The Kilkenny cat sinking his claws into farming
MOVE over Babe the pig — there’s a new four-legged shepherd in town and he’s not a work of fiction. Bodacious, the shepherd cat walked into Kilkenny sheep farmer Suzanna Crampton’s life 11 years ago, and now his adventures are being turned into a novel.
Ever since his arrival on Suzanna’s farm, Bodacious has followed her around while she goes about her daily chores.
In 2013, Suzanna decided to set up the Twitter page ‘Cat Shepherd’ to document the activities of Bodacious.
The page has a cult following of almost 12,000 fans and is the reason that Suzanna received a book deal from HarperCollins to write about Bodacious’s adventures.
“Followers kept asking me for stories about Bodacious and a series of publishers approached me to write a book, and luckily I have received an advance to write the novel,” she says.
According to Suzanna, the book will “not be a fluffy one” and will document all aspects of farm life that Bodacious has experienced.
“This will be a very agricultural book and will show the good, the bad and the ugly of sheep farming as, nine times out of 10, Bodacious is with me when good or bad things happen on the farm,” she says
The book will be told from Bodacious’s point of view and is sure to strike a chord with not just cat lovers, but those with an interest in farm life and animals. Suzanna started rearing the rare Zwartable breed of sheep in 2008 when she bought two hoggets and one ewe and hasn’t looked back since.
Using the breed’s unique wool, she designs a range of yarn, blankets and rugs — and they are woven at the nearby Cushendale Woolen Mills in Co Kilkenny.
“My agriculture education was in Vermont in the US, but I did two different lambing apprenticeships in Wicklow in 1987 and returned to Ireland permanently in 1997, the year after my grandmother died, to take over the farm. I wanted to get involved in a rare breed of sheep rather than a pedigree flock so that’s how it all started.”
Suzanna is one of the founding members of the South East Women in Farming group. She says the organisation is a “real support system” for women involved in agriculture in the region.
“It’s a great space for women to talk about agricultural issues without being overshadowed by men.
“I’ve met some wonderful women in the group. Of course they were all thrilled when they heard about Bodacious’s book deal, too.”
You can keep up with Bodacious’s adventures by following his Twitter account @1CatShepherd.