A family affair
Amanda Marshall talks to Debbie Kingsley about her smallholding and livery yard in Devon
Three generations live down a long farm track that opens out to thrilling views of Dartmoor on one side and Exmoor on the other. Amanda Marshall shares a 34-acre smallholding with her parents, Trisha and Tim, and her five children, Ciaran, Philippa, Bertie and three-year-old twins Ben and Toby.
Tim was in the Army and stationed abroad and most of the first animals were acquired in those years. Amanda explains how the menagerie developed: “I started riding when I was four years old, and got my first horse when I was 14. I spent my summers working with Shires and at a horse sanctuary near where we lived in Norfolk. We had hamsters and gerbils, guinea pigs and dogs and, as we’ve moved from place to place, we’ve collected more animals as we’ve gone along. The first livestock was a couple of sheep given to us by a local farmer, then we gave two Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs to Dad, then there were more than 40 chickens, geese and ducks and some pygmy goats.”
While the free-range hens peck gently but determinedly at the back of my bare legs, Amanda introduces me to the donkeys, the magnificent nine-year-old French Poitou, Woolly, and the bread and butter donkey Teabag with her two-week-old baby, Dave. “We got our first donkeys in 1997, Daisy and Brandy, who were 22 and 23 years old, beach donkeys from Weston-super-Mare, as companions for my horse. We’ve kept