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My name is Kelly. This is the short story of my Homestead.
This Homestead is my home, my passion, and the action I take in belief that small family farms are a key to saving our species. This is also an extension of the lifestyle choice I had to make to heal from chronic and debilitating pain that consumed my 20’s and 30’s, and still impacts me today.
Located on 22 acres of second growth forest in the Mendocino Mountains in Northern California, this is an off-grid agroforestry and permaculture-inspired project. On the property since 2015, I’m in the beginning stages of manifesting my goal of being zero-waste, self-sustainable, and creating an example of the power of intentional small communities to nurture and rebuild the Earth’s ecosystem through direct action. (I wrote this in 2020, and am delighted when rereading this to feel like I am now transitioning past the beginning stages. 🥰)
The Help I Need Right Now
I am especially looking for people to fill this particular role.
We start our day with a morning meeting, a time where helpers share what they accomplished the day before and we discuss plans for the day/week.
Then you would spend about one hour doing house chores. Things like sweeping and vacuuming, brushing the pets, dishes, etc.
Then work on various projects, you will be given a list and can choose the projects from this list that you like best. This can include things like various cleaning tasks, various garden tasks, harvesting herbs and flowers, helping haul woodchips, cleaning out animal enclosures, hauling firewood, etc. I like everyone to enjoy their work, so if a particularly task does not appeal to you, please speak up, I can offer you a different project instead, I’m all about supporting people in doing projects they enjoy.
I have a lot of non homestead work on my plate this summer. Some of it away from the farm, and some of it on my phone. I will be around a good amount, but not super involved in projects most days.
I am also looking for more specialized roles for those who have the skill set. Particularly someone with building skills. See below for more projects.
You’ll Thrive here If
- Your radically self reliant and fully capable of taking care of your own needs and behaving like an adult. (This is not an ideal position for people who have never lived or traveled on their own.)
- You’re an internally motivated person able to get work done without micromanagement.
- You like to volunteer in a way that contributes to a project’s big picture and long-term vision.
- You learn by doing and observing, and don’t expect to be taught by someone else.
- You like the challenge of helping to build a project - it is in the beginning stages, we’ve got a lot of room to grow, everything is a work in progress, and there’s a lot of hard work yet to be done.
- You’re okay with the reality that we eat meat (even though we happily accommodate all diets), we still rely on outside food sources, and have to rely on gas-powered generators when our solar reserve runs out.
- You enjoy living in service.
- You can make a one month commitment. This is the ideal length of time for optimum flow.
***If all of this sounds like it could be a good fit, please read through this whole listing before you apply, as I’ve included everything I think is helpful for you to know.***
Aide avec des éco-projets
Bricolage et projets de construction
S’occuper des animaux
Aide dans une ferme
Aide à la maison
The 20 Year Plan
I spent the first year at the homestead observing the land, and created a 20-year permaculture-inspired design plan for the homestead that is constantly evolving. I’m happy to walk you through the property to share the design and the future plans for the project.
The homestead is ripe for hands-on learning. Every day can be an opportunity to learn, observe, ask questions, and cultivate knowledge and skills from the projects you’ve signed up to do, and from other projects happening as well.
Library of Books
I believe that reading a book is one of the best ways to learn because it introduces you to the full journey of someone dedicated enough to learning that they’ve committed to writing an entire book. I’ve cultivated a library of books that have had a deep impact on my homesteading journey, and that I feel share wonderful information. With gentle use and care, you’re welcome to read them during your time off. (Please don’t “accidentally walk off” with these. I’ve had a few too many books vanish the past couple years)
Depending on the season, we dehydrate, can, and preserve food here, and you can definitely participate when this happens.
Animal Care and Butchering
I have goats that we milk, that I sell, and that we slaughter for meat. I also have chickens on the farm for eggs and meat. Although you absolutely do not have to participate in the slaughter of animals, those interested are welcome to learn how to butcher, pluck, and use the full chicken for eating and art (we use the feathers for jewelry).
Medicinal Plants and Herbs
The garden is currently mostly medicinal plants, and I create tinctures and other natural products. You can help harvest the plants, and observe how I process what I’ve been growing in the garden.
The Flow and Festival Community
I am actively involved in the flow arts and festival community. I spin hula hoop, poi and fans, and also dance with fire. I host a Free Hula Hoop Camp here at the Homestead each fall, (Second week in September) as well as other smaller parties and events. (These things are mostly on pause due to covid.)
