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help exchange   Host 19915
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Mahone Bay
All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 30
Persons: 1 or more
Category: Non Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 19915
Region: Nova Scotia

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Last Updated: June 1, 2018

Some space available for June onwards!

I moved to this beautiful region of Nova Scotia 5 years a go after living 10 years in Britain. I've recently (finally, after much work!) opened our artisanal micro-scale goat cheese dairy. I run a pastured ethically minded operation with dairy goats, heritage breed pigs and poultry.

My home (and the farmstead) dates from the 1700s when German settlers first arrived to this region of Canada.

The farm is a mix of woodlands, pastures, an old orchard, some ponds etc. and is near the gorgeous seaside town of Mahone Bay (10 mins by car, 30min by bike) but also completely private. Most everyone comments that the farm is a beautiful and peaceful place.

There's kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding etc nearby. The UNESCO World Heritage Town of Lunenburg (lots of German and sailing heritage) is also nearby and Halifax is an hour away. The South Shore of NS is known for its beautiful coastline, antique shops, wineries and sandy beaches.There are multiple farmers markets in the vicinity.

Animal welfare is important to me - so if you want to learn about animal husbandry and generally like being around animals, and don't mind physical work, you should enjoy being here. The reverse is true if this isn't your cup of tea. Aside from goats, we also raise heritage pigs on pasture and heritage chickens and guinea fowl. And we have livestock guardian dogs. Being out on pasture means we move our goats and pigs around - that's an ongoing chore to move electric fencing but it's healthier for them and for us (and the land too). There's lots of mucking out, but goat cuddles too.

I teach cheese making and sometimes other heritage skills. We have an eco-chalet farmstay with Air BnB guests, so helpers often help with both. I also have an off grid cabin that's kind of neat and helpers sometimes stay here.

Helpers assist with many different things, depending on the season - feeding, cleaning stalls, milking, making cheese, helping with fencing, wood cutting/stacking, gardening (seeding, weeding, etc), renovation projects, house tidying - basically help to keep the place running smoothly. Usually there's lots going on and an opportunity to learn specific as well as general things. If you have particular learning interests please let me know.

No prior farm experience is needed - though enthusiasm and a cheery attitude is. A lot of farm work is physical.

I prefer helpers who can stay a minimum of 2 weeks, 3 or 4 weeks in summer (longer term apprentices can also sometimes be arranged). A private room in the house is the usual set up, or you may team up with 1-2 others in the off-grid woods cabin.

We require 5-6 hours of help/day typically in winter and 6-7 hours of help 5 days a week in other seasons, in exchange for room and hearty board ('The best food we've eaten in our year in Canada' ..). We start about 8 in the morning in summer with chores and repeat in the early evening, with usually a project or two in between, or sometimes a visit off farm to a farmers market, to the beach etc. Ideally we have 2-3 helpers at any one time, depending on season, so one helper may start later in the day and do evening chores with both overlapping on a special project.

Bikes are available. For stays of at least 2 weeks we may be able to collect you in Halifax or arrange a ride. Non-smokers only please. Vegetarians and vegans cannot be accommodated (sorry); although we do often eat vegetarian meals we can't arrange for special meals when we don't and we try to be self sufficient from what we produce (as much as possible).

I frequently host foreign students and enjoy having cheerful folks about. Having traveled a lot myself (to over 50 countries) and worked professionally in supporting others to do the same on volunteer placements around the world, it's great to continue to support cross-cultural learning.

Placements available year long.

Note: If you secure a placement, please show up and commit to the time allotted (no shows are extremely difficult to cope with on a small farm). This is not a farm holiday, though it is considered my most anyone who's stayed, to be a great place to be.

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