Ready to get away from the rat race? Want to say - for a little or longer while - good-bye to life and “civilization” as you know it? Enough courage to leave your comfort zone? Ever had a shower outdoors, in a lama pen, with a grazing (potbellied) pig watching you? And the satisfying feeling that you carried the firewood AND the water for that shower? In fact, carried in all the household water and all the firewood? Cooked on a wood stove and made meals from scratch and enjoyed them? Done dishes with rainwater or melted snow? Realized that power does not automatically come from the outlet, unlimited, and adjusted your daily routines to the sunshine and the power it created (via solar panels)? Used a composting toilet (and cleaned it, too)? And found out that it works and is not bad at all ;-) ? Had a rooster instead of an alarm clock, sort of? But never the noise of traffic or many airplanes or lawn mowers. Instead, frogs, birds, coyotes, the odd wolf, ravens overhead, and geese, always geese. Want to try out if you could live with very little internet and emails checked just, say, three times a day? Get your hands dirty in the garden? Feet dirty in the inevitable mud that comes with the rain? Dry your hair without a blow-dryer? Live without a microwave or a TV?
It can be done, it can be very satisfying, it is the lifestyle we chose when we (Gereon, 59, and Petra, 60) moved to our homestead in the woods in Northern Alberta in 2006. We built a house, very simple and still not finished, and the farm has been an ongoing project ever since. There is no running water, solar power only (with generator backup) and a wood stove (with propane camp cooker as a backup). We run a very small beekeeping operation that we are in the process of expanding. Gereon also works in town (approx. 30 km from us, with a library with high-speed internet, a nice coffeehouse, the necessary stores and other infrastructure). Petra stays at home and takes care of house and animals and yard, usually. Major shopping trips to the bigger city (Grande Prairie, population approx. 70,000, 150 km away) are undertaken when necessary or when she needs a change of scenery, at least once a month. There are occasionally concerts in the area, there are museums and other cultural options in Grande Prairie, but generally, this is not a hotspot for events, entertainment and culture. It is, however, a great location for life in sync with nature, with the weather and the seasons.
We truly enjoy this rather quiet life, but we do love visitors. When we’re not working, we like to go for long walks on our land (approx. 130 ha, with some trails pushed) and then check our wildlife camera (regular selfies from deer, moose, elk, bear, coyote, wolf etc.). Or, weather permitting, we sit by the fire pit, sometimes preparing our meal out there, sometimes just enjoying the stars or the sun and the sounds or the silence. Or read. Or talk. Or visit with friends and neighbours.
Gereon has a sawmill and cuts much of our lumber himself. In the summer, he gets very busy with the bees and the super-delicious honey they produce and that Petra sells at the local farmers’ market. He would love to get a handyman workawayer to help him with his many projects.
Petra has a spinning wheel, knits, felts and just had an introduction to weaving on a loom. She is very interested in textile crafts and arts and in basket weaving, but also in all things ecological, garden, animals, books, … She would love to welcome a practical woman with similar interests, so that there could be interesting conversations while the work got done :-)
Because of its relative remoteness and its "high-tech restrictions" we have a feeling that our place might be more suitable for those of you that are not so very young anymore. But if it sounds interesting - we'd love to hear from you!
Cooking / shopping
Help in the house
Travellers could get to know an entirely different, very simple lifestyle, very close to nature and the weather, with options for wildlife walks and watching, canoeing on the lake, possibly fishing, and a good idea of how beekeeping works. When the work is done, somebody could take it as a retreat and enjoy some personal solitude and lots of "me-time".
Update: Thanks to our workawayer, the garden has looked and still looks great this year, 2016! But for next year, there is very definitely a greenhouse on the list. Bee equipment will still to be built more next year, and since we recently got two horses, there will also be more fences to be fixed and/or built.
We would love help with cleaning out and reorganizing some outbuildings and the house, maybe building some raised beds and a greenhouse for the garden, canning, working in the garden (getting the vegetable garden back on track) and probably more projects as they develop. There is also a lot of work in the honeyhouse, once the honey season starts (building bee equipment, extracting honey, finishing the honeyhouse additions). We have fences to be fixed and new ones to be made. Anybody with building experience would be a treasure!
Cooking, dishes, firewood and animal chores are daily routines that should be shared.
German (at home), English
We have a very basic, but clean and bright room in an outbuilding. Our house is not big, but we can always make room at the table :-) We are not (yet) set up to host somebody in the cold season.
Since we have many animals, dogs and cats are in the house, and in the summer there is exposure to honeybees, any allergies (except possibly food-related) would be a problem. Also, volunteers should be aware that there are small (mosquitoes) and possibly larger (bears and other wildlife) challenges.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Maximum 5 hours a day, 5 days a week