A gift for the good life
PUBLISHED: 08:11 28 March 2014 | UPDATED: 08:41 28 March 2014
Feb 19, 2014: Alice Dyer, 22, has had a passion for smallholding since childhood – and it all started with the gift of a cow
Alice Dyer’s smallholding journey began when she was given a Jersey heifer when she was just 10 years old. From that moment on, she has had a passion for ‘the good life’.
Alice, now 22, says she was given the cow by a grateful farmer after her family helped him out during the foot and mouth crisis.
The family have a holding in Kent, and Alice’s mother was a keen goat breeder. Alice says it is from her that she has inherited a love of all things ‘country’.
“I was lucky enough to grow up in a house that had a bit of land and some old cattle sheds. We’d always kept horses, but when I was six my parents let the barns out to a lady keeping some cattle and I spent every spare moment helping out. I’ve been hooked on smallholding ever since, acquiring more and more animals along the way.”
Her parents recall a few years ago when they returned from a short break to find that instead of holding wild parties, Alice had spent all her time and money building a hen house. They were so relieved that a pig hadn’t taken up residence that the chickens, Marge, Ethel and Heather, were allowed to stay, and soon started to lay eggs with the brightest yolks they had ever seen. Whilst other teenagers were worrying about shoes and make-up, Alice concentrated on following her dream of her own land and smallholding.
After completeing a two-year Agriculture course at Hadlow College in Kent, Alice is now reading for a degree at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester.
“University has really helped, not only by educating me in livestock management but enabling me to meet many other like-minded people with the same hobbies and a love for the outdoors.
“Once I graduate in May I would love to go into journalism and I plan to buy my own land and a small flock of South Down sheep.”
Like many young people, Alice makes extensive use of social media. “There is always so much to learn, and Twitter is a great networking tool. Gaining the right followers means you can tweet a problem you’re having with one of your chickens and you get a solution in minutes.”
Alice has gained experience by helping out on a number of farms in her spare time, and has reared several young animals, including two sheep and even a week-old wild boar.
“Hobby farming has always been my absolute passion. I’ve grown up with chickens tapping on the backdoor for scraps, waking up at dawn to feed lambs in my dressing gown and popping to the vegetable patch to dig up potatoes for Sunday lunch.
“I’m not the sort of person that looks forward to a lie in every Saturday; I love to be up early and outside whatever the weather. Most people my age might think call it strange but I can’t imagine my life any other way.”
* Contact Alice on Twitter: @Alicekatemate
PHOTO: Alice with a Golden Guernsey goat