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help exchange   Host 7998
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Help Exchange

All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 14.5
Persons: Two
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 7998
Country: Wales

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Last Updated: April 28, 2012

Hello there!

We're particularly looking for willing, enthusiastic and hardworking Helpers between early June and late October 2011 to assist with kidding, sheep shearing, haymaking, milking, bottle-feeding, general farm chores and possibly even assistance at local Food Festivals, Farmers' Markets etc.

Age/sex isn't a barrier - however stamina most certainly, is: so please do not apply if you're uncomfortable working in short bursts for long/extended hours; nor equally, occasionally participating in much more energetic/physical activities of shorter duration.

Rest assured, regardless of the hours you are invited to work, your Host(s) will probably at least double that...!

To enable you to get the most out of your stay with us (and owing to the multiplicity of tasks here) we prefer that Helpers are able to work with us, for a minimum of 3 - 5 weeks' duration. If you want a shorter stay we'll squeeze you in, if possible; shorter/longer placements depend on availability & seasonality (we want to offer time & experience to as many Helpers as possible, here).

Help - and helpful on-the-job training will mainly be on hand "24/7" so don't worry if your knowledge & practical experience with "all creatures great & small" is fairly basic - we'll be there to assist & encourage.

Our 36-acre smallholding consists of 25 acres of organically-managed pasture and 11 acres of mixed-deciduous, ancient woodland.

We firmly believe in natural land management; and as such practise self-certified, Low-Impact Farming as recommended to us by the United Kingdom Organic Advisory Service.

Our main business (hand-crafting Wales' original luxury, award-winning artisan goats' milk gelato - which is a low fat/low sugar, all-natural iced cream-style dessert/treat)- revolves around managing our herd of 50 gorgeous chocolate-coloured pedigree British Toggenburg Dairy Goats: from adorable newborn kids to mature milkers and our handsome trio of Stud Males.

We have a state-of-the-art computerised milking parlour and our Milking Herd lives (when not out grazing and enjoying the sunshine!) in what we understand to be Wales' first carbon-neutral agricultural building: constructed almost entirely using wood from sustainable sources with minimal concrete foundations based on bedrock footings; with the goats housed on an entirely natural, free-draining, earth-&-slate floor.

Whilst we currently craft our gelato at Food Centre Wales, we aspire to have our own on-farm Gelato Dairy within the next few months (hopefully, during Summer 2011). This is a major, exciting and challenging project which I'm sure will prove very interesting to any prospective Helpers!

In addition to our lovely goats, we also have two very cheeky Shetland ponies; a helpful hen; a couple of amusing Indian Runner ducks; a modest flock of Shetland x Ryeland sheep running with a Greyface Dartmoor ram; three fascinting "rescued" Maine Coon cats - and a completely-bonkers Border Collie, who is unfortunately not keen on sheep but adores a game of Frizbee with anyone who'll play!

There are also several beehives situated twixt the ancient woods and our organically-managed hay meadows; we are working with arguably Wales' most famous Master Beekepeer to produce the wonderful honey for our delicious Honeycomb Gelato whilst hopefully at the same time, doing our bit to protect these wonderful and fascinating little creatures.

We also have an orchard (apples, plums, quince and apricots); a fruit garden (raspberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, gooseberries and rhubarb); a greenhouse (for seeding and growing-on); a hothouse (with grapes, figs and olives); and a five-bed veg patch...the latter of which is in particularly woeful need of some serious TLC - regrettably we just haven't had either the time or the energy to tackle them properly over the past year as we've been so busy with lambing, kidding, etc although all are at least neat and tidy and well-composted (thanks to other wonderful Helpers!) - for a start.

There are many seasonal foraging opportunities with plenty of wild strawberries, blackberries, whimberries (wild blueberries), sloes, damsons, hazelnuts, elder, sorrel (both field and wood varieties), fungi etc growing here on the Ffarm for your culinary enjoyment, if the Natural Larder is your thing.

Travel a little further afield and there's an abundance of ramsons (wild garlic), samphire, alexanders (a bit like a wild asparagus only better!), shellfish and of course the popular Welsh seaweed dish - laverbread; as well as that other delicious delicacy, sea spaghetti: trust us, it's gorgeous!

Back here on the Ffarm we've quite a few interesting projects this year and would appreciate help with all sorts of things, such as: constructing livestock field shelters; re-roofing the ancient Long Barn; hedgelaying + planting; fencing (electric and conventional); painting outbuildings; plastering; goat herd management + milking; exercising + schooling the Shetland ponies (ride/drive, we have a singles/pairs carriage complete with harness).

