For an experience in a farm with horses and dogs, if you love nature, here you’ll find silence and peace, and also many splendid places to visit.
[UPDATE: We have availability for one strong person to help outside with the bush clearing, using the brushcutter, driving the tractor to grind the fields, apart from helping a bit with the animals and the handling of horses.
Note that we are very busy during the week, and we can't go and check our emails every day. You might have to wait a bit for an answer. Sorry for this.]
We are looking for non smoker volunteers: One for outside maintenance, DIY and care of the horses, dogs and cats. We would love someone who could also help driving the car and the tractor. Apart from him/her, we can welcome a second volunteer if experienced with horse riding.
We live in a sparsely populated province called Berry located in the center of France just south of Paris region. The closest cities are Gien (27 km) and Briare (35 km).
Just west is the Sologne territory. We are located between Orléans (60 km) and Bourges (50 km). Here nature is all around, though we are at only 2 hours from Paris. East is the Sancerre valley.
Our house is an 18th century farm surrounded by fields and lands. We have about 15 horses and ponies on 20 hectares. A little stream runs through our land where horses can drink. We have dogs, cats, poultry, birds.
We were running a riding center here. We now keep some horses for pleasure.
I work as a sales advisor and I represent ecological products for a German company. I am having Equine Shiatsu classes to make it my new future job.
Help around the house
We are delighted to host people at home especially when they are interesting and have a good sense of humor. I love chatting and laughing and I love sharing my knowledge.
There is also a lot to see around : many castles and touristic monuments, nature sightseeing, hiking etc. We can provide a bicycle or drive you to any bus you need.
Many trails and country roads for horse rides, bicycle drives or foot hikes leave from home. The region of Sologne is a perfect spot for nature trekking. We can lend a horse if you really know how to ride (test will be done before).
• LOCAL GASTRONOMY:
East is the wine area of the Loire Valley with vintages like Sancerre, Pouilly, Quincy, Menetou Salon, Chinon.
The Berry region is also well known for its goat cheeses like Crottin de Chavignol, Selles sur Cher, Sainte-Maure de Touraine, etc.
It is also known for delicious local biscuits makers.
Our neighbours are goat and cow breeders and cheese makers. They hold a shop where volunteers can buy their various dairy products and lots of other local goods.
This is also an area full of cultural things to visit:
The old cities of Bourges, Orléans, many medieval castles, etc. We’re quite close to the famous castles of the Loire valley: Gien, Sully, Chambord are the closest.
Beauval, the 5th biggest zoological park in the world is also a good place to see in the area, as well as many historical sites and floral gardens.
The close city of Gien has an internationally famous 200 years old high-end earthenware manufacturing. Volunteers can buy wonderful presents for their relatives there.
• LEARNING HORSE RIDING:
If you stay long enough and help a bit more, you can learn how to handle and train horses. I can teach horse riding (my former job). We practice natural horsemanship (PNH) and our main rule is Respect. All our foals and young horses are trained this way from birth, and we do a lot of ground work. However we ride English style with bites and flat English saddles.
For trail rides, riders will need a specific horse riding insurance.
••• Please read carefully the following informations before sending us a message for applying•••
We would welcome mature, independent and resourceful persons who can do the work on their own. We will give you instructions, but the tasks are very versatile and volunteers have to be able to take wise decisions themselves.
We have animals to feed, sometimes animals to cure.
There are fences to clear and repair, wood to saw and burn and trees to trim. Sharp and/or heavy tools have to be used for these purposes.
It can be a tough job. However volunteers are free to organize themselves as they wish and choose the job they are up to depending on our needs. There is nothing compulsory apart feeding horses 5 days a week, provided that they respect the required time of helping.
We have a few horses at home, a couple of ponies and a donkey.
The regular help with the horses is not much. It takes 15 minutes to less than 2 hours a day depending on the season. All our horses live outside in the fields all year round so there is no weekly manure to muck out. Just giving grains to the horses in winter and from spring to fall taking ponies and donkey from one paddock to the other. In winter putting the balls of hay in the racks needs the tractor and this is not a job we normally ask to the volunteers but they will help us putting the balls in big nests (be aware if you have allergies). Most of the horses can drink in the river so there is not a lot of watering work either.
• OUTDOOR HELP
The help we ask to the volunteers, apart from what has just been mentioned, depends on their skills and their willingness : training horses, clearing fences, burning wood etc.
• OTHER MAINTENANCE
We would appreciate handy volunteers to help with DIY projects: mechanics, electricity, wood and metal work, soldering or welding work to repair carriages or racks, etc.
Cleaning and greasing the leather tack can also be a task any volunteer can help with.
• THINGS TO BRING
It would be good to bring good working clothes, strong waterproof shoes (or gum boots) and working gloves (gardening type) if possible. They are necessary for outside help and we can't have all sizes here.
If you want to ride, you'll need riding clothes. If you don't have any, bring long calf socks (like soccer or ski socks), comfortable jeans or elastic trousers, slips (better than underpants) for men. We have riding helmets to lend.
In summer, don't forget your sunscreen and bathing suit (lake nearby).
