog or socializing the donkeys or painting a mural or collecting and painting rocks, etc.).

    Each hosting situation has been organic in a way that each person's skill set and interests has been how we figure out what gets accomplished and I'm so grateful for each person's contribution at the time they have been able to spend from a few days to a few months.

    Gardening and landscape assistance. ... I am trying to move from a raised bed garden to containers and a small greenhouse experiment for the winter. It rains a lot in Tennessee so weeds are the nemisis. Discovering there are good weeds though. Someone with permaculture background or herbal knowledge would be lovely to learn from. I'll take you on a Forest Therapy walk for the gratitude of your wisdom.

    Socializing (with) animals. Donkeys - 12 donkeys including one foal board mid June. There is a routine that I love and manage with them, but being their friends is great.

    Donkey habitat help. Before winter, I would like to have some help with rearranging some fencing, transporting manure which is also a garden compost component.

    I have a bamboo grove and a pond that is almost finished. I need some extra hands to help make this space nicer which is at minimum helping me with rearranging some fencing and start using bamboo decoratively.

    If you have a creative flair, know that I am setting up an art studio with pottery equipment. If you would like to have a chance to express yourself in a creative way or learn clay, I'm interested in chatting more. Additional possibilities for the creatives that may read this -
    - paint a small mural?
    - help with developing art installations or small signs?
    - help keeping the pottery studio clean and organized in exchange for using the kilns (electricity)

    SPECIALIZED ASSISTANCE for longer term stays and those who know power tools, I have some dream projects that I can tell you about.

    Depending on the amount of work you contribute and how long you stay, I can possibly assist with food basics like bread, rice, pasta, vegetables, pizzas which I would negotiate on a case by case basis. Let's discuss. I'm gluten free, corn free, mostly dairy free, and an occasional vegetarian. When the garden is growing we can eat those goodies. If you like to cook and want to help out, I can contribute to ingredients there too.

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    English: Fluent
    Spanish: Intermediate
    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.
    You can contact them directly for more information.

  • Accommodation


    Your room is an ensuite. It has a queen and a bunk. You have your own bathroom and help keep some shade indoor plants alive in there.

    This is a home office situation so I work at a computer in one of two rooms so occasionally I need to be on calls with clients. We share living space and kitchen. I do have a TV and internet. I do have satellite internet that has a data limit, but when the limit is hit the internet still works great during the day. Broadband will be here in the coming months. Until then, please be mindful of streaming video especially facetime and HD on youtube or other services. Lower the settings and it should be okay. For some reason, newer Iphones have some settings that really drain data so we would need to be vigilant on making sure wifi is turned off during sleep or while being active outside. Working on a second internet system that may be unlimited so cross our fingers it's soon!

    Overflow space or room option for those with a pet would be in another house used as an artist residency fully furnished home. This is dependent on the calendar. But is also a primary option so we all have our distance.

    Due to lack of income that is exacerbated by Covid19, I can host, but cannot provide food beyond what's happening in the garden and possibly basics like what I've mentioned above. The nearest towns are 25 minutes drive in each direction so I don't go grocery shopping very often. A better grocery store is about 40 minute drive.

    You can go for walks on the property, swim in the river, or borrow the kayaks (seasonal). Or we can kayak together because it means there is help in driving from the camp to the drop in spot.

    ask me more questions. thanks. I just had a cancellation I was expecting to have help for months. So I'm eagerly checking messages if someone is randomly ready to hit the road. Thanks.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    NO SMOKING including Vaping!! limited use of alcohol or none preferred. No drugs. No Fox TV :(

  • 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

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    Depending on the time scheduled, there may be a parking area available. The primary spot is a flat rv pad near an electric and water hookup. Another spot is level but does not have hookup. Generator is okay. I would love to host a campervan workawayer for 2021 May - October - let's chat!

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected

    3-4 hrs per day depending on length of stay. 5 days/week. negotiable.

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Accuracy of profile: (4.9)

Cultural exchange: (4.8)

Communication: (5.0)

Host ref number: 581129454588