Introducing the Mini-Farm at VéloGîtes
Anyone who knows us will understand that we love animals, and it was a simple choice for us to create a mini-farm here at VéloGîtes. We are lucky to have over ten acres of land overlooking the lively village of Availles-Limouzine and so, after the huge work of installing a new swimming pool in Spring 2020, our focus shifted to fencing off areas for the animals.
The fencing work
This was not an easy job! We wanted to create a paddock area for goats and sheep large enough so that it would accommodate 10 to 15 animals. Calculating this, we needed about 2 acres in total. Fencing posts are normally spaced at about 2 meter intervals, to make our fencing strong, we reduced this down to 1.5 meters. This meant that we needed 500 posts in total with a fencing length of 750 meters! Luckily with the help of our neighbour, Anne, we used her tractor with a post hammer, this took just 3 days. We also had to create separate areas within the paddock and so our animal enclosure is split in to three separate areas where we can allow part of the fields to recover while the animals are grazing in another area.
Building the goat shelter
We built the goat shelter out of pallets and ply-board. The weather in our region can get quite cold in the winter, but in the summer months, temperatures can often reach 35 degrees; the shelter had to protect the goats in both extremes!
The animals at VéloGîtes
We always knew that first on the “list” would be goats, they are so much fun and love meeting our guests. Friends of ours in the village, Dani and Paul, called to say that they had two baby goats looking for a home; Willow and Vinnie were our first additions to the mini-farm.
Four pygmy goats were the next additions to the Mini-Farm here at VéloGîtes, and we welcomed Ronnie and Reggie, Otis and Luna to the tribe.
Our goats are all very friendly, we handle them and feed them by hand every day so that our guests can also enjoy them. Goat O’Clock every day is a regular feature, and we encourage our guests to join us! You may well find that one of them jumps on your lap, they LOVE human company.
With over 10 acres to look after here we decided that the next animals that we should introduce are sheep, nature’s very own lawnmowers! Our sheep are Ouessants, the smallest breed of sheep in the world and very hardy. We currently have 5 sheep, all girls, with Josephine the leader of the flock; they can be a bit timid and are always trying to boss the goats around!
Wilbur the donkey
Soon after we arrived at VéloGîtes, we noticed a donkey in a field close-by all by himself. Donkeys are very sociable animals and need company; it seemed as if this donkey was feeing very sad. We contacted his owner who, after 6 months, finally allowed us to re-home him. We had to build a shelter first, with Emilie doing a lot of the work, and then we had to build his confidence in us for the 1 km trip to his new pasture. The move went extremely well, and he now has a new lease of life, chasing the goats around and even letting them stand on his back!
No “mini-farm” is complete without chickens and while we have the smallest breed of sheep in the world, we also have the largest breed of chickens – Brahmas. We have three girls and one big lad, “Rocky” who does like to welcome in the morning on the odd occasion! They are all very gentle giants who will run up to their fencing to see what is going on!
Our current list of animals here is: –
2 Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Lottie and Bruno (always kept in an enclosed area away from guests)
Wilbur the donkey
4 rescue cats, Noodle, Pip, Chicken and Jasper
6 goats, Ronnie, Reggie, Luna, Otis, Willow and Vinnie
4 Brahma Chickens
5 Ouessant sheep
For lovers of nature, VéloGîtes is a very special place, surrounded by glorious countryside with magnificent views and animals all around. Situated at Availes-Limouzine in the Sud-Vienne Poitou region, we enjoy a long Spring, Summer and Autumn rental period. If you would like to spend a fantastic gîte holiday here at VéloGîtes and see our Mini Farm, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +33 (0) 6 04 02 69 15