Upon telling people ‘I’m a farmer’ I’m often met with a quizzical expression. This could be down to the fact that, lately it’s usually when I’ve been at a wedding sat next to someone I don’t know, and I’m scrubbed up, made up and dressed up (no mud/straw in my hair… etc). The expression is usually followed by, ‘Oh really…you don’t look like a farmer…’ (whatever that means…what in everyones mind DOES a typical ‘farmer’ look like?! Flat cap? Chewing on some straw?!).
In my old career, when I was in marketing, answering the dreaded ‘What do you do?’ question was a hell of a lot simpler to answer. But now, when I tell people what I do, a flood of questions ensue and they are usually of a simular nature. I’m not complaining, as I’m proud of what I do, and it’s nice for people to find it intriguing. But everytime I answer that ‘I’m actually a farmer’ I usually end up dominating the conversation answering questions like ‘OMG, do you like have to get up at 4am everyday…?’. When actually, I might quite like to discuss the ‘difference between the shades of cloud paint in the Glossier make up repertoire instead’ or ‘what the new Blade Runner film is like…’.
Usual questions I get asked upon telling people ‘I’m a farmer’…
You must be exhausted, do you have to get up a 4am everyday?
No. I’m a shepherd/livestock farmer, not a dairy farmer. So I get up at 6am, like the rest of the world. (Actually later than when I was commuting into London/Brighton when I was working as a marketeer!).
How on earth did YOU get into farming?
I fell in love with, and now have, married a farmer, and this has naturally bought me into the farming world having come from a non farming background. But Andy is just as much a ‘farmers husband’ as I am ‘a farmers wife’. I have really found that there is a common attitude that if you are a women in farming that you must have come from a farming background.
Do you drive the tractor?
Yes. I do. And I bloody love it. You’re so high up and can spy into everyones gardens! I was actually quite daunted at the idea of learning to drive the tractor, but the controls are really intuitive. I think its probably easier to learn to drive than a car to be honest.
Do you have sheep dogs?
Yes, two of them…Joey the Kelpie who is an Australian yard dog who is great in smaller spaces/in the yard and Zac the Collie who is a traditional heading dog, great in large fields for gathering. The two of them have been together since they were young so they work as a little team when we are herding sheep, with us shouting/whistling commands. They are invaluable to our day to day existence.
How many sheep do you have? (to this, when Andy or I answer, around 2,000) It’s usually followed by – how on earth do you cope?! Especially during lambing?!
Because we run an extensive New Zealand system, and the sheep we have (NZ Romneys) are extremely hardy, we essentially leave the sheep to their own devices. Obviously making sure they have enough grass to eat and water to drink with little intervention. This is true of lambing too. All of the ewes lamb on their own outside and we check round them a couple of times a day, just picking up any that seem to be struggling and taking them inside for a bit of TLC. As we run this system, it means we don’t need half as much man power to run the farm, and it also means the sheep are happily left alone to live their lives without us bothering them too much!
Those are the main questions I get asked…but if you have anything else you want to ask, let me know and I’d be happy to answer 🙂