HI. I'm Val. I invite you to join me if only briefly to my small oasis in rural Tennessee. I work from home on 17 acres and would love some assistance in the garden and around the property to alleviate me of some time as I try to start earning an income in my new journey. This is the first time I've ever lived in the rural countryside and in June 2020 marked a year full time after finding the property 6 years ago..
I've been taking classes with the TN state park naturalist program and learning much about where I live. The entire property is about 17 acres along the Buffalo River in farm country about 20 minutes drive to the closest town. I went all in and have donkeys (standards and minis), chickens, cats that help with rodents or to sit on laps, peacocks, a pet rabbit, and 2 dogs - one has 3 legs and one has 1 eye (she's 16). At the end of May 2020, 3 foals were born and they are just a delight.
Why this new life?
After 2 decades of being a University graphic design professor, I walked away in 2018 to forge an unpaved path with a focus on finding joy and living a creative life closer to nature. It started in 2015 when I found this property in rural Tennessee about 90 miles drive to Nashville and started developing the space from interior to exterior on the down-low without my University knowing I was planning on leaving.
Who knows when life will feel really normal again in Covid times, but I once was an avid traveler. I enjoy staying home now. However, over the last decade or so, I've had the ability to travel extensively and really want to meet other travelers in this new chapter of my life. During my travels, I often stay at hostels or guest houses and used that as inspiration for setting up my retreat. I've been to Japan 7 times now for work including a travel photo project. I've also been to Copenhagen, Dublin and a road trip in Ireland, whitewater rafting in Costa Rica, a conference in Sydney, a few visits to Barcelona and one to the south of Spain, London, a month in Egypt for a work Fulbright-Hayes group project (mostly Cairo and Alexandria during the summer of the Arab Spring), Italy, and a road trip in Europe with my mom a long time ago. I have been to many states either as road trips or attending conferences.
Bricolage et projets de construction
Aider dans une ferme
Aider avec des éco-projets
Aider à la maison
This part of Tennessee is really lovely. I am willing to offer an exchange of design lessons or pottery lessons or access to the pottery equipment with more contribution such as helping to organize and keep the space tidy.
It's probably best if you have your own transportation if you want to get off the property. Due to some of the travel restrictions you should be prepared to be stuck in this lovely isolation during your stay. I could possibly pick up from an airport for those wanting to stay longer term than 2 or 3 weeks.
A bit about the property and cultural exchange. I am new to this area. The town I spend more time in is called Hohenwald which is German meaning High Forest. I'm in Lewis County in the foothills of Appalachia. It's truly a hidden gem of rolling hills with many trees. Timber and logging land is a large part of the immediate region.
My property is on the Buffalo River where there is a swimming hole. A 5-10 minute drive to a drop in is a 3-5 hour ride on the river. (I still haven't had a chance to do this because of how busy I've been and the need for 2 cars.) There are nature parks including the historic Natchez Trace Parkway nearby. Nashville is just under 2 hours and Memphis is 3 hrs.. Columbia TN and Florence AL are about an hour. Lots of little towns and even thrifting/antiquing in this area. With planning and the right people I can offer transport to/from the Nashville airport. The closest groceries are 20 minutes drive. I order a lot that gets delivered.
I have really enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people and see my world transformed with the talents of others. Over the past months, I've been able to assess better the type of interaction and time required when hosting wonderful people. As there is no end in sight with Covid and the country in turmoil as the election nears and into the new year for an unknown inauguration, I want to make sure that the host situation is the best for all parties. My property is 20 minutes from any town and obviously in the country provides lots of fresh air. I would ask that if anyone is going into the public places off the property that you wear a mask, and if there are other people on my property that we wear a mask if we can't social distance. Because we would share living space, it's important that we practice good public health rituals like washing hands and wearing masks at the grocery store, etc.
Number of helpers:
At this time into early 2021, I can only host one work-awayer at a time. In Feb/March, I may have two rooms but that is tbd. You may either be assigned a private ensuite or a smaller room with a shared bathroom. The house is climate controlled and shelters not only numerous pets but is the home office space for my various business endeavors. Wifi satellite. You may use TV during limited hours since I am often working (sometimes on remote conference calls). Those with allergies or smokers won't be accepted.
I will consider a couple or a family if you are traveling in your own vehicle camper. At the end of October, I can host one hookup for numerous months. I will consider a couple, or possibly two single workawayers for April - October 2021. I am trying to figure out a free-standing cabin or camper to house a helper.
Artist/Writers and other creative types would fit in well. Gardeners with green thumbs would love it here. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the nature, the river, and the nearby trails. Someone who is handy, may even have your own tools, an eye for organization, and a self-motivation to accomplish tasks.
Daily routine typical to help out between 9am and 12pm or thereabouts. Rest of day on your own unless you feel super motivated. Many of my work-awayer helpers have decided to spend most of their days active so I'm open to what fits your best workflow.
