Country Smallholding

Shar­ing the dream

Sue Kemp talks to Deb­bie Kings­ley about how she and her fam­ily com­bine work, ed­u­ca­tion and smallholdi­ng at their hol­i­day cot­tage com­plex in Devon

- Animals · Wildlife · Southampton

Sue Kemp, her daugh­ter Anna and part­ner Andy have more en­ergy than most. Ideas for their lovely hol­i­day com­plex and wed­ding venue Coun­try Ways are never in short sup­ply, and the way they have com­bined their love of smallholdi­ng and their busi­ness is in­spi­ra­tional. “We’ve al­ways fan­cied ‘the good life’ – even when liv­ing in Southamp­ton we were al­ways grow­ing things, en­joyed the out­door life and eat­ing fresh lo­cal pro­duce, and we had ponies, poul­try and an­i­mals around us. Mov­ing to Devon clinched it; we could ex­pand what we were try­ing to do and, be­ing in Devon, you are openly en­cour­aged to enjoy ev­ery­thing there is about coun­try life. It seemed only right to go on a smallholdi­ng course to find out more about ex­pand­ing the smallholdi­ng side of the busi­ness we were buy­ing, a self ca­ter­ing cot­tage com­plex with a small farm.”

The fam­ily moved to Coun­try Ways, High Bick­ing­ton, in April 2012, hav­ing spent a year in a rented farm while property hunt­ing. “This gave us the hunger to de­velop the farm. We set about re-fenc­ing four suit­able sized pad­docks for small num­bers of an­i­mals. The only an­i­mals we have for the freezer are our Berk­shire pigs and we try not to name them or pet them as of­ten as the other an­i­mals, try­ing to main­tain a dis­tance to avoid be­com­ing too at­tached. In the early days we had them all year round but now pre­fer to keep them when they can enjoy the sum­mer weather. We re­cently gave up keep­ing sheep; we had four Devon and Corn­wall Long­wool ewes and a ram but found the care very de­mand­ing, es­pe­cially hav­ing cho­sen such a large breed, dif­fi­cult for my daugh­ter Anna and me to han­dle. We now have pygmy goats, minia­ture Shet­land ponies, minia­ture don­keys, al­pacas, fer­rets, rab­bits and rein­deer and will be shortly ven­tur­ing into wal­la­bies as a friendly and eas­ily man­age­able al­ter­na­tive to sheep as grass graz­ers.

“Anna and I run the farm side of the busi­ness, buy­ing in the feed, choos­ing and buy­ing stock, de­cid­ing what to keep, breed or sell and the gen­eral wel­fare of the an­i­mals, in­clud­ing when to call the vet. Andy has taken on the re­spon­si­bil­ity

 ??  ?? Sue Kemp with her part­ner Andy anddaugh­ter Anna
Sue Kemp with her part­ner Andy anddaugh­ter Anna

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