It is all a hobby that went mad, and at the end of the day, we are still hobbyists at heart and maybe just a little mad.
In 1979, with an eye on retirement, my late father-in-law Joffre Stiles asked me and my wife Janet if we would like to take up farming on what was then a mixed arable and beef stock farm, so I gave up our tree felling business and moved from mid Kent to Sutton.
Bored with winter farming, I went felling part-time during the quieter months and had small quantities of prime timber planked locally for use in my hobby of turning and furniture making.

In 1987 the so-called Great Storm caused devastation across wide swathes of Southern England and after a few depressing weeks repairing damage and clearing blown trees on the farm, I decided to acquire more timber for some grand furniture making plans.
Like the trees, timber prices were on the deck, but figuring that it was still worth the same for my use, I offered pre-storm prices for timber and soon had a stock of prime timber in 17 types piled in every spare space on the farm.
A mobile Trekkasaw sawmill was hired in from Sussex for the two weeks it took to convert it and soon after, timber was stacked in the various redundant farm buildings that were eventually to be converted for the shop and timber supplies.
The following year, word got around that there was an obsessive compulsive timber nut on a small farm in Sutton and before long, more buildings were stacked with huge piles of timber in stick.
I had a few enquiries with regard to selling some of the Oak we had milled but was adamant that the timber was all for my own use - right through to retirement!

It soon became obvious (as our tractor driver John pointed out) that with the best will in the world, I would never use the wood in one lifetime, so sometime late in 1988, I started to sell some.
Soon after I was invited to join the Kent branch of the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain (AWGB) and realised I wasn’t the only woodturner in the area.
In 1995, just before the BSE debacle, we gave up the beef cattle. It wasn’t so much a question of foresight, more luck, but in light of subsequent the foot-and-mouth outbreak and the loss of a beef market in Europe (where they never had BSE nor F&M of course. . .) we have not regretted the change.

With frequent enquiries from our regular timber customers requesting that we increase our stock to include tools, accessories, finishes etc, we moved the timber business into the Stiles & Bates farming partnership and made a planning application to convert one of the cattle lodges into a shop to supply all the requirements of the woodturner under one roof.
At this time we had been hiring in a local sawmiller with a Tom Sawyer mill for our yearly milling but in 1998 bought an almost new Trekkasaw such as we had hired in the early days.