Name: Clare Hunt
I'm currently in...
West Devon, England. I live on a tiny smallholding with my husband, flock of sheep, Border Collie puppy and the odd chicken or two. People always think of the coast when they hear we’re in Devon, but we’re slap-bang in the middle of the county, at the foot of Dartmoor, so are about as landlocked as is possible.
We moved to the West Country about 8 years ago. Before that I worked in London, commuting into the city every day from Oxfordshire. I was publishing director for DK travel guides and Rough Guides, running teams in London and Delhi. There was a lot of flitting between the offices in the UK, US, India and Germany, so when I realised I was spending more time drinking gin in the Heathrow T5 departure lounge than I was at home, I packed it in and ran away to the country.
As I grew up in East Lothian, Scotland’s arable heartland, I’m a country girl at heart. I love the lushness of the Devon landscape – it’s a dairy county, so has the traditional patchwork of pastures and hedgerows you’d imagine of the English countryside. When I’m working, I have to sit with my back to the window, to avoid being distracted by the view.
In my spare time you will find me...
pottering around with sheep. If you ever want to waste time, get a sheep. I’ll say to my husband ‘I’m just popping out for a minute…’ and come back four hours later covered in mud and inexplicable bruises. I currently have 16 ewes, most of which are off with the ram at the moment. We lamb in April and, ideally, each mum has two babies. This means the flock swells over summer, then shrinks down again in autumn when the lambs go to market.
One of the main reasons I got sheep in the first place was to fill my freezer with home-produced meat. Every year, I take a few lambs to our local abattoir, then butcher the carcasses at home. That way, I get exactly the cuts I want and I know that they’ve come from animals that have been reared well and enjoyed a stress-free life.
I’m also just starting to train Ted, my Collie puppy, to be a sheepdog. What he lacks in skill he more than makes up for in enthusiasm. He’s right at the start of his training, so we’re just working on the basics – ie, don’t bite the sheep. At this stage, he’s commanded more by instinct than he is by me, so most of Devon can hear me yelling ‘LIE DOWN!’ in an attempt to stop him running riot. It’s going to take some work, but I’m sure we’ll get there, if my voice holds out.
I'm passionate about...
getting every job done well. I find the English language, with its infinite intricacies, oddities and pitfalls, endlessly fascinating. It gives us the tools to make every subject interesting, so I like to see it used to its full potential. I’ve been known to dither for way too long when choosing the perfect adjective, which isn’t ideal when I’m working against the clock. My favourite words are gargoyle, squirrel and lolly. Regrettably, I don’t work on many projects that let me use those regularly.
My dream brief would be...
anything foodie or agricultural. I do a lot of magazine writing about farming and rural affairs, in the course of which I’ve found there are a lot of unexpectedly fascinating subjects in that sector. And, as a smallholder, I like to cook and bake with ingredients I’ve grown or foraged, so am always keen to learn more. If we’re getting really specific, I particularly enjoy pickling and preserving things. A brief dealing with that would be right up my street. Is that something you could arrange, Jellyfish?