The peace and quiet up here is remarkable. It’s a great place to escape the grid, live symbiotically with nature, and with amenities like compost toilets and outdoor showers, you get to really immerse yourself in minimal living.
These are some of the opportunities for workawayers to learn in a hands on way as they help us stay sustainable.
Housekeeper/daily chores/garden help:
- I can accommodate up to 3 people for this role.
- Part of your work will be filling the daily chore/housekeeper role.
- Daily chores are the heartbeat of this homestead, and are perfect for those who like routine in their day. Chore help is deeply helpful to me as well. When you complete chores, it frees up my attention for decision-making and the oversight needed to keep the homestead moving forward. Or maybe just to get some income generating online work done. The ideal workawayer for chores likes consistent routine, will be able to follow well-developed, tried and true instructions, show up on time for certain tasks, and is capable of clear and open interpersonal communication.
- The daily tasks are sweeping and vacuuming the main house, washing dishes, as well as brushing the dogs and playing with/exercising them. The timing on this shifts with the seasons, but currently we start the day with a team meeting at 10:00 and then this person does these chores as their first task of the day. I find it vital to have this role filled by someone who enjoys these tasks and can do a meticulous job. The right fit here is essential.
- This role also includes house cleaning. Cleaning bathrooms, mopping floors, spiderwebs and dusting, as well as deep cleaning. I am craving a deep spring cleaning through the house and would love some assistance from someone who thrives in this role.
- The second part of your work would be helping out in the garden. Tasks include building and turning compost piles, pulling weeds/harvesting greens for the chickens, harvesting herbs and flowers, hauling and spreading mulch, hauling and spreading wood chips for garden paths, hauling logs and branches to build the hugleculture bed, etc.
- Also could use your help with hauling branches around. We thin the forest for general forest health and to harvest goat food. Help carrying these branches to the goats is appreciated. Then after the goats are done with them the remaining sticks are sorted for various uses, and we could use help with this as well.
Carpenter/builder/handy person: I have a handful of projects on the priority list for this year that are the best fit for someone with these skills. The first of these projects is
- Lead in designing and building a compost toilet on the far side of the property. (Currently it’s a bit of a walk for these accommodations, sure would like to offer a closer pooping spot). This will be the third compost toilet to be built here, so I have a general design plan, but there is lots of room for creativity. Looking for something with a “fairies made this from the woods” aesthetic, ideally this will be made mostly with trees and branches from the woods. There is a large abundance of logs and branches available, tan oak, Douglas fir and madrone trees. The ideal candidates for this project will have experience in natural building.
- There is currently another helper on-site who can assist with this project, and I am open to an additional Workawayer who is eager to learn and help, but may not have the skills to lead this project.
- If this excites you, please share with me about your relevant past experiences, I will share with you some inspirations photos and we can make a design plan together. Once on-site I can show you the two compost toilets here and we can discuss the pros and cons of each and how we can use that knowledge to level up this third structure.
- Final note: My neighbors have a small amount of paying work for someone with these skill sets.
Barn Cleanouts, Compost, and Soil Building
- Goats and chickens are an essential part of our sustainable and regenerative ecosystem. I use a deep litter system for our goat barn and chicken coop, and when we clean them out, we use the material to develop compost piles. You can participate in building and turning a developing compost pile, and cleaning out usable materials from the barn and chicken coop. These materials transform the compact clay soil into healthy soil that can grow abundant food in our no-till garden.
Pulling Weeds, Harvesting Herbs and Flowers
- Pulling weeds can be a fascinating way to observe and manage nature as a weed is just a plant in the wrong place. As you weed you’ll learn the names of plants (and I’ll learn too as I don’t yet know all the names of the plants!) that we’re trying to keep, and the plants we’re trying to remove. I also need help harvesting herbs and flowers throughout the year.
Composting Toilets, Humanure, and Hugelkultur
Everybody shits, including humans, and human shit can be just as useful to the ecosystem as goat and chicken shit. If you volunteer here you can learn how we use human poop to the greatest effect (it’s not as gross as you might think). The barrels of poop from the composting toilet sit and age to eliminate any pathogens before it becomes one part of a layered hugelkultur style bed. While pouring the humanure is one part of a hugelkultur bed, most of the labor for this task is gathering the other hugelkultur layers (logs, sticks and dirt). Eventually these garden beds will be covered in beneficial and medicinal flowers.
