This Farming Life 2023 Episode 2 – Autumn, with its golden hues and crisp air, heralds a time of both challenges and rewards for the dedicated farmers across the scenic landscapes of Scotland. Nestled in Inverkip, a couple named Rachel and Camy are bravely embarking on their second year of laying the foundation for their very own farm. They’ve taken on the hefty responsibility of a tenancy at the esteemed Dunrod Farm and coupled it with a substantial bank loan. Their dreams soar high, envisioning a future where they boast ownership of a remarkable flock of 5,000 sheep. However, as with all dreams, reality interjects. A venture to the bustling market soon reveals that escalating prices may potentially disrupt their meticulously laid plans.
Meanwhile, a short journey to Maybole in South Ayrshire introduces us to the Barclays. This resilient family is navigating the intricate dynamics of a new business venture, which involves purchasing store lambs with the intent of nurturing them until they’re prime for the butcher’s knife. Tragedy touched their lives when John’s father, the beacon of their family, passed away unexpectedly the previous year. Now, John shoulders the legacy, fervently striving to ensure that their fourth-generation farm not only survives but thrives. Amidst their diligent work, the half-term break provides a much-needed respite. But for the Barclays, relaxation means a delightful family day spent amidst the cacophony and thrill of the sheep auction.
Up in the serene region of Moray, another heartwarming tale unfolds. Nikki, Ollie, and their vibrant brood of children come together in harmonious teamwork. Their mission? Transforming a prolific harvest of crisp apples into delicious juice, ensuring a year-long supply for their household. As days pass, there’s an air of anticipation in the family. Eagerly, they await news that could bring immense joy – the possibility that one of their cherished buffalo is on the cusp of motherhood.
This Farming Life 2023 Episode 2 – Toiling Together in Scotland’s Rural Landscapes: Tales of Five Resolute Farming Families
As autumn’s golden hues and crisp air descend upon Scotland’s picturesque countryside, the dedicated farmers working these fertile lands steel themselves for both trials and triumphs ahead. In the rural village of Inverkip, one spirited couple embarks on their second year pursuing an ambitious agricultural dream. An arduous journey filled with soaring aspirations, harsh realities, and an unshakable drive to succeed lies before them.
Venturing Towards a 5,000 Strong Flock
Rachel Hamilton and Camy Jackson have embarked on a bold new chapter by securing their first-ever farm tenancy at the esteemed 500-acre Dunrod Farm. Nestled amongst the windswept hills overlooking the Firth of Clyde, this land presents the perfect blank canvas upon which to build their future. Their aspirations soar high, envisioning a flourishing flock of 5,000 hardy sheep grazing upon the rough grazing by year five. However, this lofty goal necessitates a hefty commitment – procuring a substantial bank loan to purchase their inaugural groups of livestock.
Their inaugural flock now totals 500 hardy Cheviot ewes, selected specifically for their suitability to the exposed hill ground. Additionally, 45 stout beef cows have joined theDunrod ranks, their calves destined to grace plates nationwide. While Rachel grew up on a humble croft and Camy honed his skills as a farm manager, this represents their first foray into full farm ownership. Their courage in opting to “jump the gun” as first-generation tenants does not go unnoticed. However, in choosing to “put the blood, sweat, and tears” into their own land rather than somebody else’s, this devoted couple hopes to reap the rewards.
After a turbulent first year, enthusiasm still surges strong in Rachel and Camy. The driving rain and harsh winds knocking tree branches awry cannot dampen their spirit. “We’ve come to realize that the hard way,” Camy chuckles lightheartedly, lamenting Inverkip’s tendency towards tempestuous weather. Nevertheless, difficulties aside, a palpable sense of pride resonates through both farmers’ words as they survey their domain. “It’s great to be able to say this is actually ours,” remarks Rachel, emphasizing the importance of appreciating the little joys when embarking on such a momentous undertaking.
This appreciation will likely prove crucial, as their second year represents a pivotal “make or break” moment in determining their farm’s future viability. Their goal – to expand their stock numbers rapidly so that Rachel may eventually leave her day job as a farm inspector and focus solely on their own farm. However, with their small flock size rendering their current income wholly reliant on subsidies, and the country’s escalating inflation exacerbating feeding costs, this young couple faces significant obstacles. “The whole plan is expanding it bigger so that at the end of the day, we both can work and do all these things we want to…together, really,” Camy explains, radiating determination.
