Hello. We are David and Suzette and we live in the outskirts of a small village called Saint Pardoux in the heart of the Gatine.
We have a smallholding with some small animals, including, chickens, ducks, quail & rabbits.
We buy-in pig, beef, lamb and sometimes goat from local free-range farms and butcher/process ourselves.
We have family cats..
We also have a bee hive.
We also run a small boarding kennels/cattery for dogs and cats for both English and French clients who go on holiday.
We moved here in 2008 to get out of the 'rat race' and are now having fun living 'the Good Life'... Although some days Tom and Barbara have a lot to answer for :-)
We spend most of our time outdoors or in with the dogs and cats.
Looking after the animals and maintaining our land is a very busy job. For us our animals are our top priority as well as our source of food which we try to hatch/grow, dispatch/harvest, butcher/process and prepare ourselves.
David does most of our butchery and we enjoy making our own sausages, bacon, ham, burgers, gammon, pate, soups and chutneys.... Time permitting!
We have a poly-tunnel and a large vegetable garden and we try to grow all our own vegetables. Sometimes this is successful ... but not always!!
Early in the season we have salads from the garden and we do have some potatoes left. We eat Brassica nearly all year from the garden too. chillies work well but we're not very good at root veg.. maybe it's the soil?
Tomatoes like the polytunnel and we managed to process enough for the whole year.
I've made sloe gin and rumtoff this year from the fruit around the area and it tastes yummy.. but is very alcoholic!
david made a wonderful sweet chilli sauce and a hot chilli pickle that all our friends like and my pickled quails eggs made it down to Spain with a repeat order for 2019!
We have plans for learning to use the smoker and dry curing meat and salami etc
We have a professional-type kitchen where we have just started to hold cooking lessons - a local chef comes along and teaches different dishes and then we all sit down and eat it - with the obligatory glass of wine....... :-)
we hope to hold some Chinese cooking lessons in 2019, but the chef is not confirmed yet.
I like to make bread, although this is not always successful... but the chickens always eat the 'failures' :0)
I am also involved in some of the local animal charities and help out where I can with rescue and re-homing, fundraising events and sponsoring.
For our 'down-time' we like to chill in the garden with friends, around the bbq and fire pit drinking wine and chatting... We also have a pool which is a lovely necessity in the heat of the summer as the only way to cool down... So midnight, candlelit dips are fab...
It's a lovely area for bike riding and walking with designated routes around the area.... the countryside is beautiful here ... Albeit a bit hilly!
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help around the house
Like any smallholding, different times of year give us different jobs and challenges and as you can imagine, there is always plenty of jobs to keep us busy and our 'to-do' lists never seem to get any shorter!
So here is an idea of the some of the jobs you could be helping with...
Animals – feed/water, cleaning out, maintaining housing and general husbandry. As well as certain times of the year, hatching, breeding and the rearing of the youngsters.
Harvesting the honey twice a year is a fun job ...
Garden and poly tunnel – rotovating, digging, planting, maintaining, potting on, watering and weeding (.......lots and lots of weeding)!
Buildings - painting, maintaining, we hope to lime-point a few of the stone walls at some point.. - Another thing on our list :).... constructing new animal houses and shelters. ...
The rest of the land requires hedge cutting and clearing, grass cutting, striking, felling trees, removing brambles/stinging nettles, putting up and maintaining fences and chopping/stacking wood for the winter.
Kennels/cattery- cleaning, dog walking, cleaning, feeding, cleaning, cat cuddling, did I mention cleaning? The kennels is also due to be painted very soon!
The house – the usual stuff, day to day chores cooking, cleaning and from time to time painting and decorating.
you will be treated as part of the family. As such we hope you will help with meal times and general 'home/family' stuff and not count this towards your 'working hours'.
All meals/snacks/drinks will be provided.
Accommodation is either: (subject to availability)
Twin room upstairs in the family home - sleeps up 2
You will share all amenities (kitchen, bathroom, toilet, lounge) with us and my 85 year old Father-in-law.
Converted Grange -sleeps up to 3 .. (2 steps to get into the building, ladder to double bed)
The only down side I'd that you will need to return to the house for the bathroom which is about 40m ..... (we are in the process of making a dry-toilet next to the grange... maybe a solar shower in the summer too?)
As with most outdoor jobs It can be VERY hard work and often wet, muddy and very cold in the winter.
We don't expect you to have all the knowledge or skills to help us, but you need to be enthusiastic, hardworking and willing to learn.
We don't mind smokers, but you will have to smoke outside, and away from the house.
You must like and respect all animals.
We will be willing to collect or drop off up to 1 hour of our village, between the hours of 9am and 9pm only
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
More than two
25 hrs per week