I’m in the process of setting up a platform for educational purposes, and I currently use social media as a tool for this. I’m looking for people who want to use skills they’ve cultivated in videography, photography, and/or writing to help me create a range of content, including YouTube videos.
-These spaces are large and comfortable, tall enough to stand up in and furnished with proper beds. You have the option of your own space, or they are large enough to share with a friend. Most of these have single beds in them, but if desired, I have some double beds available for couples.
This rustic one-room cabin is about a half mile walk down the hill from the main house. It is heated with a wood stove in winter. There is solar power here, and a composting toilet a short walk away. (Currently occupied with a long term helper)
A single-room cabin with a kitchenette, wood stove and solar power. This space is habitable, but also a work in progress. (Currently occupied with a long term helper)
Information About Bedding
I believe that people working hard should have a really comfortable place to sleep, I offer proper mattresses. I also have pillows, sheets, and blankets. Bedding is washed between workawayers.
If you travel in your van or small camper, I have a flat and shady place for you to park. (If you need sun for your solar panels, there is a spot by the road that has great sun)
Items you can count on being available here are dry goods, canned food, rice, olive oil, and pasta. Much of this food is sourced from the (pretty incredible) local food bank, which can be visited biweekly and includes a mystery amount of fresh veggies, bread, eggs, grains, legumes, pasta, meat, canned goods, peanut butter, and fruit. There are sometimes other fun surprises like candy or fizzy drinks. Sometimes the food is organic and locally grown, sometimes it is not. People can participate in food bank runs as they wish. Participation is appreciated but not required. There is always plenty to share whether you participate or not. There is an abundance of this food.
When the farm produces surplus, I happily share the abundance with helpers. Right now, there is an abundance of eggs. Some goat milk is available. Kale and chard are the veggies currently in season.
If you want food outside of what is available and provided, you are encouraged to purchase what you need. However, if desired (and you aren’t too particular) you can stay here and be nourished without having to buy food.
We do eat meat here, and raise animals lovingly for this purpose, but I support all dietary preferences.
Update On Communal Meals (I don’t coordinate these anymore).
In the past we’ve done regular communal meals, but I’ve found it works better when volunteers coordinate this amongst themselves. If you love to cook meals for groups, feel free to propose this to your fellow workawayers.
Outdoor Camp Kitchen
There is a covered outdoor kitchen where the helpers cook their meals. You will have access to lots of counter space, a communal propane-powered camp stove, pots, pans, and dishware. There is a deep sink with hot and cold running water, gravity fed from the rainwater tanks. Greywater-safe soap and propane is provided.
To prevent problems with attracting predators to the homestead, it is vital that all food is securely stored, and scraps and dishes are cleaned up immediately. There is a fridge in the main house that you are welcome to store a small amount of perishables in. Freezer space is available, but limited.
We do not have trash service, so your help with waste management is necessary. There are recycling bins at the main house for communal use. All recycling must be cleaned completely before being placed in the bins. I ask that you take all non-recyclable trash to town yourself, and I can recommend places to throw this stuff away.
There is a pretty sweet covered outdoor shower available, with hot water. Most people enjoy this space even in the colder months. There is also a “normal” shower available at the main house if desired.
Biodegradable and Greywater Safe Products
The shower water goes down to Bloody Run (the creek at the bottom of the property) and then into the Eel River Watershed. Please be sure ALL your personal care products are biodegradable. This includes shampoo and conditioner, bug spray, lotion, makeup, etc. Greywater safe soap is provided, but please provide your own towels. The house shower also requires greywater safe products.
There are 2 sets of compost toilets on the logging road. Every toilet is a bit different, so please follow the instructions in each specific toilet. Peeing in the woods is encouraged, but please poop in provided toilets.
Getting to the Homestead:
The property is a 25 minute drive from the closest town of Willits. The last 4 miles is a steep dirt road that can be challenging for people new to mountain driving. Totally doable, just steep, and definitely easier during daylight.
There is no public transportation to my house.
For the Carless
A car is not required to come, but please inform me if you do not have your own vehicle. We make trips to town 1-2 times a week and, while I don’t make special trips to town normally, I am happy to make a special trip to pick you up. When I pick you up, I can take you to get supplies like tobacco, food, etc. for yourself before returning to the homestead.
