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For an experience in a farm with horses and dogs, if you love nature and are not afraid of hard work! Here you’ll find silence and peace, and also many splendid places to visit.
[UPDATE : Due to the Corona virus epidemic, travelers coming from abroad will have to check the government statements before applying and check if they will be able to come to France. We are pleased say we can now host people coming from Europe. We hope things are going to be easier next month and that we will be able to have travelers from overseas at home soon. In any case, each applicant will have to bring his own masks (1 per day or washable ones) and his/her hand sanitizer.]
We are looking for non smoker volunteers : One for DIY and care of the horses, dogs and cats. We would love someone who could work on the car and the tractor (electricity, mechanic etc.). Apart from this we are looking for an extra volunteer if really experienced with horse riding. We have three foals 3 years old to break in and other young horses to train.
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, We do some breeding with our stallion. A little stream runs through our land where horses can drink. We have dogs, cats, poultry, birds.
I work as a salesgirl and I represent ecological products for a German company. This year I am having classes to learn Equine Shiatsu. We live in the country but originally come from Paris region.
We love having 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.
I like to practice my English and I would like to improve my Italian and my German.
Cooking / shopping
Help in the house
There are 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.
Nature: Many trails and country roads for horse rides, bicycle drives or foot hikes leave from home. This is a perfect spot for nature trekking. We can lend a horse if you know how to ride.
Local gastronomy: East is the wine area of the Loire Valley with vintages like Sancerre, Pouilly, Quincy, Menetou Salon. The Berry region is also well known for its goat cheeses like Crottin de Chavignol, Selles sur Cher, Sainte-Maure de Touraine, etc.
Tourism: This is also an area full of cultural things to visit : the old city 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, one of the biggest zoo in Europe is also a good place to see in the area, as well as many other historical sites and floral gardens.
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). For trail rides, riders will need a specific horse riding insurance.
OUTSIDE MAINTENANCE PROJECTS
We need mature, independent and resourceful persons who can work on their own. We live on a farm where there are many things to do. We will give you instructions, but the task is very versatile and volunteers have to be able to take wise decisions themselves.
We have animals to feed, hay and water to give to the horses, sometimes boxes to clean and animals to treat. There are fences to clean and repair, woods to clear and trees to trim. Sharp and/or heavy tools have to be used for these purposes.
The horses may have to be watered in the fields with the water tank and we need to drive with the trailer.
In winter the big balls of hay are put in the racks with the tractor.
We also need help with DIY work (do-it-yourself, craft) in the house, with mechanics, electricity etc. and we would like handy volunteers.
Cleaning and greasing the leather tack can also be a task they can help with.
Volunteers will help cleaning the house, saddlery or any other building that needs it.
Later in winter or spring we will have some restoration like rooms to paint etc. I will undergo a surgery and I’ll be a little handicapped for a while. So I might need help to take care of my animals, driving me around, etc.
If you have a good riding level, experience and you think you can help with horse and foal training, we can plan to have you work mainly with the horses and less at the outside maintenance. In this case, handy skills are not as important but I ask at least one month here to have a real work done. The training consists on riding in the ring and ground help. We have a few three years old foals to break (lunging work "horsemanship" way already begun). We have a 6 years old green horse to train on dressage and jumping. We have also other horses and ponies to train (14 in total). You can also go for a ride in your free time, there are plenty trails around and our mature horses are used to that. You will need to purchase a specific riding insurance in France (36 €) if you want to ride on outdoor trails.
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.
Don't forget your bathing suit in summer.
Time of work should be around 25 h every 7 days in exchange of meals and accommodation. If horse riding is wanted, I would ask for more help (about 3 h per lesson or trek ride).
Winter: We have a guest house which is closed in winter, where our volunteers can stay during this period. They will heat the place themselves with the logs from my woods. In this lodge, volunteers would share the dormitory, bathroom, living room, kitchen. They have to keep the place clean at all time.
Summer: If the lodge is not available, we have rooms in the main house to welcome them. Volunteers there would have their own bedroom, couples can have a double bed room. The bathroom will be shared with the other guests or volunteers. The bedrooms and the bathroom are on the first floor. The bathroom, corridor and stairs have to be kept cleaned at all time. The bedrooms have to be left cleaned when leaving.
On ground level is our private part (living room, bedroom, bathroom) and the dining room and kitchen where we have our meals.
The rooms can be heated with electric heaters, but the 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, towels and food for 25 hours work exchange. They may have to cook and prepare their meals themselves. I have a strange diet that is hard to share!
We have free internet access for emails and social networks. Downloading is difficult. Unauthorized and heavy up or downloading is forbidden. We shut down internet access at night.
RISKS IN THE COUNTRY
The weather can be really hot in summer, cold in winter, it’s often nice in autumn. In spring, it is usually part sunny part rainy.
There’s many woods, lakes, ponds and rivers around. It’s therefore wonderful to see. It also brings some bugs (mosquitoes, horse flies, wasps, ticks...) so you’ve got to be aware and bring long socks, long work clothes and bug spray, as well as shorts and sunscreen creams. You’ll also need good boots and working gloves.
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 and a good bra for girls. We have riding helmets to lend.
In the countryside there can be mud or dust, pollen, insects and we have a lot of animals. Be careful if you have any allergies, it might not be a good idea to come.
We use electric fences for the horses and you might get zapped. Harmless but it can be painful.
SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT AND TRANSPORT
We live in the country in an isolated farm in the 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
The French coutryside is like a desert. One can feel very lonely. So you really need to 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, trails to hike or ride.
There are many festivals and events going on around all year, like the famous music festival "Printemps de Bourges".
In July, there is the national horse riding championship closeby. Therefore it can be difficult for me to have many volunteers because my lodge and my rooms are often rented for guests. But you never know, I could manage to have two workawayers in 2019 although one of them needed to sleep on a cough for one night. If you want to come during that period, you need to be very flexible.
We are non smoker and I am 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 wouldn’t fit the job or environment, if they would make too many mistakes, 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 live style, our tools, our environment, our animals. If you are really helpful, we will do our best to please you and make you comfortable.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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