Since 1954, Haywards Farm in Dorset (UK) is run by three generations from the Foot family. Today Emma (24) and her father Christopher (58) farm just over 500 acres of combinable crops together, as colleagues. Here is Emma’s story about the farm development through time, and her everyday farming live.
- My dad and I farm just over 500 acres of arable ground, containing 24 cattle and 20 sheep to graze on grassland. The field sizes range from 6-80 acres, and the rotation includes winter wheat, winter and spring barley, oilseed rape and winter oats.
Emma’s grandparents were the first owners of Haywards Farm. They bought two fields in 1954, and built a bungalow and barn on the land. Over time they bought adjoining fields to bring the farm size up to 430 acres. On one of the fields, there was an old cottage and barn, which was called Haywards cottage, so they named the farm Haywards farm.
- They started in 1954 with cows in milking bale, before they built a milking parlour in 1958, and increased the amount of cows on the farm. They grew corn and had a corn store and dryer built in 1965 . The family also bought 100 sheep and lambed them down. In 1972 they sold the dairy cows and equipment, and went into beef cattle.
- In 1974, 98 acres of adjoining land was bought. In the 80’s my dad and grandparents cut the number of breeding sheep down to 40. They bought in 600 store lambs and fattened them on stubble turnips. By 1996 they started growing oilseed rape, so they had to stop growing stubble turnips, as it interferes with the rotation being a brassica too.
When being asked what she had learned from her dad and grandparents growing up on the farm, the answer is clear;
"You’ve got to work with the weather, and most things are learnt from experience."
My grandparents and my father had it much tougher, lifting fertilizer and seed bags of 50 kg manually, whereas today we have a loader to lift 600 kg bags in one simple operation. There is not so much manual handling generally on the farm, and it makes life easier and more efficient than “back in the days”.
- We are working with Kverneland implements on our farm on and off for the last 40 years now. We have had ploughs, cultivators, drills and our newest edition is the fertilizer spreader. We are so pleased with this machine. And the After Service and technicians is second to none! I don’t think many companies would come out on bank holidays.
The developments in Farming bring efficiency but also fun
Today Emma, Chris and the rest of the Foot family work in close collaboration to make things run smoothly. But of course they do have their up’s and down’s:
- It can be challenging working together, although most of the time we agree with things and get on very well. It is nice to be able to do a good hard days work, and then have the flexibility to pop into your own home, just steps away from our workplace.
- My favorite activity on the farm is putting on the fertilizer. I know how accurate this machine is, and it is a pleasure to use something you know is going right and makes life more simple. Hauling corn is also one of my favorite jobs, as I love bringing the crops in, enjoying the views, and making the most of the long late light evenings.
Emma’s father Chris loves drilling corn, as he enjoys seeing the corn going into a nice seedbed, and enjoys combining to see what crop you get.
- Farming comes along with leaps and bounds with new technology, with newer machines, like fertilizer spreaders. This has helped our business save money with its accurate spreading. We have also recently invested in an auto shut off and boom-leveling sprayer, which is great. We are really looking forward to what the future brings with new technology.
Best memory with your dad?
- One of my favorite memories working with my dad has to be when he thought I couldn’t reverse a trailer into our small pit. I tried and tried to get it right - and now I can do it even without stunting! I find when someone (especially my dad) say I can’t do something, it makes me more determined to prove I can.
Being a 24-year-old female farmer, is rare, and can be a challenge, but Emma is optimistic about the future;
- Sometimes it’s challenging and a bit intimidating at some meetings when I’m the only female. But with the likes of strong women like NFU President Minette Batters, and her influence, I think it’s gradually moving forward. Hopefully more women will get into farming as a profession. I love my job and find it really rewarding. Sometimes, when I am being asked what I do, people might say; “well you don’t look like a farmer”. I find that a bit annoying as I don’t think it matters what you look like, or what gender you have. If you can do it - why shouldn’t you?!
- I love the freedom being a farmer. You can enjoy being outside in the fresh air, with amazing views, watching how the landscape changes throughout the seasons. It is really a rewarding profession and lifestyle.