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We are looking at December, through the winter and especially next growing season: May, June and July.
Nearly everything we do is in support of one thrill: adventures in food. But rural living remote from a significant city means that there are also endless other things to be tasked as well: construction, gardening, maintenance of many sorts, enhancing the natural beauty around us. Chances are that if you could describe a pure-fun, physical job, there is something here that might satisfy those urges. If you want to work hard, eat marvelous meals and have a fabulous time in the gardens, the workshop and maybe the kitchen, come join us and get a relaxing feel of rural life. (Not vegetarian)
We are foodies far from the city and its distractions trying to help create a culture of great food around us: for ourselves, for our friends and in the community. We are also trying to make that happen as much as is possible using local foods, neighbours' offerings , and our own produce. We have ornamental and veggie gardens, grow, can, preserve and produce weekly artisan products for market. We also host meals emphasizing fine dining and hold cooking classes and demos here in the cottage, at the community hall, the farm to table market and other venues in town.
Way out here, that goal and those means require a lot of support is in other areas that have nothing to do with cooking and those are especially (but not exclusively) areas where we seek assistance.
- Maarten tinkered with all the small machinery getting it functional and back into good working order (plus much more.)
- Marisol cleaned up the gardens after winter and also three years-worth of left-behind garden tasks.
- Judith took over the workshop, made charcuterie boards, built a new stairway and plowed the driveway with the ATV.
- Thomas split and stacked a winters' firewood and cleaned up a mass of arborist leavings.
- Emily adopted the veggie gardens, got them planted and mulched and improved the fencing to keep out the deer.
- Aysha and Elias cleaned our garlic crop and helped replant and mulch.
- Francois built a firewood shelter on our fire pit patio.
Everyone got a bit extra finding out how things happen way out here. Many used their time here to mine an expert chef for cooking knowledge.
- Sara went from having no kitchen skills to become a cookie king.
- Eliceo found ways to add savories to the sweet baking he was already masterful at.
- Gina discovered that whole other side of cooking that is not romantic and fun.
- Lise, from the Loire Valley, mastered making macarons; go figure that.
- Benedict, the gamer, produced 3 dozen jars of salsa.
- Daniel (and several others) learned how to make a few easy things that would impress any date.
- Emma became designated cookie baker.
- Cris learned to make marshmallows.
You guys have given us so much in the 5 years we have been doing this that I know we will keep doing it. The workshop is always calling, gardening season never really stops and kitchen experiments always need attention. People already thinking beyond 2020 are welcome to send questions. And yes, those who have lots of life experience are welcome.
Look at our reviews. Experienced travelers say we have given them the best food, the best accommodations and for those so inclined, the cleanest and best equipped workshop.
Incidentally, some might call us off-grid but we are remote only in the sense that there is no major city nearby and no mobile phone service or broadcast television. We have gas in the kitchen, satellite phone/internet and Wi-Fi and pretty well every other city service. All of our interns so far have been able to keep in contact family and friends using Skype or a similar application. Nonetheless, we have to do for ourselves a lot of what is taken for granted in the city.
Pratique d’une langue
Bricolage et projets de construction
Aide dans une ferme
Préparer les repas / cuisiner pour la famille
Aide à la maison
Aide informatique / avec Internet
1. Chances to experience Canadian rural life without being totally isolated, all its warts and benefits and a taste of the skills important to sustain it: gardening, woodworking, construction and much more.
2. And, If you choose, in-depth exploration of food processing and preparation at an artisanal level. This is an experiential opportunity truly uncommon.
Recreationally, there is a huge network of trails beginning almost at our doorstep. We have snowshoes for the winter and bicycles for the summer. There is a beautiful swimming lake 15 kilometers farther out and whitewater rafting excursions from town. We do not have horses but seemingly every third home in this district does, many with extra mounts. If riding is a passion, we can introduce you to friends and neighbours with them.
We are near Barkerville, the restored 1860's gold rush town, well worth a couple of days. The Bowron Lakes just beyond is a world-famous canoe circuit. On the way to Barkerville is Wells, a 1930ish re-purposed mining town now an artists’ colony and hideaway that is open some days. First weekend in August is ArtWells, an arts and music festival that lives by helpers. Near our home is the Alexander Mackenzie Trail, the route used by the first Europeans to cross North America.
You would have ample opportunity to get away for a week or so and go exploring, maybe paddle the Fraser River or even do the Bowron canoe circuit (we have the gear.) Having your own transportation would help but if you have the license you could ride our scooter.
