Debbie Keeble

born 1965

Debbie Keeble was the winner of the M&S Women in Farming Award at the Farm Business Food and Farming Awards 2008. She and her husband, Andrew, run a successful pig farm and sausage-making business in Yorkshire, England. Debbie and Andrew’s sells sausages locally and in major supermarkets nationwide.

Debbie says:

Once you start thinking about happiness it is so difficult to define, and can get a bit deep. My husband Andrew says that listening to Ken Dodds “Happiness” song makes him happy.

It’s really difficult to define happiness. It is something that comes and goes. Even when I think that I couldn’t be happier something always comes and challenges that feeling, albeit only temporarily until you put things back into perspective.

Also once you have experienced happiness, the first time is always the best. For example, we desperately wanted to go on a hot holiday with our children. We finally achieved it and have been on many more since but the happiest time was the first time!

Often the most memorable happy moments involve some sort of surprise.

It is difficult to find time to relax but I do discipline myself to take time out. I usually try to go for a gruelling but invigorating walk with Andrew and the dogs about three times a week – we have the most stunning views around here in Yorkshire

Debbie and her husband have an infectious enthusiasm for quality ingredients and for their brand. Does creating a successful product bring happiness?

Something that makes me happy daily is opening e-mails from customers who felt the urge to write to us and say how happy they are when they first discover our sausages – it makes all the struggles worth while and sometimes bring a lump to my throat.

I guess the most recent happiest moment was one Saturday morning we were reading the Newspapers and saw a double paged spread with the title “Battle of the Bangers”. The article involved a nutritionist, a chef and a child reviewing a selection of sausages they had bought from the supermarket. To our amazement our sausages had been selected for the battle and were the first choice for the nutritionist, the chef and the child! I was very happy!

As well as being successful in business, the Keebles are clearly very happy on their farm.

Family is important to us. Our working life and social life all really revolves around the family. Andrew and I have board meetings in the bathroom and the children’s school holidays are spent selling sausages. I suppose people might think us a bit sad really but we’re all happy so that’s all that matters.

I love cooking. Seeing six empty plates at the end of a meal with five smiling faces makes me really happy!

And, of course, I’ve got to ask about the pigs. What makes for a happy pig?

Without a doubt ‘good stockmanship’ is important for a happy pig. We have all sorts of different pig farming systems in this country but the critical underlying criteria for happy pigs is down to the person looking after them. We visit all of the farms that supply our pigs and I can say hand on heart that they are happy pigs!

I interviewed Debbie in February 2009.

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