Thursday 11 November 2010

Man on a mission, the potted version.

The self confessed statement of 'I grew up on a farm' is a condition that never leaves you: 'you can take the man from the farm but never the farmer out from the man'. And so, as a second son leaving the family farm in my late twenties and working my way through various agricultural careers, I eventually found myself involved in corporate business. I had an office in the city, commuted by train in a suit, rubbing shoulders with folks I neither knew, understood nor liked. I sometimes discussed with my peers the days gone by when I groomed champions, or flew a herd of cattle to Australia, but it only met with disbelief. Let’s just say, what I was doing I did for the money. I connived to find time to still enjoy breeding and showing a few livestock but fitted it around a day job, as I raised my flocks of texel and hebredian sheep. I managed to keep an active involvement in a few major shows too and was even deputy chief cattle steward at Royal Smithfield show for a while. But I was never free.
I am not sure what exactly made me snap, but one day, the moment arrived for me to say enough is enough; I always knew it would come. What I was left with was unemployment alongside a bag full of memories, experiences many folk could never even dream of. That and a new life, to do with what I pleased.
What I pleased to do was to do less, and enjoy more. That is what drove me to buy a smallholding in South Western France, with a big old house, 3 hectares of grassland and orchards, long sunny days and a woman I wanted to share it with. I now have only 4 sheep, one which has the horns of a Norfolk, the others just mediocre ewes serving a purpose. I collect the fruit to make preserves and this year hosted the first and highly successful Aquitaine chutney festival, a gathering of chutneyheads to compete for the coveted prize of pickle of the year. Although Wendy keeps a day job, we are more or less self sufficient. My summer days are busy with building and renovating the house and my winter days are busier still, filled with writing.
My first novel called on my experiences as a cattle stockman in search of that holy grail, supreme champion of the Royal Smithfield show. Seen through the eyes of the animal, it tells a unique tale of a calf overcoming adversity and setting out on a special journey towards her destiny. I was never exactly sure who would buy it, but buy it they have, and judging by the positive feedback I constantly receive, they have all enjoyed it, young and old. It is called the Right Colour.
I have since moved on to children’s fiction, again using my livestock experience to create a series of books about farm animals and their adventures. It is truly the best job anyone could ever have.

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