Farm animals inspire children’s books

August 6, 2022 BY

Charming characters: Di Hickleton’s Butleigh Farm books were inspired by the animals on her property, and people can tour the farm to meet the critters and the author Photos: SUPPLIED

FORMER teacher Di Hickleton has always seen unique characters within the animals in her life, and often wonders what they would say if they could talk.

When her family moved from Bannockburn to Butleigh Farm at Murgheboluc 16 years ago, they got a donkey full of personality, and ideas for children’s picture storybooks sparked in Hickleton’s mind.

Recently retiring from teaching, she had more opportunities to sit down, write, and self-publish her book Butleigh Farm.

When her family got a pig, that inspired book two, and currently the third tale in the series is in its final editing stages and almost ready to be printed.

“It all started as a dream and it’s gone further than I thought it would, but gee, I love it,” she said. “It’s changed my whole life.”

The farm is Hickleton’s happy place, and the books are her way of sharing that with others.

“It’s a real escape out here, very relaxing, we have a lovely view over the valley, and our beautiful bluestone building,” she said.

“The farm often wows people. It’s very country, it’s our house, it’s where we live, but it’s very special.”

As the first Butleigh Farm story gained popularity in the region, so did the desire from community members to visit the farm with their children and hold birthday parties at the property.

Hickleton said she enjoys offering the experience and loves the days when she gets up and organises the animals, and a set of buckets for the little visitors who are about to arrive.

“It’s really exciting for them because the book’s illustrations are very much like our farm,” she said.

“I get kids here that have read the book and know it so well. The ask me, ‘where’s the windmill, where’s the truck?’ I love seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces.

“The animals add to the experience. The kids love to meet and pat the cheeky pig and hear stories about what he’s done.”

After working with illustrator Melanie Macilwain on the first two books, Hickleton is the artist behind the visuals in book three.

“I’ve always loved drawing. The illustrations will be very similar, but you will be able to see they’ve been done by someone different,” she said.

Express interest in a visit to the farm, or buy the books at butleighfarm.com.au.