It’s with great sadness that I report the death of Katie Thear on March 18th 2010 after a long battle with cancer. Katie is survived by her husband David.
Katie was well known to the poultry and smallholding fraternity as an author and lecturer. She was unfailingly warm and generous. Although I never met her she happily provided articles for the web site for free and eventually I started selling her books. Although some of her older books are slightly dated now, their advice is still sound and although she was a real expert, she never talked down to her audience but did make the complex understandable and keep the simple, simple.
Katie was partly responsible for planting the seed of my dream of having a smallholding and being self-sufficient. She and her husband were the driving force behind a magazine in the 70’s called Practical Self Sufficiency which Katie edited. The magazine was as inspirational as it was informative although it always had a practical focus and quickly became a forum for people to share ideas and help each other.
Katie wasn’t some theoretical writer. She practised the entire range of smallholding activities developing half an acre of fruit and vegetables and over time she and her husband kept a wide variety of poultry and livestock.
She constantly experimented to adapt traditional techniques for the present day, being one of the earliest users of raised beds in her vegetable garden in 1976.
She also taught herself how to make best use of the produce – including making butter, yoghurt and cheeses from the milk of dairy animals
After twenty years, Katie stood back from the editorship to concentrate on writing more books on smallholding topics. She had twenty two books published, most of which are still in print. Katie Thear was both a pioneer of the Self Sufficiency movement and a substantial contributor in providing help to smallholders for more than thirty years, throughout which time she would readily help anyone who approached her with problems. The magazine that she founded thirty five years ago continues successfully today as Country Smallholding.