In this area, hitchhiking is a form of transportation people use, and volunteers have used it to get here.
If you are a tourer that has experience on dirt riding up steep grades, getting up to us is possible. There is a one mile steep gravel/dirt section that, even for the strongest tourers, will require pushing the bike. From Willits, the ride will take anywhere from 1.5 - 2.5 hours, depending on how strong a rider you are, and how much gear you have.
Feel Free to Explore, But Stay on Our Homestead
I have 22 acres of woods, mostly steep hillsides, but there are some established paths and roads to take for walks. Try to keep to a Leave No Trace attitude when hiking in the woods. Google that if you don't know what Leave No Trace means. Please do your best to stay on the property or on the dirt road, the neighbors DO NOT appreciate visitors.
It generally does not work out when people bring their pets. Even well behaved pets can upset the balance here, as my dog Zoey is very territorial in her job as farm protector. If you think your pet might be the rare exception, feel free to convince me to change my mind, it can happen. Tell me your pet’s favorite game so I know you read this far and acknowledge you are asking to discuss a rare exception.
There is not wifi up here. Seriously, NO WIFI. Cell service is poor at the property with the exceptions of US Cellular and Verizon. You can walk up the road a short bit to overflow parking where reception is better for other carriers. (A short walk further down the road is a stunning spot to view the sunset.) I can briefly hotspot from my phone if needed, but only for quick messages, my data does have a limit. There is free wifi in town at the Library and at McDonalds.
What else ...
Be Serious In Your Communications With Me
It’s often the case that I have more people interested in coming than we can accommodate, so what you write when you get in touch matters. Please be serious when contacting me and be as clear as you can about your needs, expectations and plans (or lack of plans😉). Long and thoughtful emails with proper sentences and punctuation are a great way to catch my attention. If your initial message to me is less than 6 sentences I will probably choose someone else.
Please Read This Whole Thing Before Asking Questions
Reading this whole thing before asking questions is also appreciated. I’m currently working multiple jobs (cause farm life doesn’t pay the bills...) and I’m grateful when applicants respect my time by not asking questions already answered here. If the answers to your questions aren’t here, I’m really happy to answer them.
Clearly Communicate Changes in Your Plans
If your plans change or you choose a different host please let me know as soon as you can. If I say yes to you, and then you change your mind, please just get in touch. No judgment. If you can’t come, I still need help, and would like the chance to invite others up here as soon as I can. Your clear communication makes this flow smoothly for everyone. Ghosting is difficult for me as it drains time and energy, and is unfair to potential workawayers who I reject after saying “yes” to you.
Social Media for More Information
If you aren’t ready to commit yet, and want more information, shoot me an email asking for more info. I can link you to all my social media sites so you can learn more about us that way.
Show Up With Integrity
I am not your parent, and I also don’t want to be a controlling boss. I expect you to arrive for the daily meeting on time, to do daily chores (If this is your roll) on time, and to do the work requested of you without having to nag or remind. I expect that you will follow house rules, and ask questions when you don’t understand the house rules. I expect that you will take good care of the land and the tools, and you will clean up your work site when you’re finished working each day. I expect that you will act like a mature adult, clean up after yourself, and respect the other members of this community.
My Alone Time
While the main house has an open-door policy throughout the day so that you can charge devices and help with daily tasks, I thrive on alone time, and I appreciate a few quiet hours alone in the morning, and in the evening.
Much of my income earning work is online. I spend a great deal of time on my phone and am often distracted by messages I need to answer or work deadlines. I know this can be frustrating when working with me, so I want to be open and clear about it. I am so very grateful that I can both pay the bills and be involved in my homestead life in this way. I also work away from home and will be gone for a long weekend here and there. There are long term helpers around in these times to supervise and support.
John Is No Longer Involved In The Project
John and I came to a mutual decision to part ways in early 2020. Just to clarify, as I know he is mentioned in the reviews.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read all of this. I greatly enjoy the workaway experience!
Accès Internet limité
Nous avons des animaux
Nous sommes fumeurs
Best for campervans or small trailers. Large flat spots are limited, but available. Mostly shared, but you can move out to the mail road for abundant sunshine if you need to charge your solar panels. Road up here is changing for those unused to mountain dirt roads, tho fully possible for anyone with confidence.
Plus de 2
5 hours a day, 5 days a week maximum
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