We are from the Isle of Wight and started thinking about running a farm of our own when we were living in West Sussex in 2005 where Paul was a herdsman on a large dairy farm. We started applying for tenancies advertised in the Farmers Weekly and Knaveswell Farm was our third application. We remortgaged our house, took out a bank loan and bought a herd of 80 cows plus enough farm equipment to get up and running. Then we left our jobs, packed up our lives, and the kids, and moved to Dorset ready to start farming in March 2007.
It was a wrench to leave friends and family in Sussex and we were anxious about our three girls having to start over in new schools. We had to promise Issy (8) a pony and Caitlin (7) would only move if she could have a pig! Luckily Georgie (5) was happy with the farm cat that we took on from the previous tenants! Several years later and we are pretty settled into farm life. Issy got her pony and then moved on to horses and Caitlin’s love affair with pigs ended when Ginger, her Hampshire pig, decided it was more fun to regularly escape and run round the cottage garden (much to the amusement of guests). We still have the farm cat but Georgie now prefers the company of the cows and does much of the milking after school and during the holidays. She has her own pedigree Ayrshire heifer, Bella, who will hopefully have her first calf next year, so starting Georgie’s own herd!
We knew when we moved to the farm that milking cows alone would, sadly, not support us financially. The farm had a second house and Knaveswell Farm Cottage is let as a self catering holiday cottage. A couple of fields on the farm had been used for basic camping and we developed these to offer glamping holidays. For the first 7 years we operated with a company who owned the 10 tents on site and sent guests to us but in 2015 we set up independently with 4 brand new, en suite safari tents. We added a 5th tent for the 2017 season.
We look forward to meeting you on the farm!