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HERE'S THE THING
After many sleepless nights, tears and worries as big as mountains, we came up with this idea to crowdfund the build of an off-grid, eco, wooden lodge, and do so by offering the most amazing rewards for every very kind donation.
We're Simon & Debbie from Hidden Valley Pigs. If you're into smallholding you might have seen us on TV, read one of Simon's books, heard us on the radio or even been on a course with us.
The problem is, we spent 2 years getting full planning permission to build the lodge, then a further 3 years saving up to build it. In January 2020 we put a deposit down to have the timber frame erected.
Then Covid and lockdown happened. With all forms of income suddenly switched off, we had to postpone work and use our savings to keep the animals fed and cared for.
Effectively, we lost all the build money we'd saved up (not the deposit, that's safe).
It's amazing. Honestly. Just 92sq meters, off-grid, larch clad on the outside, on stilts, eco lodge. Just amazing.
The site has been excavated and the foundations dug and ready.
The timber frame will cost £30,000 to erect. We can beg, borrow and use credit cards for 10k, but we're looking for funding help with the balance.
Once the frame is up we can do the rest piecemeal, bit by bit when we have the money, and will all pretty much be done by hand using reclaimed and foraged materials wherever possible.
Once complete the lodge will double up as a space in which we can continue teaching, sort of the ultimate in self sufficiency, lol.
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We live a hard but totally rewarding life. Here on our self reliant smallholding we generate and store our own electricity, have a compost loo, collect rainwater for cleaning and showering, and coppiced wood for heating, all while looking after and caring for a motley crew of carefree animals.
Together we run life changing courses on smallholding experiences, butchery and food processing without using modern preservatives.
Home is currently a static caravan, in which we live with Solomon and Phoebe our Great Danes. Space is a premium, especially on the sofas or in front of the log burner, lol.
Outside our 'hall of fame' of hooligans including: Senorita the not-so-micro-pig and most opinionated female in the world, Bear an agoraphobic boar, Trouble his wife of right now, Trouble's Daughter his next wife on the list, assorted piglets, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, quail, a cat with Tourettes, George and Ellie the goats, Georgie Girl and Alfie the horses and more.
Many of them are rescues, whose backgrounds you don't even want to think about. But with us their lives are as natural, free-range and happy as we can possibly make them.
Sometimes that's good, and sometimes that makes them hooligans, but one thing's for sure you've never met a happier group.
As things stand, that's uncertain.
With your help, if we're lucky enough to get the funding we want to secure our future by building the lodge, and then use it to do everything we can to give back by continuing to teaching all that we've learnt, pass on the life skills, and of course by taking in more fur and feathered waifs, strays and rescues.
The alternative, if we're not so lucky, we don't know.
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THAT'S WHERE YOU COME IN
We know life is tough for everybody right now. Covid has impacted all of us. But if you can help by glancing down the list of rewards on the right, and if anything grabs you, maybe think about pledging.
Maybe you're already coming to the area on holiday – Exmoor is stunning, and Lynton and Lynmouth are incredibly beautiful. If you are, maybe one of the local rewards might appeal?
Alternatively, there are many rewards that could be sent or emailed that would still be fun.
Either way, your help means the world to us, but more than that, much more important, we want you to be part of our gang, to enjoy and be part of our fun, exhausting, terrifying, amazing, brilliant world, and help us secure the future for our smallholding and our amazing group of animals by building the lodge. Something we can't do without you.
Of course if you'd prefer to donate anonymously, that's totally cool too. We completely understand and are so incredibly grateful for your generosity.
Contact us via email at [email protected]
Our website is www.hiddenvalleypigs.co.uk
Find our facebook page here
Take care and stay safe.
Simon, Debbie & the mob xxx