The Kilkenny cat sink­ing his claws into farm­ing

Irish Independent - Farming - - PHOTO DIARY -

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.

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