Now, we are not expecting to be all done here in a year or 2; this is a project that will take many years; and our intention is to enjoy the ride and not get overwhelmed! We often remind each other of this! Let me firstly explain how the main house is laid out.
The lower level of of the main house is all storage, wood store, animal feed, small 'chill out lounge'/random spare bedroom and there are 2 toilets & a shower for anyone camping or working here which are very useful.
We live on the middle floor in a 3 bedroom apartment and Gina & Nigel (Ali's parents) are on the top floor until their house in the shepherds cottage is ready to move in to. Once they are in their place, we can build an interior staircase and spread out in the main house.
The right hand third of the building was a shell when we bought it. It used to be the stables; it had a beautiful stone floor and feeding troughs all around. The previous owners raised the roof to the same height as the rest of the building. We hope to build 2 holiday gites in this area; one with 2 bedrooms and one with 3, both with private terraces.
On the lower level of this part of the house, we are building two 1 bed apartments, initially for builders or anyone helping us, and later on possibly for group organisers, like yoga/art teachers or mountain bike guides.
We finally have the permission for windows & doors in the main building, after many trips to the Mairie and masses of paperwork. We need to have those gites built and rented out by summer 2017 and the clock is ticking! We have done the floors, and once we have done the windows and doors, each gite needs fitting out completely. They need a terrace each and we want to build a private hot tub on each terrace too. They also need their own access road to that side of the house so we can maintain some privacy.
Our septic tank needs replacing and we will get a much bigger one. We also need a new heating system using wood; either a gasifier or wood chip, to be decided.
Gina & Nigel future home, the Shepherds cottage, is coming along steadily. See separate page for progress there.
So when the shepherds cottage is completed and the 2 gites & 2 apartments in the stable building, then there is the ruined piggery. We will start by raising the roof and using it for machinery storage. If possible in the future, we would like to have 2 more 2 bed gites here or 3 x 1 bed gites (not decided yet).
We will use the roof to generate solar energy for water heating. The piggery does not yet have habitable status though so we are not sure we will be able to do that but the Maire is a good guy so we're hopeful!
We will need to build a workshop at some point; the barn isn't made for this and access is difficult, but it will do for now. The barn is is also far too beautiful to be used as a workshop anyway (amazing that it was built for sheep originally!).
Perhaps an events hall in the future?
We thought of indoor pool in the barn but not it's not ideal being so close to Nigel & Gina. We have also been told the humidity wouldn't do the structure any good. Otherwise we might be able to build an indoor pool elsewhere, perhaps in between the house & piggery, using the terraced wall. We don't think an outdoor pool would be worthwhile at this altitude (1000m) and being able to use the pool and hot-tub year round would extend our rental season.
We want to grow as much of our own produce as we can, all organically. We just received the rotavator and we have a polytunnel; all we need now is the time & man/woman power to get rotavating, planting and fencing to keep the sanglier out!
As for meat; we have a chickens for eggs and I guess we will eat the young cockerels because you can't keep a lot of cockerels.
We are about to get some Cameroun sheep; they are a rare breed so not easy to find, but are worth having because they don't need shearing & are easy to take care of. We will build up the flock and eat the males, having killed them humanly ourselves here at home. We don't need to eat a lot of meat and it is important to us that if we do eat meat, we know where it came from and how it was treated. We know all our animals will have a great life and will be well taken care of.
Matt is getting his hunting licence because the sanglier (wild boar) need controlling as they dig up your land & produce. This would be the best way to bring meat to the table; animals that have had a completely free life and died instantly.
This is an ECO project, and we are only interested in using sustainable resources for our heating. This is totally achievable because we have lots of wood and lots of sun! So all we have to do now is plan the heating system probably using a large wood gasifier, have that plugged in to the underfloor heating in the new gites, get some solar panels, and try to be as independent as possible.
La Taillede sits on 51 hectares (126 acres) of mostly overgrown forest & pasture; Matt has a big job on his hands to manage it all!
So clearly we will be needing a bit of help! We have discovered 'Workawayers' who volunteer to come and help people with places like ours in exchange for an enjoyable experience, food and some where to stay. We have renovated a mobile home, which was left in one of the paddocks. It was looking quite sad when we got here. It is now waterproof, has a wood burning stove, new lights, a bigger double bedroom, terrace, shower & WC.
So, who's coming to help?!