Last year in July 2014 my husband (Phil) and I were sucessful applicants for a Tenant Farm called Kilsham in Petworth West Sussex.  I am going to start to write about being a Tenants Farmers Wife before I am 40 (only a few months away!!) I will hope to write down the ups and downs, trials and tribulations of being a tenant, all the farming activities we will undertake as a family (we have two boys Tom & Archie) and how we hope to turn this farm into our business and most importantly our home.  I hope that you can follow us through this journey.

A Tenant Farmers Wife Before 40 - Part 1

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So I thought I would do the scary thing and start 2015 with writing a blog (seeing as its supposed to be the in thing to do?!)  Is going to be mainly on our family’s new adventure ‘A Tennant Farmers Wife Before 40’.  It's not going to have poignant meaning full phrases but just our new experiences ahead, the highs and lows and about how we hope to turn the farm into a business and a home with my family.  At this point I would l just like to introduce Tom (8) and Archie (7)  My first blog is going to be a long one but it will have lots of pictures to show you the developments so far.  Hope you enjoy.

So it was back in April 2014 that we heard about Kilsham Farm coming up for tender and Phil and I thought we would have a crack.  Phil went to the viewing day on 7th May with his father and then we went back with an agent on 16th May to have a look around the farm-house and buildings. Looking through the cobwebs, very colourful wall paper and some vibrant yellow and orange paint it was a lovely warm and very large house.  After leaving you should not do it but I kept thinking about where you would put furniture and pictures!

We had reached a point here at Park Farm where it was going to be this or moving as we needed to do something for ourselves. It’s been nice here for the boys growing up with their Grandparents, Aunts and Cousins, having this as a wonderful starting point but we needed to have a new start. Phil put his head down and worked very hard producing many a spreadsheet and he did himself proud with many formulas. We stressed and stressed even more when the deadline tender approached and we only just got an agent, also the all clear from the bank if things would work out.

One minute you heard that it was just going to be one of the big farms and then the next it would be for a family. Well on 10th June we put our tender in and then just sat and we waited.  Phil then had a phone call from Smiths Gore on 19th June to tell him that we had been selected for the first round of interviews.  Two agents came on 2nd July to meet us and discuss what our plans would be. At this point I would like to just say how proud I am of Phil and he just sailed through this with all plans, rotations, and stocking etc.  I studied agriculture and concentrated on pigs, but after having children and not really being involved in the farming scene anymore for many years I had become very rusty. I am completely behind my husband and we are a great team and I know we work well together and would put our hearts and souls into this. 

So they went away and we just sighed and said we would have to wait and see. It was a tense time and then Phil had a call while at work on 14th July to be informed that we had got through to the last three for an interview with Lord Egremont.  Wow to go from giving it a go, may be possibly getting a look in, to panic we have no agent, and also many saying you will be very lucky on your first attempt at going for a Farm Business Tenancy to this.  So I had to go shopping for Phil to get some new trousers and a shirt (cost me an arm and a leg from a reputable mens clothes shop in Petworth!) On the 17th July we were to have our interview with Lord Egremont, I felt sick at work and then waiting in the Leconfield office for Phil was so tense. We gave each other a hug and just reminded ourselves we just had to be ourselves. It was over in a flash, again Phil was brilliant, to watch someone who always kept saying he could not do this and had no confidence in himself to see him flourish from start to finish was just brilliant.  Afterwards we departed as I had to pick the boys up from school.  Back home we could reflect and Phil was very worried about how it went and how we came across.  We were ourselves which is all you can be. Just before I departed from home to take Tom to a club Phil had a call that evening and he was so shocked and happy, he put the phone down and informed me that we had got it! Shock, Joy, Excitement, Worry all came over us.  This was it a New Beginning! but my what a daunting one it is.  It still has not sunk in to both of us that yes now is the time to flourish and it is the real world where we will have to grow up (still trying to be and feel like 21 again!) We are going to be on a steep learning curve for business but we both wish to grasp it with both hands and succeed.

We have many people to thank and firstly its Phil's Dad reputation for the way he has farmed and the way Phil has farmed with him producing top quality lambs and farming sheep to the top spec.  This had obviously not gone unnoticed to many who know Louie and who know how hard a worker Phil is.   We heard this over the coming months.  Also to my parents for their huge support and to friends who gave us many words of encouragement.

So what happened after all this. Well it has been frustrating for us with regards to not being able to live at Kilsham Farm.  As a family we are so looking forward to new beginnings having a blank canvas to start with (for me to learn the ropes, and set up a B&B) The Farm house was in desperate need of some TLC and is undergoing a huge transformation/ renovation.  We were supposed to be in on 29th   September when the Tenancy was signed but not a chance this would happen. Christmas has come and gone and we will just wait and see. Each week you would go up and see this magnificent house and farm and I still cannot believe that this will be our house one day.

Here are some pictures of the transformation which Kilsham Farm House has undergone.

