COROVID-19 UPDATE Due to the Coronavirus putting France in a lockdown scenario for the foreseeable future, we have cancelled all booked guests and volunteers. Melody has ME/CFS, which means a compromised immune system already, and with so much work to be done on the Farm which cannot be put on hold (especially livestock needs), we wouldn’t be taking the risks. We have many decisions to make, as we follow the progress of this virus, and it is highly likely that we will not re-open our profile on Workaway for 2020 opportunities. Hopefully, we will be able to talk to people regarding 2021 travel from autumn, when we all know a lot more.
We have a host profile on Workaway, (currently placed on pause) for Cultural Exchange projects, offering volunteer opportunities to work alongside us to make all these things eventually happen. Learn how to care for livestock including births, health etc, raising the farm up from dereliction, creating a french potager from rough field, permaculture and ecodiversity – basically everything from building to farming to milking to ……….. the list is endless. If you would like to stay with us, we will provide food and accommodation in exchange for your expertise and physical work for a few hours per day, as you learn a new skill, with plenty of spare time to explore and enjoy the area as well.
We would love to offer the opportunity to simply vacation at our homestead, however, at the moment, we are deep in renovation. We do have plans to create a fabulous apartment accommodation for holiday rental, and will update the website over time as this becomes available too. We may be a couple of years away from that at the moment.
Current Priority Job Lists, in which Workaway volunteers can get involved:
- Fencing – wood and electric
- Milking Parlour construction
- Cellar – excavate original Cave access and create Dairy Kitchen
- Bathrooms to create and install
- Create Upper Floors in Barns
- Barn roof reparation
- Boundary Fences and Dry Stone Walling
- Field Shelters to build
- Poulty Pens to build
- Automatic Water Feeders – restore and reactivate
- Ponds to seal to retain natural spring water
- Vegetable Garden (Potager) to create from bare field
- House restoration – everything!
- Animal Husbandry
- General day to day jobs on a farm and restoration project
At this time, it is unsuitable for anyone with children, or pets, to come along on this basis due to health & safety aspects, supervision, livestock safety etc. However, as the restoration progresses, it may be possible to involve children so that they can have a joyful experience of living and working on a farm, learning to appreciate the cycle of life, and simply being included in the animal care experience.
ABOVE ALL REMEMBER: WE ARE A WORKING FARM, WITH WORKING FARM SMELLS AND NOISES
There is nothing we can, or will do, to change that. It is a farm location experience and you must be prepared for that to be part of your Workaway adventure. It is sensible to have wellington boots and suitable clothing that are not special, in case you spend time close up with the animals. Also remember to bring flip flops for your time off when the season demands too.
OUR ANIMAL INVENTORY
We have a mixed range of animals on the farm.
Cats & Dogs (Domestic Pets, all rescues so theres always someone in training and rehabilitation. We foster too)
Horse – Friesian, semi retired, belongs to a neighbour who breeds them
Alpaca – Huacaya
Goats – Angora for fleece, Saanen & Alpine for dairy and meat
Poultry – various breeds of chickens and ducks including:
- Chabo Fauve Bantam
- Barbu de Watermael Bantam
- Polish Pom Pom also known as Polish Frizzy Bantam
- Pompadoe Bantams – named as they were a favourite of Madame Pompadour
- Maran Chicken
- Muscovy also known as Barbary Duck
- Indian Runner Duck
- hopefully to introduce Golden Pheasant in 2020 for ornamental & breed conservation purposes
Silkworm Farm – will commence from March 2020
THE ANNUAL TO DO LIST
Our yearly diary of MUST BE DONE and it may help you to choose when you would like to book your stay with us.
January: Winter is in full flow. Keeping the animals warm and well fed is vital, especially as the goat doe’s are pregnant and only a matter of 8-10 weeks until they are due to give birth. Shelter and Feed is the daily priority. For 2019: we have them inside a barn with the bucks too. The weather is highly changeable right now. Living on a mountain means fogs, frost and snow. Plumbing for hot water and creating a bathroom is a priority for January as we just got our electricity supply upgraded for sufficient power coming into the property – which means we can also run a hot and cold water access to the barn where the babies will birth for hygiene.
February: First Shearing of the year for the Angora Goats. This is a careful time due to continued cold weather and only a month before babies are due. Yet, we could also experience a rise in temperature too. Winter is short and harsh, and then you can be wearing t-shirts with sunbathing in the same week. The goats will also be wormed and have their toes clipped to keep them healthy ahead of the births. We also need to erect a first polytunnel so that we can plan to germinate the initial vegetable seeds.
March: For 2020 we anticipate approximately 9 baby goat births from our Angora, Saanen and Alpine does. Possibility that there may be some bottle feeding requirements. Who will have twins? Might someone even have triplets? This is a fraught time for livestock health care and babies survival rates. Hopefully we are now seed planting in the poly tunnel to prepare for transplanting to the main vegetable plot. Nature being a Law unto itself, we also have to be prepared for the possibility of stillbirths.
April: Livestock work goes up a speed. Alpaca will be sheared by a professional coming over from UK. This is quite an impressive thing to watch. Our alpaca boys will be wormed and toe clipped at the same time. So pedicures will be completed all around. At the same time, the dairy goat babies will now be restricted in access to milk for specific times of day, and milking for human consumption can begin too. Mother and babies are out in the fields and need to be protected from predators. First lot of silkworm production potentially ready to harvest.
May: Continuing all livestock progress and land management day to day routines, to ensure good health and pasture into the summer. Fleece preparations for spinning, weaving etc can begin. Hopefully this is the time that the poultry are keen to present us with chicks too, having laid and sat on eggs from the previous month with the spring weather changes.
June: Brilliant time for longer daylight hours to get more of the outside work of fencing and shelters built up. Spending time in the field doing these jobs bring closer connection to the livestock and they will certainly supervise your efforts with much interest.
July: Hopefully this month is a continuation to the June needs, and the chance to catch up on a few more building projects to take advantage of the longer days. for 2020: Perhaps we may manage to now introduce a couple of cheese tasting events on the terrace.
August: Now is the time for the second shearing of the Angora Goats. The little babies will potentially be ready to provide their first fleece which is of particularly fine quality. We will be worming, toe clipping and looking at their general health in preparation for the October tupping season to generate the 2021 birthing period.
September: We hope to be having a good first harvesting period of the newly created vegetable and fruit garden in 2020. Pickle and Preserve will be underway, as well as looking at winter growing possibilities. We are feeding the goats specifically for the best health to prepare for tupping next month, checking for any deficiencies and all preventative possibilities.
October: Bring the goat bucks to be with the does so that they can tup and begin the next gestation for Spring 2021 births. Monitor milking, dietary needs etc. Checking fencing and making all winter shelter preparations alongside vegetable and fruit harvesting and preservation.
November: Winter livestock preparations. Check for mineral and dietary needs. Check toes clipped etc. Ensure winter feed stock is available. Review list of building needs for winter protection and sustainability.
December: Daily checks on animals for frozen water, constant food availability, sickness, predator evidence, fencing affected by weather damage etc. Short dark days, plenty of indoor work for shelter, barns, dealing with fleeces for production of textiles etc.
And so the year has passed in just a few paragraphs!