We, Jeannie and Tony, were sitting in our car with Emma and Paul our young children down an
unmade farm road on a drizzly day outside a semi-detached house with a three acre field all located just
South of Battle in East Sussex. We had been living in West Wickham, Bromley, Kent wanting a house with
a bit more space and also we wanted to breed dogs.
In March 1986 we moved in to our new 1950’s home, three bedrooms, coal fired central heating,
exclusively decorated with 3 to 6 different wallpapers per room and our pride and joy, a 3-acre field. All
this in an area of outstanding natural beauty in the rolling Sussex Countryside with a view to Beachy Head
some 15’ish miles to the West.
It took us about three years to get the field to pasture from a rough ploughed tangle of
potatoes and a potpourri of weeds and we had in the meantime acquired some chickens and a goat. The goat more
often than not was on top of the flat garage roof. Our breeding of Rottweilers proved very successful one of
our puppies winning best in breed at Crufts. Our two bitches Ketch and Clipper were so gentle, Ketch quite
huge and loving, Clipper petite for a Rotty but so pretty. A much maligned breed.
We began to specialise in rare and fancy breeds of chicken, incubating, bringing on, extending
our stock and selling on surplus birds. We were also given a horse complete with livery from the people we
bought our breeding Rottweiler bitches from. Ranger by name he was a great ride and a great friend but
utilised most of our field now with stable.
Keeping them safe from preditors
Fencing was a great problem, as Ranger always wanted to be with the horses in the next field.
Repairing fences became a regular occupation and took up valuable weekend hours. A very hard decision had to
be made and after much soul searching our much, loved Ranger was found a good new home with a new caring
Fences repaired and having lost many, fancy and expensive chickens to the fox, 14 foxes counted
one evening in our other neighbour’s one acre paddock, we bought our first sheep – Jacobs. At about this time
Jeannie and I saw a programme about the chemicals and rubbish that is fed to animals in our food chain and
the possible side effects on “us”, also the programme high-lighted the intense methods of producing our
So we made the decision to raise as much
livestock as possible to meet our needs – this would be done in a chemical and stress free environment.
So year on year we became more knowledgeable about our chickens and now produce a
decent number of eggs a day, family, friends and neighbours benefiting too.
From the Jacob sheep we rather took to Suffolk sheep (no sniggers please) and our small flock
today mainly comprises Suffolk and Suffolk crosses. You really have to be there at lambing time to experience
a very special feeling – it is almost akin to the ”essence of life itself” and fills you with a, I suppose,
smug inner glow. A very good senior vet and friend told us that he still feels that magical feeling at the
birth of a lamb.
We, further, built a largish pigsty where piglets that we have bought in, two x two per year,
we bring on for pork, prosciutto crudo and pancetta. We are now trying our own dry cured bacon. (Keep
watching our site for progress warts and all – not everything goes smoothly).
In the mean time we built a boarding cattery, “Loose Farm Boarding Cattery” which Jeannie runs
on a very personal and homely way. It is comparatively small taking a maximum 22 cats therefore the personal
touch can be maintained.
So now Christmas and birthday presents, for me, tend to be “Sausage making, Pork, Lamb, Beef
Butchery, Food Hygiene etc courses. That in itself is great because not only do I get to attain skills and
Certification for disciplines I never thought I would have but I also get to make friends and exchange
experiences and knowledge with people doing/trying to do the same as Jeannie and I.
Hopefully we can pass on those learning experiences that will help others starting out on the
stumbling path we have trodden and tripped along sometimes dis-heartening, sometimes joy beyond
To sit down for your main meal of the day with a plate in front of you covered in fresh,
chemical and stress free raised meat to the stock and vegetables all produced by yourselves is indeed a
“Feast fit for Kings and Queens”. You are filled with a sense of achievement and a buzz that makes you grin
like a Cheshire Cat.
Keep watching this space we are still learning and want to share our experiences. Do e-mail our
site with your experiences, advice, and comment all will be welcome.