Each year we look for someone or a sequence of ones to adopt for the season to be the third member of the family, to assist in getting done all those little things we want to do but just do not have enough hours in the day to get to: keeping the schedules, turning the compost, doing the succession planting, weeding the landscape perennial beds, finishing the fencing and so much more (not to mention all those reno and improvement and building projects on the ToDo list that keep getting postponed.) With three (or four) people paying attention to these things we all get more play time and opportunities to try new recipes and there will always be an extra pair of hands to dash out and clip a few more pansies to garnish the veloute. Jenn would have assistance in baking, canning and granola making. I would not have to fret about all the other must-do's while I spend 2 hours watering the flowers; we would all get the chance to work on some of those woodworking and carpentry projects that never seem to bubble up to the top of the ToDo list. More and more I am finding that our interns get to do the fun stuff so I can do the necessary.
But what would you like to do?
Do you spend as much or more time talking about food as you do eating it? When you try a new recipe, is the post-game analysis as much of a thrill as the try-outs? Do you agonize over whether kosher salt is an acceptable alternative to fleur de sel? Are your memories of travel as much consumed by the meals you ate as the sights you saw or the things you did?
If you said YES to any of those questions then you are a bona fide FOODIE and might love it here.
Do you just want to escape your driven life in the city, find a place to pause where nothing seems critical and a race to get ahead is not in the cards? Do you want the things you do to show results every moment? A spell here might help you refocus the big picture.
Do you have fantasies about getting out of the city and living a rural life, growing your own food and relying more on what you do yourself than what you can buy? A spell here could flatten those fantasies or guide them closer to achievement.
DO you want to take on a bigish project doing something within your skill set but that you would have no chance to find or time to do in your now life? If it is something that will enhance our petite auberge then chances are we will say "go fly at her!"
By the way, childcare is NOT one of the things you could be asked to do; no children are on the property.
We have found that the exchanges that work best last a month to six weeks or longer but we will consider shorter stays. (We always hope to find people looking for an extended stay, two months or more, perhaps all season.)
Learning opportunities are hard to define. Your own questions and passions will likely show these. In the gardens we will learn together. You may learn a couple mainstays in the kitchen cooking for family and have a chance to learn some culinary skills an a whole lot more about food from an expert chef.
You will also have opportunities to get more familiar with many of the more common skills needed on a rural property: woodworking and construction, (new shower hut, deck canopy, barbeque shelter), plumbing and electrical installation, small engine maintenance, tool sharpening, fencing, picking up dog poop and of course brutal back-breaking manual labour.
There are far too many individual tasks to list them all but there are several general areas where you will help us:
- garden maintenance in all respects; food, ornamental and landscape
- food preservation;
- general construction and hardscaping;
- general household maintenance.
work usually begins around 0900; we are definitely NOT early rise-and-shiners.
Your private spot until the snow flies will be our little travel trailer/caravan with electricity, fridge and heat for the coldest nights. We supply all bedding and towels. In frigid weather you move into the BnB space.
Most days, your toilet and wash-up sink is in our workshop building; we will ask you to use the sink/toilet in the cottage when we have B&B guests. For now, the bathtub/shower is in the cottage; we all share it. Just a note; the cottage bath/toilet is behind a curtain, not a wall. We have a shallow well that has run dry in the summer; shower time is rationed for all of us.
There is no cable or broadcast TV and no mobile phone service either. Wi-Fi is available but our internet connection is by satellite; it is slow and we have limited bandwidth; no Netflix, long Youtubes or big downloads please. Phone service is also by satellite and has a transmission delay. It is free to anywhere in North America.
Our regular breakfast is granola and yogurt, toast and preserves. You will most often gather it yourself but we occasionally sit down together to bacon and eggs on toast or Jenn’s current elaboration on that theme. We never prepare lunch (unless we are hosting one) but the fixings for sandwiches are available. We almost always prepare some sort of a dinner and we expect every resident to prepare one dinner, simple or otherwise for us all each week (guidance and support is always available.) You will also be called to assist getting dinner ready or cleared away even if it is only setting the table. You may be guinea pig for a new recipe we are testing; not always spectacular but we have never made anyone sick yet.
Ours is a moderately large home garden which we expand a bit each year. We raise no animals and have no large machinery. We actually have far more area in landscape beds than in vegetables; we see both as having equal value. Ours is a challenging (short season, cold) climate and part of what we seek to do is test the limits of what is possible without horrendous additional inputs. We were told you cannot grow stuff like tomatoes or basil (and definitely not tomatillos) outside of a greenhouse; of course we had to test that and prove it wrong.
