The Butler Societies Interim Chairperson is Suzanna Crampton. She is Granddaughter of our co-founder, Hubert Butler. Sister of Thomas. And a nice person to boot. This article appeared in the August 15th issue of The Irish Times.
Animal magnetism: The Kilkenny farm taking social media by storm
Anyone who has been following Suzanna Crampton’s daily videos, vignettes of life on her farm in Kilkenny, will marvel at the sound when she unlocks a metal gate and her impatient, bleating flock of chunky chocolate brown Zwartbles sheep stampede through it in a mighty rush to get to their breakfast troughs. Puppies and dogs rush out of the way to avoid their hooves while her well-positioned iPhone occasionally takes a tumble.
Crampton is a farmer, photographer and writer, and her captivating social media posts have created a huge following both here and abroad. Viewers learn from her lively commentary about her style of farming, her fields and her animals – sheep, alpacas, dogs, cats, horses, doves and chickens, plus her most recent companion, a young crow. For urban viewers it also raises awareness of the everyday demands of a hardworking farming life in an entertaining and accessible way.
Black Sheep Farm, which has been in her mother’s family for eight generations, nestles in the river Nore valley near Bennettsbridge, in the foothills of the Blackstairs mountains and overlooked by Mount Leinster. Most of the fields face south and are planted with mature oak, beech, larch and cherry trees under which her flocks graze in their paddocks.
Her deep understanding of animal behaviour comes through in the videos, an instinctual empathy that she attributes to dyslexia. “I was severely abused and beaten up by my peers at school as a child because of it,” she says. “So I learned body language and in turn you learn about the body language of animals and how to connect with them. It is also about understanding humans. Our first language is body language and we have not needed that facility.”
She is also blessed with considerable storytelling skills both in person and on the page; her book Bodacious, about her shepherd cat, was published two years ago. The rescue animal, “with tractor loads of personality”, was an unexpected hit, selling out in hardback. Bodacious even made history as a cover star of The Lady magazine in the UK. Since then the book has charmed animal lovers worldwide and has been translated into French, German, Italian and more recently Japanese.
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