We live downtown Owen Sound, Ontario, in a sunshine yellow house with 2 young children and a 3rd due in July, so it’s always lively and busy. We play multiple instruments, love sports and animals, eat well, enjoy working on the land and being in nature, and are connected to many awesome people in the area.
I'm a 38 year old high school Art teacher, currently on maternity leave. My husband is a carpenter/musician. He is 42 years old. Our children are 4.5 and 2.5 years old. They're amazing and involved in everything we do. We're full of ideas, eco-conscious, hardworking, and always inspired to use our time wisely or passionately. :)
We're hoping that there are some other people out there who want to join in the fun of creating an inspiring place to be in the countryside –a rich, healthy land for animals and people alike. We have 32 acres of wild land that needs both taming and nourishing. It's got a large creek, old growth Cedars, huge Silver Maples, marshes teeming with life, a windy, clover hill with a sunset view, a ravine with a tiny creek, evergreen forests, and a winding river that flows into beautiful Georgian Bay- just steps away. We call the land “Loxley.” It is at the edge of a tiny, tiny town with not much going on in it BUT is has a nice soccer field!!!, a children’s park, an old baseball diamond, and a community hall that hosts social dinners every now and then.
We're welcoming folks interested in...
a) “working and living on the land” in rural Ontario AND/OR
b) taking on the most important job of all -Raising strong children in a colourful, primarily screen free house...
Babysitting / child care
Cooking / shopping
Help in the house
Primarily, travelers will reap the rewards of living and working independently on a pretty wild piece of Canadian land during the summer and fall.
Other than gaining skills and knowledge related to outdoor living (gathering firewood, making fires, cooking meals on an open fire/propane stove, searching for wild food, collecting water, and handling the local weather and wildlife), you will have several options on how you want to experience life on the land.
What lessons you want to take home with you depends on you.
You can choose to focus on learning and/or sharing any and all of the skills, knowledge, and tools related to…
1. Carpentry, alternative house building, masonry, and welding by building structures to complement the natural beauty of the land.
2. Landscaping, forestry, and gardening by creating trails and clearings; managing forests; planting trees/bushes/veggies; grafting, pruning; and harvesting and processing food.
3. Childcare of young children, including a newborn, by helping out with the daily task of orchestrating meals, naps, and playtime. Note: this will mostly take place at our home in Owen Sound.
The opportunities to partake in a variety of purely social and recreational activities are boundless as well because we love to have fun too. We live in a unique part of the country and are a part of lovely community of outdoorsy/artsy folk. We enjoy swimming and hiking, playing music, hanging out at social gatherings, going to farmer’s markets, playing a game of footy, drinking coffee (Patrick!), attending music festivals and shows, making art, and checking out the big city of Toronto.
Furthermore, you have the chance to engage in many artistic and/or musical endeavors, if you so wish, in your free time. We would be happy to teach you all that we know about guitar, violin, mandolin, banjo, accordion, flutes/recorders, singing/songwriting, knitting, sewing, jewelry, painting, batik, pottery, basic drawing, paper arts, wood burning, mosaics, wood carving, pen and ink, collage, printmaking, and sculpture.
Travellers visiting us must be thoughtful, independent, self-motivated and happy spending most of their time outside. Ideally, people arrive in pairs or they must feel content to work alone in nature and be self-motivated to do a variety of tasks, according to a flexible schedule. Patrick’s work schedule and my parenting responsibilities vary from day to day, depending on weather, mood, and social events etc., and thus your schedule must also be somewhat flexible. If you’re happy working in nature for several hours a day then this exchange might be right for you. Some of the outdoor tasks you could take on are…
a) Build a bridge, fences, boardwalk, cabin/tree house, outdoor kitchen, composting toilet, greenhouse, water filtration system, and outdoor shower etc.
b) Clear trails for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing/snowshoeing
c) Cut-down Buckthorn trees (invasive species), make small clearings, and manage a plantation Pine forest
d) Plant and water native trees/berry bushes
e) Create campsites (burn brush, make fire pits/ovens/tent platforms)
f) Raise chickens
g) Fish and/or hunt
h) Set up a 14 ft trampoline ;)
If you’re more interested in helping out at our house in town, then you could volunteer to…
a) Manage our vegetable garden/flower beds
b) Harvest and process food either from our garden or local markets etc.
c) Help with childcare
d) Cook meals
English, French, some Spanish and German, tiny bit of Japanese
More than likely, you will be living on our land, a 15 minute drive from our house in town. Your dwelling at this time will be a large, good quality camping tent in an old growth Cedar forest beside a creek... until we get the platform built for a beautiful 13 ft Lotus Belle Canvas Tent. Depending on when you arrive, you could also be sleeping in a cabin with a porch but that's not likely until the fall.
We will share many of our meals with you, or provide you with ready to eat food and/or camping food. You will have access to everything you need to cook food over an open fire or on a camp stove. There is also a large, pioneer woodstove that could be set up, when an outdoor kitchen structure is built. You can shower at our house or in the creek. Depending how soon you arrive, you might be building your own outhouse and camp shower too! Like I said, we're in the very beginning stages of developing the land.
Both Patrick and I are world-travelers with spontaneity in our hearts, who have returned home to make a life for ourselves where we grew up. We love and respect nature and people, and we want to live with other people who feel the same.
If you have a driver's license, we have an extra car for you to use. We also have several extra bicycles. There is world-class hiking on the Bruce Trail, fantastic mountain biking and cycling around the Blue Mountains, and wonderful swimming virtually anywhere. The local food and arts community is also vibrant. There are several towns within 15-45 minutes away from the land that have many of the attractions you would expect from a small city: art gallery, library, recreation centers and parks, shopping and entertainment (music venues, theater, cinema, farmer’s market, coffee shops, and bars). Owen Sound also offers a premier folk festival, 'Summerfolk,' in August, and we can provide you access to it with us. Patrick volunteers as a juggling performer and I facilitate a flower garland activity.
We’ve opened up our home to many travelers over the years, usually through word of mouth or spontaneous meetings on the street. We look forward to introducing our children to other adventurous spirits and sharing some life, some work with you.
Be prepared for lots of freedom, an adventure, some family chaos involving young children, hopefully enjoyable work, Ontario weather, and a learning experience. Pessimism is not welcome, just be ready to go with the flow and look at the bright side of life. Constructive feedback, yes, of course, but we’re on a happy roll, and have big dreams, so arrive with some drive and similar dreams of your own!
Remember too, that your accommodation will probably be in a tent in a forest, near wetlands, so you can expect to see and hear lots of wildlife. But don’t worry, nothing dangerous! We don’t have any alligators or bears or poisonous snakes and insects!
Patrick, Emma, Rosalie, Quinlan, and lil baby, due on July 11th. :)
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week