Am hoping to line up a helper for October to March and April to October.
Gardening: the fall is planting for winter garlic and the first attempt at hot box (greenhouse) options. continuing to organize the raised bed garden. November/December is pruning some trees with your help. monitoring the weeds over the winter. into spring summer will be focusing on the summer season. mowing and compost is more important then.
additional various types of projects or options to contribute:
- mowing - riding mower approximately once a week for a few hours. small battery operated push mower probably once a week in areas such as fence line for an hour (emptying the bag and returning the item, re-charging the battery), babysitting donkeys on a lead for them to eat pasture grass. I have two miniature donkeys that both lost moms. They need some supervision and activities so I thought it would be great if someone wanted to hang out with them while they grazed on a lead outside the fence area. The bigger donkeys are learning that they can go for a longer walk and get stationed in another pasture.
- cleaning and/or painting exterior surfaces. this does not take any technique except being able to use a paintbrush. I have a section of wood on a house and a deck posts that I want to paint. This is something that's super fun for me and helps me think about my other work but I'm having difficulty finding time in my life to tackle it.
- cutting bamboo - large bamboo grove that needs thinning. we have figured out a system to cut down several pieces daily and give them to the donkeys as treats. Then transfer them to another staging area to cut the branches off, then store them to dry where we will be using them for various projects like fencing and crafts. *this is not a daily obligation.
- manure/compost transport. a once a week task.
- marking trails - do you like to hike and spend time in nature? would you be interested in wandering around my property and marking what you think is an interesting walk? I have trail marker tape that can be wrapped around trees. If there's a sapling or weeds in the way we could get those out.
- random builds - are you interested in salvage and upcycling? I'm thinking about making a cool micro-shelter somewhere on my property that could be a reading nook, yoga space, star-gazing platform, hammock hangout. I would love to meet someone who may find this interesting and collaborate. Or maybe it's a smaller project that occurs from found objects.
- socializing animals. sitting with my big 3-legged Pyrenees. petting the donkeys including foals born end of May/beginning of June 2020.
- helping with trash runs to landfill about once a week. on occasion we will collect mulch/wood chips at the local landfill, then spreading mulch.
- go for a walk and pick up random sticks for kindling piles. help with various burn piles.
If you have a creative flair, know that I have an art studio with pottery equipment. If you would like to have a chance to express yourself in a creative way or learn clay, I'm interested in chatting more. Additional possibilities for the creatives that may read this -
- paint a small mural?
- help with developing art installations or small signs?
- help keeping the pottery studio clean and organized in exchange for using the kilns (electricity)
SPECIALIZED ASSISTANCE for longer term stays and those who know power tools
- help build an outhouse (already dug a big hole)
- building a tree house?
- build a walking bridge to an island for a large pond that is in process?
Depending on the amount of work you contribute and how long you stay, I can possibly assist with food basics like bread, rice, pasta, vegetables, pizzas which I would negotiate on a case by case basis. Let's discuss.
The primary room is an ensuite so we have privacy. It has a queen and a bunk. Need to help keep the plants alive in there.
The second room has a twin and daybed couch with a shared bath with me.
You would share living space with me which is a home office environment. I do have a TV and internet. But I need to make sure that my internet lasts every 30 days so I ask that you limit your use or schedule time to go into town to download anything you need. No video streaming such as FaceTime. I have found newer Iphones have some settings that really drain data so we would need to be vigilant on making sure wifi is turned off during sleep or while being active outside. Working on a second internet system that may be unlimited so cross our fingers it's soon!
The cell phones don't work very well here so I have a landline. Cell phones work better outside and in certain spots in the house. I get better service in the mornings and at night. I'm investigating which parts of the house and land work best. I know people have been able to use their phones it just depends on physical location and time of day.
There are dogs and cats that also live in the house so you can't be allergic. The animals do not go in the guest rooms. Stay includes linens. There's a washer/dryer in the house. Stove is propane. Water is from a well that supplies all of the houses and the studio. There are several decks outside. I have a small library of design books and general reading.
Due to lack of income that is exacerbated by COVID19, I can host, but cannot provide food beyond what's happening in the garden and possibly basics like rice and what I've mentioned above. I don't eat wheat, corn, and most processed foods. The town is 25 minutes drive so I don't go grocery shopping very often. As mentioned above, based on each situation I may be able to help with some basic food and we also sometimes have group dinners.
You can go for walks on the property, swim in the river, or borrow the kayaks. Or we can kayak together because it means there is help in driving from the camp to the drop in spot.
NO SMOKING including Vaping!! limited use of alcohol or none preferred. No drugs.
Accès Internet limité
Nous avons des animaux
Nous sommes fumeurs
3-4 hrs per day depending on length of stay. 5 days/week
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