Our lodge fits so well in the natural surroundings and it’s such a relief we now live with our animals
Driving up to five times a day from their home two villages away to look after their deer herd was beginning to take its toll on Tom and Chloe Alden.
“Although it was only a five-to-ten-minute drive we were doing it many times a day, with the constant deliveries and calving, and then always having that worrying feeling that we should be there,” explains Tom.
They launched Church Farm and Park Venison, their red deer farming business, in 2017 when they bought an initial 97 acres in south Oxfordshire. With a focus on high welfare standards and a quality, naturally reared herd, it soon started to flourish, and its products are now stocked in two leading UK food retailers. “Our animals required a lot more of our time and it became very apparent we just had to be here permanently, there really was no alternative,” says Tom.
With no residential property on the smallholding, but a pressing need to live on it, the couple started to look at alternatives. “We looked online at log cabins as we knew they were an option and Norwegian Log was one of the first that came up. We arranged to visit the show home in Reading and immediately thought it would be perfect,” says Chloe.
“We also really wanted to get involved in the design of the layout and Norwegian Log welcomes that. It needed to be dog-proof, farm-proof and yet still be a great functional space for a couple of our age,” explains Tom.
As Norwegian Log’s buildings are classed as transportable, so meeting strict agricultural tie planning guidelines, a planning consultant helped them gain consent. As is typical in cases such as this, as rural workers they were granted temporary planning permission for a temporary building. They now have three years to prove they can build their business to meet the council’s requirements, something they are confident they can do.
The planning application was lodged in May 2020, consent given just before Christmas, a Norwegian Log cabin ordered in January 2021 and by August the couple had moved into their new home.
“The world’s weight has been lifted off our shoulders. We are in the heart of the business, have regained control and just feel constant relief,” explains Tom.
The couple feel passionately about their local environment and biodiversity, and their new solid log home is a perfect match. Thoughtfully sited on their land, edged with native hedging, it looks like it has been tucked into the hillside. They have cleverly positioned the lodge for wonderful sunrise and sunset views through large bifold doors in their open plan living, kitchen and dining area. Underfloor heating powered by the cabin’s air source heat pump keeps it cosy. Three bedrooms, a family bathroom, shower room, utility/boot room and farm toilet complete the contemporary set-up. A large decking area with fire pit is the ideal spot for entertaining, and a wood-fired hot tub has views across the fields.
With their business doing so well, Tom and Chloe have recently bought another 40 acres for winter forage and are encouraging clovers and wildflowers for the perfect pasture for their 450-strong herd.
“We wanted a rural peaceful retreat that blended well with its natural surroundings, with an almost off-grid feel, and that’s exactly what we’ve got. Our Norwegian Log cabin is so calm and quiet, and perfect for our outdoors/indoors way of life,” adds Tom.