We also plan to build an outdoor wood-fired clay oven for artisan pizza and breadmaking; so anyone with experience/expertise of this would be especially welcome! And we have a Bradley Hot+Cold Smoker which needs shelter from the elements, so we can all use it.

Any 'professional' training of our energetic-but-willful Border Collie dog would be hugely appreciated - as would help in the Ffarm Cottage with replastering, repainting, plumbing, flooring, retiling, relining chimneys, installing a woodburning stove etc so we can make the most of the modest space we have.

Then there's re-establishing our much-needed kitchen gardens; helping to care for the other animals and poultry; woodland management (although chainsaw use for cutting firewood is restricted solely to those who hold a full-and-legal chainsaw license); and possibly even assisting us with crafting delicious gelato (once operations move on-farm, full-time).

And we haven't even mentioned that you might also acquire valuable marketing skills if helping us to sell our gelato at some of Wales' wonderful festivals & shows, as well!

If you're just looking for a tranquil break but have other more office-based skills to offer such as IT/website building; accountancy; marketing; photography etc then again, you are also welcome to join our diverse team.

So, we have projects aplenty: as a result we can offer many opportunities to enthusiastic, hardworking & motivated HelpXers - any/all skills you can bring here, will be extremely welcome.

According to the seasonality of your stay, perhaps you'd like to help with major annual farming community tasks such as sheep shearing and haymaking - energetic and convivial work as all the neighbours 'muck in' together.

Owing to the diminutive size (and absurdly cluttered state!) of our Ffarm cottage, Helpers are at present housed in the spacious five-berth Caravan situated above the orchard and sheltered by two magnificent, massive, beautiful ancient beech trees.

Rest assured, our Caravan is sublimely tranquil; and cannot be viewed from the cottage so has the advantage of complete seclusion for the occupants ("baa" for the odd nosey sheep, goat or pony grazing the adjacent pasture!).

The Caravan enjoys full mains electricity with digital colour TV/radio; and wifi broadband Internet access for both PC and Mac systems albeit we respectfully request that Internet users do not attempt to download films or "hog" prolonged use of YouTube as it can interfere with our Ffarm's Broadband connectivity.

There's a fully-fitted kitchen with everything you need including a gas hob, oven, fridge & sink plus much new equipment such as combination oven; crockpot (slow cooker); hand blender & electric kettle.

There is a cosy double bedroom; a galley/library area; and comfy lounge with sofas, table, the aforementioned digital TV/radio plus plenty of overhead and bunk stowage for all your bits-and-pieces; not to mention panoramic windows so you can admire the stunning vista, whatever the weather.

You'll be relieved to know that the hot water (sink + power shower) plus the fully-flushing loo, are all plumbed directly into the septic tank so there's no niffy emptying of your abultions to endure.

It's all extremely comfortable; not to mention that the Caravan boasts the finest views across the Ffarm, looking out to the magnificent Preseli Mountains and our wonderful woodland valley (please email us for more photos).

There's a wooden table and chairs with a (summer) parasol in your private Caravan Garden where you can sit and relax, to enjoy a glass of wine/beer/goats' milk/whatever, as you observe the stunning sunsets; we also have a lovely little barbeque area in the Orchard which we are happy for you to use whenever you want. Or do join us in our peaceful, secluded garden on the rare occasion we actually manage to snatch a break...!

For Help Exchange Families, toddlers and pre-school children (appropriately covered by your OWN fully-comprehensive insurance for the duration of your stay) are catered for with the same type of play equipment we supply for our young goats(!), as both species of 'kid' evidently enjoy similar activities.

Please note that whilst we welcome accompanied children belonging to HelpX Helpers assisting here, regrettably children at or under the age of five years are not permitted close "petting" contact with designated farm animals (& if over that age, & up until the age of 16, MUST be supervised by a full-time, officially-appointed member of Ffarm Fach staff) owing to defra/health & safety/insurance restrictions - sorry. As with toddlers and pre-school children, youngsters up to the age of 16 must similarly be fully insured by their parnets/guardians, whilst staying here.

There are two adult bicycles on which Helpers are free to explore the local area during free time if your hosts are (apologetically) otherwise engaged with work. The charming local market town of Newcastle Emlyn is within easy cycling distance for the moderately fit and healthy; with the peaceful journey affording extensive views of the local countryside.

