A Coffee Break with Kate from Modern Mum, a farmer, blogger and mum to six!

For this weeks Coffee Break Chat I have had a great chat with Kate who blogs over at www.modernmum.net about her life as a blogger, mum to 6 and working on their family farm. I had lots of questions as I just cant imagine living on a farm so I am sure you will be interested too!

Before we sit for a proper chat we need a cuppa! Do you drink tea or coffee? How do you drink it? And the important part, what is your favourite biscuit?
Hi Jen, thanks for having me! I do love a cup of tea but I am definitely a coffee girl. I’m a slimming world girl so I have it with skimmed milk and two sweeteners. At the moment I must have 5-10 cups a day but I’m putting that down to having a six week old baby. I am not fussy when it comes to biscuits,  bourbon, custard creams, cookies but I do love a caramel chocolate digestive.

Can you start by telling my readers a bit about you and your blog?

My blog is about me and my larger than average family. I am a wife to a gorgeous hubby and mum to six beautiful, yet slightly feral children,  five boys and a gorgeous girl. We live on a farm just 17 miles outside of London.  In fact I have a pretty spectacular view of London from my kitchen. While I’m enjoying a coffee I can see The Shard,  Canary Wharf and even the O2 arena. 
I’m 34 and despite having a huge family I am certainly not ready to hang up my stilettos! I like going out with friends and partying,  shopping and making memories with the kids. My blog is like my therapy,  I write about my days with my children,  eating out, holidays, pregnancy, birth,  life with children, my opinions on current affairs, friends and anything life throws at me!

As a farming family do you find it harder to have friends because you don’t have neighbours in the same way and have a bit of a different lifestyle to the children’s school friends?

Not really,  we have a great circle of friends and most knew us before we moved to the farm. We have an ‘open door’ home,  you don’t need an invite and there is always a cuppa waiting so we have a very busy house. Despite living in the countryside we are very close to town and the kids still go to a large school in the suburbs of South London. This means we get to enjoy the best of both worlds. We enjoy everything the great British countryside has to offer yet fifteen minutes down the road we can enjoy all the benefits of living in a town…great restaurants, shops, theatre etc as well as lots of friends and family near by. 

Do you think farming is misunderstood by us town folk? I’ve never lived on a farm and can’t imagine it at all!

I think programs like Countryfile and Springwatch make farming easier for people to comprehend. Having said that there are some subjects I find quite frustrating. Foxes! They are a nightmare for us. They attack our lambs and kill our chickens and I find I have to steer clear of Fox conversations with some friends as they don’t understand they are pests to us. The controversial subject of bringing up animals for meat can cause tension aswell. I find it hard to listen to people tell me how awful it is that we eat the animals we raise,  especially when my lecturer is sinking their teeth into a medium -rare fillet steak!  

What animals do you have?

We have Dexter Cows and a little calf,  sheep and lambs, chickens,  ducks,  pigs,  dogs, cats and bees!  We have had geese in the past but Mr Fox got hold of them.

I know some of your animals are for food both for your family and the public. I am a vegetarian but fully understand other people’s choices and not one to preach my views on others but I wonder if you can tell me and my readers how the animals are treated prior to being sold as food? Do you find it hard that you raise animals to eat them? Or do your children find this hard? 

I find this a fairly simple concept in my mind and this is how we explained it to the children when we moved here… When you buy meat from the supermarket you have no idea where it has come from.   Often they are from huge farms where the animals are kept in less than adequate conditions. All our animals are all well looked after,  fed and loved for the time they are with us, which makes the process much easier for us all to embrace. Farming doesn’t provide an income for us,  we do it to try and stay self sufficient and for the children to experience this life. We have separate businesses that earn us a living so this means we don’t have to worry about profits etc when looking after the animals.
Whatever animal comes to the farm we know when it arrives what is fate will be and that helps us at the end. For example, our chickens are pets and we would never use them for meat. On the other hand, we know our pigs and cows are ultimately going to be for the table, so we keep that in mind when looking after them. We try not to get to attached but look after them just as we would a pet, we talk to them, fed them good quality food and give them great space to graze and live in. It is always a little sad when animals go for slaughter but the children do understand the process and all of them enjoy the meat they produce.
The first animals we took to slaughter were pigs. We sat the children down and explained what was going to happen when we brought the piglets home. On the day the pigs were dispatched I sat the kids down and told them what was going to happen. My son Harrison wanted to help with the  butchering and found it really interesting. I cooked our first pork belly that afternoon and gave them the choice of trying it – they all did, and from that moment they realised how much difference there is in home grown meat and supermarket meat.

Is farming a life/vocation you would recommend to others?

Absolutely!  the outdoor life is great for the kids.   Since moving to the farm the children have learned invaluable lessons.  They have learned responsibility and how important it is to work as a team. They have learned about different animals and plants and how to look after them and they now know what hard work has gone into the food that ends up on our plate. It has also given them a greater understanding of our food, healthy eating and cooking and recipes. They will all try anything and appreciate good quality food.

Is there anything about farming you don’t like or find challenging?

We are lucky that we have people around to help if we go away but farming can certainly be restricting.  We have to make sure all the animals will be looked after if we go away or stay out late. Even with a hangover, the animals need looking after, but as I mentioned before, we all muck in which means it takes the pressure off us all. 

As a mum of 6 children and helping your husband with the running of the farm do you ever get any free time for yourself?

Oh Yes! It’s a little harder since Arthur had been born as he is only 6 weeks but I have already manged a couple of kid free days and I’m away this weekend with the girls. My husband and I have always made sure we get our nights out, whether its together or separately. In fact, I think we have a better social life now than before we had children.   I think before the babies came along we took free time for granted. Since having them, we really enjoy having a night out or weekend away and always make the most of it.

Since you started blogging what do you enjoy most about blogging? Is there anything you don’t enjoy or find challenging?

I enjoy the interaction and I love meeting new people. I love writing and sharing stories but I do find it hard to find the time sometimes. I put pressure on myself to do more but that can take the fun out of it. 

How do you see your blog progressing, what kind of things would you like to be blogging about next year?

I am trying to set time aside each day to spend on my blog. Whether it’s reading other people’s blogs, chatting on social media or working on a new post. Next year I would love to have at least doubled my following.    

If my readers would like to follow your family and your blog where can they find you?

You can find me at 
Instagram @modernmum82
Twitter @modernmum82

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Thank you for having me Jen, I’ve really enjoyed sharing my farming experiences with you and your readers xxx 

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