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 “Our sheep fleeces are sent to the British Wool Board and used in tweed, carpets or sold to local spinners.”
Snouts down: Oxford Sandy and Black pigs All images:
Andy Abbott
Chloe Gridley with a Boer Cross goat
Harry Valais Blacknose sheep
‘ looking after family and tending to the animals. “Even though it’s hard work, it’s our hobby and we love it.” says Fay. “Mind you, we don’t have holidays – perhaps a few days here and there in our caravan - because such a huge part of our lives is taken up with the livestock.”
The ethos of the smallholding is to produce largely native, rare-breed, free range meat, reared to the highest animal welfare standards. Inspired by Baroness Rosie Boycott and her smallholding experience in Somerset, Fay is passionate about her animals and loves every aspect of the work. “The only thing I find hard,” she says, “is the heavy lifting. Straw bales are so heavy. But I actually don’t mind lambing and enjoy snuggling in a sleeping bag in the lambing shed during February and March.”
Renting 20 acres of grassland and woodland from the local farmer, the smallholding is very much a family affair. Kevin, who runs his own building company, and daughters, Chloe (18) and Maia (16), get stuck in whenever they can. Chloe is studying agriculture at Writtle College and is vital to the business. “We could not do this without her,” says Fay. “She is young, fit, has plenty of livestock husbandry experience and has lovely small hands when it comes to lambing!” Chloe has aspirations to be a shepherdess and their working border collie, Nell, is also part of the team. Fay explains that they are building up the business for Chloe to take over when the time is right.
“I had no smallholding experience,” admits Fay, “but read plenty of books and went on a course to learn how to kid the goats. Kevin was brought up on the Chadacre Estate and spent his childhood acquiring practical farming skills. The rest, we’ve learned as we’ve gone along.” As members of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) they are rearing

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