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A couple of years ago we decided to move to France and build a straw bale house from scratch, with no experience. It has been a blast, and with the help of some friends our house is now up and we are starting to turn our attention to the interior, off grid energy, waste and water systems, lime plastering and various garden projects as we begin to flesh out our permaculture plan for the 4 acres surrounding the house.
We are looking for either an individual or couple who are happy to stay in our small, cosy and cute caravan, which was our home for almost three years. She is small but perfectly formed with a wood-burning stove, a gas hob and a shower. There is also a composting/dry toilet outside the caravan. Our facilities are basic and unusual but in the straw bale house we have an indoor dry toilet (with a fully functioning composting system outside) and kitchen. In summer, we generally take showers outside (in a swimming cossie, but still very liberating!), and we also have an indoor shower, although it is not yet hooked up to the plumbing system. We find using a jug with warm water is fine for now, but plumbing the shower into the solar water heater and ferro-cement tanks is a top priority before winter.
We need help with a huge variety of projects, including but not limited to: ferro-cement tanks for rainwater harvesting, tree planting, interior lime plastering, interior bamboo walls, off grid energy (solar), construction of a small toilet block ahead of future courses we plan to run etc.
Any practical skills you could bring would be massively appreciated, however, those without any are welcome to stay with us, after all, we built the house with zero experience! 4-5 hours a day 5 days a week would be great. We have bikes you can borrow and live in a quaint French village with a population of 1200 people, the river Vienne lazily flowing past and delightful countryside wherever you look. We love to go swimming in the river, and hope you will join us to cool down during the hot summer months.
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
The house itself is of interest, being made from load-bearing straw bales, but we tend to find the element which visitors are most interested in is the off-grid nature of the house and what this means in practice. Experiencing a house which is truly off-the-gird for water, waste and electricity certainly gives food for thought, and demonstrates that it is a possible reality. The only connection we have is the phone line, for internet, which we need for our online profession.
Alongside the off-grid house, you will get hands on experience with a wide variety of tools and techniques, what's more, we'll be learning together. We hope to be able to pass on our learning to everyone staying with us, whether it is something we are currently building or trialling, or something we have already done and you are interested in :)
We are both English language teachers too, so if you would like to work on your English skills, this is the right place!
The next projects are: ferro cement tank construction for rainwater harvesting as well as interior bamboo wattle and daub walls followed by natural lime plastering. Also, the creation of tyre foundations for a decking surrounding the house and building of said decking. Creating vegetable beds from scratch, including stone raised beds and Hugel-Kulturs. Lastly, you too can become as cool as Poldark and learn how to scythe grassland (we don't use many power tools!).
English, French (conversational)
Accommodation with us is a caravan with a double bed and a woodburning stove, separate to the main house, on the other side of our land, so it is yours to enjoy and relax as you wish. It's super warm with the stove going, but it will go out in the night and you will feel chilly in winter, so make sure you bring a good sleeping bag! We have heaps of blankets you can borrow too :)
We will share dinner cooking duties with our workawayers. We are both vegetarian and heavily plant-based. We will cook in the house, but guests can use the caravan for cooking too. Generally we will eat together - always dinner.
We work 4 days per week inside the house, teaching English online. During work hours we are unable to work on the house and it is very difficult for us to communicate with others during our lessons. Guests must be happy to work independently :)
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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