Kilsham Farm House

Front View

Kilsham Front1 Kilsham Front2 Kilsham Front3 Kilsham Front 4 

 Side View

Kilsham Side 1 Kilsahm Side 2 Kilsham Side 3 Kilsham Side 3a Kilsham Side 4
Kilsham Side 6 Kilsham Side 6 Kilsham Side 7 Kilsham Side10  

 Back View

Kilsham Back 1 Kilsham Back 2

Kilsham Farm House Kitchen Utility Room & Living Room

Kitchen1 Klisham Kitchen 2 Kilsham Kitche 3 Kilsham Kitchen 6  
Kitchen Kilsham 5 Kilsham Kitchen 7 Kilsham Kitchen 10 Kilsham Kitchen 15 Kilsham Kitchen 16
 Kitchen 8  Kilsham Kitchen 9  Kilsham Kitchen 11 Kilsham Fire Place 1  Kilsham Fireplace2


 Kilsham Other Rooms

B&B Living Room

Kilsham B&B Room1


Kilsham B&B Sitting Room2

Boys Bedroom - Dividing Wall

Kisham Boys Bedroom1

Archies Bedroom

Kilsham Boys Bedroom2

Toms Bedroom

Kilsham Boys Bedrrom2

Our Bedroom

Kilsham Our Bedroom 1

B&B Ensuite Bedroom

Kilsham B&B Room1

 B&B Bathroom

Kilsham B&B Bathroom2

 Family Bathroom

Kilsham Family Bathroom1


Kilsham Family Bathroom2

Kilsham Family Bathroom 10


Kilsham Office1

Kilsham Office2    

Kilsham is 300 acres which comprises of 230 acres of arable and 70 acres of grass.  We will intend to have Spring Barley, Maize and potatoes which will be planted this year, the maize and potatoes will be grown by contractors this will hope to ease the cash flow!.  Along with our small flock of sheep we are also doing B&B for 39 Swiss Red Dairy Heifers.  

Plans started to get into action with Phil getting a new grass pasture drilled and some forage rape and also some mustard in the ground in August.  Phil and I went and selected 40 shearling lambs in August (a yearling sheep before its first shearing. Also hogget, old-season lamb, teg) We were also given 40 texel cross ewes from Phils Dad.  Our small breeding flock has begun. These have been kept at Park Farm and Grazed over in Petersfield during the Autumn, this is where the rams went in as well.   We aim to lamb at the end of February.  The sheep went over to Kilsham on 12th January and will stay here for a few weeks before returning to Park Farm for lambing.


Kilsham Sheep 1

Tom & Archie's Sheep X A MO KO leading the way

Kilsham Sheep2

Kilsham is in need of some TLC and to be got back into order.  There are miles of fences to put up, while we have started the endless task which will keep us going for our 15 year tenancy of clearing old fences, cutting back trees (and lots of gigantic brambles!) we have completely finished one field which is in front of the house and have started on another but we have had to use electric fencing for the moment. We are not exactly sure how the cows stayed in, they must have been like the crofted sheep and know their territory.  Hedges and barbed wire will not keep sheep in and we all know that sheep love to find the gaps and get the greener grass on the other side!  

Archie & Tom Ready to Help!

Kilsham Clearing1


Kilsham Clearing2 Kilsham Clearing3 Kilsham Clearing 5
Kilsham Clearing 6 Kilsham Clearing7  Kilsham Fencing1  Kilsham Fencing2
Kilsham Fencing 6c Kilsham Fencing 5 Kilsham Fencing 5b Kilsham Fencing 6a

Phil pointing Chestnut posts which wereCut by himself and his Dad

Kilsham Clearing4

Me getting used to my new tool, the Fence Banger

Kilsham Fencing Banging



With a livestock building at the farm and also having to purchase all the straw and silage as in going tenants we obviously had to get some mouths to eat all this and sleep on it over the winter months. There was no way that we could justify paying out for some suckler cows.  It would have been lovely but we are going to end up in the red for quite a period so to avoid a huge dept we came to the conclusion that we could look after or contract rear someone elses cows.  Phil called the marked to see if there was anyone interested and in a day or so his number was given to someone who farms over in Winchester.  So we have 38 cows (one sadly fractured its leg and had to be destroyed) Their breed are Swiss Red but as they were unloaded off the trailer I did wonder as they were black and white! Anyway they have settled in and are eating their way through the silage. The straw and muck will help our crops grow later on in the year when it gets spead. There are a couple of friendly ones which have a stroke and a rub which is nice.  Its nice when you dive up to the yard and its filled with Moooing as they wait at the gate for their food.

Kilsham Cattle1 Kilsham Cattle2 Kilsham Cattle 3 Kilsham Cattle 4
Kilsham Cattle 6      


Farm Buildings

Kilsham used to be an old dairy farm so we have two reasonably sized livestock buildings, an old dairy, two stables which then has a four bay barn, a traditional stone barn with a loft area and a dutch barn.  We will obviously need some space for storage but we will hope to rent these buildings out to local business/storage (agin to make money, its all about the money!!) 

Kilsham View of Yard 1 Kilsham View of Yard2 Kilsham Farm Buildings 1 Kilsham Farm Building 2
Kilsham Farm Building 3 Kilsham Farm Building 4 Kilsham Farm Building 5 Kilsham Farm Buildings 6
Kilsham Farm Buildings 8 Kilsham Farm Buildings 9 Kilsham Farm buildings 10 Kilsham Farm Buildings 11


So this is where we are with Kilsham Farm but over the weeks I am sure things will come along in the house and we may be in at Easter (fingers crossed) There are many jobs to be done so keep on following this page to be informed about our life at our new farm.


Liz XX





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  1. carol blake

    Thank you for showing us round your farm and farmhouse yesterday. What an exciting project, even on a cold wet January day it looks amazing. I am sure it will be a great success and a wonderful environment in which to live and bring up a family.

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  2. Nigel Cooper

    Excellent story and pictures - good to see that you, Liz are back to operating farm machinery. What a great adventure and we look forward to visiting again - when you are installed - and where are your piggies going?

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  3. Allie Coulson

    so lovely to see the pictures and so delighted you have got the farm. Mick is especially delighted to see lots of fence posts!

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  4. Lisa Whitby

    All looks very exciting!! Can't wait to see pictures of the house once its finished xx

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