I have had a few inquiries into what it is like to work on a Farm/Home Stay. This is only our second one, but I am thinking it will be similar in other places. First, it really depends on what the Host is looking for in terms of work to be done. Many of the stays we have looked at include fixing thing, gardening, caring for livestock, building barns and other buildings, cutting trails, clearing land, painting and general farm work. In return for this work, the “help-x’er” (that’s us) will receive room or a place to pitch a tent and sometimes meals. Each Host decides how many hours a week is needed (usually between 20 and 32). Many of the hosts do not require a lot of experience, this process is designed to expose people to things in order for them to learn something new. It is really quite a unique program.
Then there is us. I cannot verify this fact for sure, but I think we are fairly old compared to other help-x’ers. But Mike has a lot of varied experience; so when seasoned help is needed, he is the guy to call. I, on the other hand, have spent the last 30 years or so working behind a desk. I can paint a little and do some things, but my skill set is not in huge demand.
Last weekend was a good example of a typical home stay workload. Mike was involved in doing some brush clearing, tree trimming, raking of leaves, and other landscaping-like tasks. The weather was nice, so it seemed like the perfect set of tasks to start on. While I worked in the house a little bit, doing general cleaning and some cooking. Then on Sunday while Mike was trimming I started to paint the house around the front door and Mike ended up finishing it. After working all day and having a meal together, our Host Family invited us to join them in watching a movie.
It is a lovely mix of varied work and being social. Some Farm/Home Stays simply want the work done and afterwards you are on your own. That is fine too. That is why it is so important to read Host profiles and reviews to see if a particular stay is the right fit for everyone. We have been extremely lucky with our two Farm/Home Stays, as the people could not have been nicer or more generous. I am fortunate that my “Martha Stewart” skills are being put to use; even though they were not detailed in the profile, it turns out our busy working mom Host can use an extra hand. I am so very happy to help.
I am not sure how long we will be doing this bartering for room and board, but for now it is a wonderful experience. We are meeting some of the most interesting people along the way. Every day there is something new to learn from our Hosts. Although the process can be a little daunting for someone like me (basically who hates to be out of their comfort zone), it is the most blessed of experiences as it makes me do things that are uncomfortable (not in a bad way) and is making me stronger for it.
I hope that painted a generous picture of what it is like. If you have any specific questions, feel free to let me know and I will be more than happy to answer them.
I am sure each situation is unusual, but that is just an example of what we have experienced in our three weeks of Farm/Home Staying. Thank you for listening!!