Owing to our long-and-erratic hours, we very seldom have a chance to cook regular, planned meals. We thus respectfully request that for most of the time our Helpers should expect to be self-catering, enjoying the plentiful and varied groceries we provide. If you have specific dietary requirements we ask you advise us in advance (2-5 days) so that we can cater for you accordingly.

We have installed a brand new "eco-friendy" communal washing machine (plus a tumble drier - for emergencies/severely inclement weather) in a building convenient for the mutual benefit of everyone here on the Ffarm.

We do hope that you appreciate that whilst we are happy for individual working Helpers to do a weekly laundry wash of their own clothes, we must also offer our apologies thar we cannot also afford any non working childrens' laundry, much as we wish we could. However, there is an excellent, efficient, modestly-priced launderette in the local town which is open every day until 9pm.

So: whilst you'll be mostly self-catering (with good-quality groceries etc provided) it would be lovely to share the occasional communal meal together as/when our time allows, which Jo and/or Tony will of course prepare if as a "Help Exchange Family" we're not otherwise eating at one of our excellent local taverns.

The Ffarm itself is situated down a half-mile-long drive; and being ringfenced by our own land it is an extremely tranquil, safe and peaceful place: generally the only sounds here are those of Nature.

The local area is rich with history and legend. There are many castles and ancient monuments (dolmens, burial mounds and even a reconstructed Bronze Age village)to visit, not to mention the glorious coastline and beautiful beaches stretching from Carmarthen in the south all the way up to St David's in the west and Aberystwyth, heading north.

There's a fantastic variety of wild flora and fauna, with opportunities to watch magnificent Red Kites feeding at close quarters near Brecon; Ospreys in Snowdonia; the elusive otters in Cilgerran; and it's even possible to see dolphins and porpoise plunging through the waves when the weather is calm. Local boat rides to visit them, or out to Skomer Island to view the Grey Seal & Puffin colonies, are highly recommended.

Dramatic mountain ranges punctuate the landscape with the Brecon Beacons, the Preseli Mountains & majestic Snowdonia all around an hour's drive away.

Ffarm Fach means "Little Farm" in Welsh, and our lovely homestead is exactly that. We like to joke that it's "small but perfectly farmed!" We passionately believe in practising Low-Impact Farming; reducing food miles, along with that of our own carbon footprint; and of of course, caring for this wonderful Environment in which we have the privilege to live & work.

So if you feel the same; enjoy handcrafted artisan iced cream and fancy learning all about fascinating, frolicking, delightful, gentle goats; or if you relish a challenge and fancy tackling any or many of our exciting projects whilst staying in a lovely, peaceful place and a wonderful little slice of Paradise - then our Ffarm is definitely for you.

So; as we said before....Croeso - Welcome!

(Sorry, here comes the Boring Bit):

PLEASE NOTE: we respectfully request that guests are NON-SMOKERS; and owing to our neighbours' sheep flocks we cannot and do not allow other peoples' dogs on the property.

Whilst we welcome children of all ages here, regrettably those under the age of five are not permitted close contact with the farm animals owing to defra/health & safety/insurance restrictions - sorry.

We welcome Farmstays for an average one month's duration. Depending on seasonality, we may be able to extend this timescale: however; owing to not only our Ffarm's popularity but also our desire to give as many Helpers as many diverse opportunities as possible (thus enriching our own cultural tapestry!) we encourage a "one-month" policy.

But if you're single, & don't mind sharing the Caravan with another single resident Helper - then fine; we'll "juggle" things to (hopefully) make the schedule work for everyone involved.

We respectfully request that Helpers offer the following information on arrival. Details requesed are:

- Full name; citizenship; passport number; email address; mobile telephone number; date of arrival/departure.

Helpers are expected to show their passport or other suitable ID to their Host on arrival; have an initial photograph taken; & be happy to pose for further photos throughout their stay.

We would also be delighted if, at the conclusion of your Help Exchange farmstay, you'd leave a comment in our Visitors' Book - the more, the merrier!

So - if you're interested and would like to know more - we can send you our Help Exchange Ffarm Supplement; along with further details of all the quirky personalities here (after all we know each-&-every one of our animals, by name - plus inevitably every Helper has their own favourite!).

PHOTOS: 1. Jo & Tony (also Caprine Herd Matriarch Wolfie plus her nosey pal, Eek); 2. 2010's kids enjoying life in the "Playpen"; 3. Our fantastic computerised milking parlour; 4. The Valley, on a snowy Winter's morning; 5. The Valley, on a warm Summer's evening; 6. Our lovely old Long Barn at sunset (with traditional drystone-walled pigsties in foreground).

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