• DAILY ORGANISATION:
Time of help should be around 18 hours every 7 days in exchange of accommodation only. If horse riding is wanted, we would ask for more help (about 3 h per lesson or trek ride).
Once tasks are planned and understood, volunteers are free to organise their day of work as long as they respect the animals rhythm and habits.
This host offers a language exchange
We like to practice English and I would like to improve my Italian and my German.
• THE LODGE:
We have a guest house which is now closed to paying customers, where our volunteers can stay.
The first floor has a double bed room and a 6 bed dormitory, a bathroom with shower and a separate water-closet.
The ground floor is a one space area with a wide glass window facing the farm yard. It has a small kitchen (fridge, microwave, gaz cook top, mini oven, coffee maker, kettle) with a dining table and benches, and a cozy corner with sofas.
In winter, volunteers will heat the place themselves with the fireplace.
They are asked to keep the whole lodge as it is, and perfectly clean AT ALL TIMES.
• THE MAIN HOUSE :
If this lodge is not available, we have rooms in the main house to welcome volunteers. They would have their own bedroom, couples can have a double bed. The water-closet is in the bathroom which will be shared with the other guests or volunteers. The bedrooms and the bathroom are on the first floor.
It is asked that the bathroom, corridor to the rooms and stairs have to be kept cleaned at any time. The bedrooms have to be left perfectly cleaned when leaving.
On ground level is our private part (living room, bedroom, bathroom) and our dining room and kitchen where we have our own meals.
The bedrooms can be heated with electric heaters, but the corridor and ground floor can be cold in spring and autumn, so warm clothes for inside the house can be needed.
We will provide our volunteers with sheets and towels as long as they plan to stay a minimum of two weeks. They will have to cook and prepare their meals themselves in the lodge.
There is neither freezer nor TV available.
We don’t provide soap, hygiene or household products.
We leave free internet access for emails and social networks with a computer. However internet connexion is weak in the country and not enough for heavy multi person use. Downloading is difficult and makes telephone communication unavailable at the same time.
Unauthorised and heavy up or downloading are therefore forbidden (movies etc.). Long WhatsApp video calls can be shortened when we need the connexion, especially in the evening.
We shut down internet access at night when we go to sleep.
RISKS IN THE COUNTRY
The weather can be really hot and dry in summer, cold and muddy in winter. It’s often nice and warm in autumn. Spring is versatile, it is usually part sunny and hot, part rainy and muddy.
There’s many woods, lakes, ponds and rivers around. It’s therefore a wonderful scenery. It also brings some snakes and bugs (mosquitoes, horse flies, wasps, ticks...).
So you’ve got to be aware and bring long socks, long work clothes and bug spray in addition to your short pants and sunscreen creams. You’ll also need high ankle hiking type shoes and working gloves.
If you plan to ride, you will need long comfortable pants, long socks.
In the countryside there can be mud or dust, pollen, insects and we have a lot of animals. Be careful if you have any allergy, it might not be a good idea to come here.
Be aware that we use electric fences for the horses and you might get zapped. Harmless but it can be quite painful.
SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT AND TRANSPORT
We live in the country in an isolated farm in one of the least populated region of France. Therefore there is neither many people nor much mode of transportation around, except 3 trains per day to/from Paris (2 hours trip) and a few buses to Bourges. Train and bus stations are at 50 minutes walk. Our former interns usually went around by bike (we have some) or carpool (lots of BlaBlaCar opportunities). We can take you around by car a bit.
ENTERTAINING DURING FREE TIME
Our French countryside is like a desert. One can feel very lonely. So you really need to be a bit introvert, like solitude and be able to entertain yourself if you want to come on your own.
13 km away, there is a lake with sand beaches where you can go swimming or water ski.
There are rivers where people can fish (with a proper fishing license), trails to hike or ride.
When the required sanitary conditions are possible, there are many festivals and events going on all year round like the famous music festival "Printemps de Bourges" or the yearly national horse competition in July at Lamotte-Beuvron.
In July, there is the national horse riding championship close by. Therefore it can be difficult for me to have many volunteers. If you want to come during that period, you need to be very flexible.
We are non smoker and allergic to smoke. So it is strictly forbidden for anyone to smoke here, in the buildings or outside, and we prefer having only non smoker guests.
If we would not get along the volunteers and us, if they would make too many mistakes, if job or environment wouldn’t fit, both parts are free to break up. I just ask a 3 days delay before leaving if possible, so that each one of us can find another host or volunteer.
Respect our life style, our tools, our environment, our animals. If you are really helpful, we will do our best to please you and make you comfortable.
Each applicant will have too be fully vaccinated and must bring his own masks (1 per day or washable ones) and hand sanitiser. A valid EU Digital COVID Certificate is required.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
We have a correct Wi-Fi connection but it is shut down at night when we go to sleep. Heavy downloads are not easy sometimes and it can be crowded when two persons work on internet at the same time.
We've got space for large vans, and there is a terminal service for motor-homes nearby (sewage etc).
Dogs, cats, birds, horses are welcome in certain conditions. We can't accept neither dogs who would be poultry, cat or horse hunters, nor dejection all around, aggressive animals or stallions.
3 hours a day, 5 days a week
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