6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Kent Life today CLICK HERE

A day in the life of a Kent pig farmer

PUBLISHED: 10:09 20 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:17 20 February 2013

A day in the life of a Kent pig farmer

A day in the life of a Kent pig farmer

Timothy Melbourne Wells tells us about life on Popes Villa Farm, Shipbourne

A day in the life of a Kent pig farmer


Timothy Melbourne Wells tells us about life on Popes Villa Farm, Shipbourne


What sort of farm is it?


Primarily pigs.



At what age did you start?


Immediately after leaving St Thomass School, now Sackville, in Sevenoaks. I was 17.



Who was your inspiration?


We are not a farming family my father was a civil engineer and my mother a nurse but quite a number of my school friends came from farming backgrounds. I think this is how my interest first began.



How long have you been in the farming industry?


27 years.



What training did you have?


I studied general agriculture at Hadlow College, where I had a fantastic time. I also learned a lot working on a sheep farm in Tonbridge and a dairy farm at Offham.



What sort of pigs do you have?


Oxford Sandy and Blacks. They are sometimes described as the Plum Pudding pig I guess because of their colouring. It is one of the oldest breeds and classified rare. Their temperament is delightful and the sows are wonderful mothers. They are tough and hardy and very suited to the natural outdoor rearing system we practise for as much of the year as possible. The pork and bacon have superb flavour that is difficult to beat and the meat is particularly succulent. We have a wonderful boar, Ansty Alistair, I bought him in 2007 just before he won his class at the Royal Show.


We also produce Berkshire pigs. Apart from white socks, a blaze on the face and on the tip of the tail, they are completely black. Another rare breed, their many advocates include the Royal Family and Jamie Oliver. A lot of well-known chefs believe the pork produces the best crackling of all.



Describe your working day


Although we have a routine, every day is different. I usually feed at 8am. We mix our own feed 40 per cent wheat, 40 per cent barley and 20 per cent peas or beans. Because our pigs are outdoor free range, they have opportunity to browse. We also feed apples which they love and other succulents. Although we dont qualify for the official organic label, our pigs are reared to near-organic standards. After feeding, I check the fencing. We rotate the areas we use and this means moving the pigs around regularly. There is always maintenance work and other odd jobs. My days are full.



Tell us something about the farm itself


I own about 10 acres, which were originally bought by my mother. I have the use of land belonging to my aunt and rent a further acreage nearby. At the current time the operation is very small, partly due to the fact that I was forced to cut back due to ill health but also because I prefer to concentrate on very high quality rather than quantity. We keep the pigs out as long as possible. I make almost all the housing myself and also use some old stabling. We dont use artificial insemination which isnt very successful with pigs anyway - but run the boar with selected sows. The gestation period is three months, three weeks and three days. Our sows are notably good mothers. We sell all our produce ex-farm: most of it ends up in pubs and restaurants that want quality and flavour. We also keep geese for their eggs and aim to produce guinea fowl and partridge.



Do you compete at agriculture shows?


No but it is something I shall consider now my health is improving. I think shows are very important because they demonstrate the excellence of British farming. Our livestock production methods are second to none.



Do you have children following in your footsteps?


No but I have a 10-year-old nephew living in Nottinghamshire. Neither of his parents is interested in farming, but when Joshua comes to stay, he loves getting involved and helping in every way. He says his ambition is to be a farmer!



Marks out of 10 for job satisfaction?


The easiest question of all! 10.



GET IN TOUCH


Popes Villa Farm, Hamptons Road, Shipbourne, nr Tonbridge TN11 9RQ


Tel: 01732 810649 or 07786 958679



More from People

Freemasonry has existed for more than 300 years, welcomes men from all weeks of life and supports many charities - yet the myths persist. Kent Life finds out why

Read more

Giovanna Richards on the satisfaction she finds in volunteering for the charity Kent Search and Rescue

Read more

From starring in and producing movies to lining up a future director's chair, Gravesend's own Gemma Arterton is making her mark on Hollywood in typically no-nonsense fashion

Read more
Thursday, August 8, 2019

There are many benefits to boarding schools: enhanced facilities, more comprehensive education and good pastoral care, sometimes at a very reasonable price. We spoke to Duke of York Royal Military School's principal Alex Foreman about the benefits of the state boarding school

Read more

The response to a request for photos of your dog at the beach was phenomenal. Meet some of Kent Life readers' four-legged friends

Read more

Paul Barrett never says no to a sporting dare, but this year he's taking on a whole new challenge as Kent's High Sheriff

Read more

Kent Life celebrates the local charities offering safe homes to abused or unwanted animals in the county

Read more

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex serving the residents of Kent

Read more
Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Take a step back in time to the good old days with these vintage videos from around Kent

Read more

The men who fought in the Battle of Britain included civilians who joined the RAF as reservists. Here are the stories of four brave Kent men

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life