We have also spent many years building up and improving the property and our cottage just for beauty’s sake. (If Jenn has a choice between useful and practical OR photo-worthy for Country Living magazine she will always choose photo-worthy.) This is a place that people always seem to feel comfortable wasting time at; we saw that and made it part of why we invite them here. We would invite you in the same spirit.
Ultimately our gardens, our food, our hospitality are about offering the best of oneself in microcosm, at small scale, at the person to person level, the way the world actually works.
Our place is near Quesnel, BC; somewhat near the centre of the province. We are 11km from the nearest store, 22km from the nearest small town, a 2 hour drive from the nearest small city that has a bit of an urban feel and a full day’s drive from Vancouver. We say with a bit of exaggeration that we live in the middle of nowhere and have all the attendant problems and benefits of that. We think we live in the heart of beauty, the quiet, not so spectacular kind.
Our lot is about 2 hectares (5 acres) with about one-fifth of that tamed into gardens and lawn. The other four-fifths are in near-mature second-growth deciduous forest. Some of our challenges come from the fact that we are in a bio-geo-climatic zone called sub-boreal. We are also at about 900 metres elevation: cool nights even after very hot days. Most years frost tender crops have to be protected before mid-June and as soon as September starts.
Jenn was many years a fine-dining chef and works to recapture the thrill. Bruce is a retired industrial forester recruited as sous-chef to Jenn’s insidious intentions. He is also chief labourer, carpenter and general dogs’-body for the plan. We are scientific rationalists, atheists and sometimes pushy skeptics. We will March Against Monsanto because it is a greedy corporate bully but not because it promotes GMO’s. If you are an evangelical Christian, an organic absolutist, an unleavened Woo Wooer, like Trump or take a fervent position on anything based only on unproven belief, I think we would clash; otherwise we might learn from each other.
Key attributes: not a smoker, tobacco or pot; a morning person rather than a night owl; not shy; inquisitive; ready to question when you do not understand a request. You MUST leave your mobile phone in your space during work times.
This is not day after day of heavy manual labour but you must be capable of some sustained physical effort; there are tables to be moved, stairs to climb, flowers to pick. We would never ask you to work longer than we would and we do love to break for the afternoon and sip rosé on the deck.
We strive to offer balanced meals with minimal factory processed foods but do not follow any particular diet theme. Our menus can include wheat-based foods, dairy and any kind of meat including organ meats, all red meats and, in particular, pork. For practicality, we hope helpers can generally share this diet. If you can adapt to our menu or can be proactive in ensuring you are otherwise well nourished then we can welcome you. Note however, we will not stock special foods for you unless they are things we might eat anyway.
We want you to act like a family member in most respects, make this your home and actively embrace your one-third share of the mundane household tasks. Fun tasks may be calling but there is always laundry and dishwashing and cleaning the toilet among so many other needful tasks.
The only equipment/clothing you will need is your garden wear, stuff you do not mind getting filthy, stained, ripped and damaged; a good pair of boots and/or wellies will be an asset. (We have hand-me-downs you can wear if you are travelling super light.)
You recognize that you are here to learn from us as well as share your skills. Part of that means getting clear on how we want you to do a task rather than how you think it can be done. Yes, you can have a fantastic experience here and a time totally different from the rest of your life but please remember that we are not offering you a vacation. If this is your first time away from home or school, please have your mother teach you some basic life skills: how to make yourself breakfast and lunch, how to keep your personal space clean so it does not attract vermin, how to sort and do laundry.
Yes, we do host couples in busy seasons but showers are rationed and the caravan is small.
Accès Internet limité
Nous avons des animaux
Nous sommes fumeurs
Yes, unless your work truly demands a high speed link. We are on satellite; too slow for cloud based applications but perfectly adequate for file exchange and email.
Basically any size except a bus or a massive 5th wheel.
Your dog would be welcomed too but not if s/he - has shown ANY sign of chasing wildlife, horses, cattle, sheep or goats; - is a chicken killer (or any fowl); - is a runner/explorer/neighborhood carouser. He must also not be a constant barker, be OK with hanging out ON the property alone unchained and not be pushy with Daisy, our stout, 8 y.o. black Lab.
20 to 25 hours per week arranged as works for both of us.
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