I started 10 years ago with 10 sheep. After the BSE scare, I became concerned about what my family was eating. I did a lot of research into primitive, unaltered breeds, and came up with idea of breeding Manx Loghtan sheep. My son was at the Royal Agricultural College, so I had access to his books and course notes. On holiday, everyone was reading novels and Hello magazine; I'd have a book on grass management.
WHAT DOES MANAGEMENT MEAN TO YOU?
Knowing my livestock really well. This has been a terrible year for fly strikes, where flies bombard the animals with eggs, which hatch into maggots and eat the sheep alive. You have to spot it early. I once saw a magnificent ram battering a ewe to death. I had to get in there and save her while this ram was frothing at the mouth. I only had a little stick.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE/DISLIKE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's hard work and very physical, but it keeps you fit. I love talking to customers and having people visit the farm. And seeing healthy new lambs at lambing time is still wonderfully exciting, so I've never pined for an office job. But I get very attached to the animals. They're little things I've nurtured and they matter to me, so I take them to the abattoir myself, unload them and talk to them as they go in - the sound of my voice reassures them. It's the kindest way for the animals.