Braving the Bittersweet Barnyard Bartering
Meanwhile, merely 40 miles down south in Ayrshire’s rolling pastures, the Barclay family diligently strives to steer their multi-generational farm towards a prosperous future. Their farm, Mid Brockloch, has been under Barclay stewardship for over a century. Nestled amongst 200 acres of fertile lowland acres, this farm provides prime grazing ground to nourish their sheep.
However, the last year has wrought seismic shifts for the Barclays. John, the fourth-generation Barclay at Mid Brockloch’s helm, lost his father Robert, the family’s cornerstone, very suddenly last year. This tragic loss of Robert, who so wholeheartedly adored the farm work and his grandsons, has left a profound void. However, with John and Heather’s three young sons serving as the farm’s future, the show must go on.
In honor of Robert’s memory, John has restructured the farm’s operations to alleviate pressure on the children. He felt reluctant to burden them unduly with laborious full-time sheep rearing, given their youth. Thus, the Barclays have commenced buying in lambs sourced from other farms to fatten and sell to market. This new approach necessitates venturing to the unpredictable sphere of the livestock auction weekly.
For John in particular, this direct exposure to other farmers has proven unexpectedly cathartic in his grief over losing his father. He feels grateful for the opportunity to reminisce fondly about Robert with others who had known him. However, these weekly bidding wars still represent a formidable challenge. In the notoriously volatile store lamb market, prices fluctuate dramatically week to week. With each profit-earning flock requiring an initial cash output, the pressure intensifies. “It’s a weekly gamble, but it’s brought unexpected benefits,” John reflects.
If successful in this new business endeavor, John could potentially turnover 2,000 lambs annually. By generating an estimated £30 profit per lamb sold, this provides a potential £60,000 in revenue – a sum that would secure this family farm’s future. “I want to leave a successful business. I want to run a successful business. I want to make a good job,” John states, radiating steadfast resolve.
Pressing Forward With a Pinnacle of Positivity
Far up in Moray, nestled between the Cambus O’May’s gently undulating hills, Nikki and Ollie’s 40-acre Thorabella Farm echoes with the exuberant chaos of five lively children. Alongside their small herd of 20 Highland cattle, an eclectic array of livestock including sheep, pigs, and water buffalo inhabit this land. Rather than maximizing economies of scale, Nikki and Ollie opted for diversity to enable self-sufficiency. As Nikki explains, “The whole plan with the farm was to be as self-sufficient as possible on as many different things as possible.”
Today, the crisp autumn weather provides ideal conditions for pressing homegrown apples into juice. Their family eagerly tackles this task together, young son Toby and daughter Emi inspecting apples alongside Ollie and friend Mike. “It’s not just a wonderful product that you’ve made yourself. It’s that you get together as a family,” remarks Ollie, emphasizing the immense satisfaction derived from including their children in the farm work. The final pasteurized juice holds promise to provide their household’s supply for the entire year ahead, saving them substantial expenditure.
This staunch self-sufficient mindset permeates all aspects of life on Thorabella Farm. Ollie plans to boil buffalo horns sourced from their own dispatched livestock to craft handles and other items, thus preventing waste. “It’s nice being able to use them and they’re so pretty as well when they went away, you know, you might as well make the most of them,” he comments cheerfully. However, with their small acreage generating limited income opportunities, Ollie continues working off-farm at a maltings. The buffalo herd presents another diversification to potentially allow Ollie to reduce these hours, thereby enabling him to spend more time with Nikki and their five children on the farm.
Highland Hopes and Horned Happenings
Today brings great anticipation for one of their 22 buffalo, named Apache. Apache occupies a special place in the family’s hearts and has been running with a bull for over a year now in hopes of pregnancy. However, tragedy struck last summer when she delivered a stillborn calf, suggesting potential reproductive issues. Veterinarian Julie Enka arrives to decisively diagnose whether Apache awaits a spring calf. If not pregnant, she would likely be dispatched. “It’ll be a shame to lose her. She’s a good cow. She’s one of our original three as well,” Nikki says softly, stroking Apache’s coat while awaiting the vet’s examination results.
After a thorough abdominal palpation, Julie happily announces that Apache is indeed pregnant with an active calf. Relief floods Nikki and Ollie’s faces, both utterly overjoyed at this long-awaited news. Apache’s new motherhood secures her place as an integral member of the herd. She will grace pastures for years to come with calves by her side.
Thorabella Farm’s small acreage necessitates that nothing goes to waste. As Ollie collects Apache’s horns after her eventual passing, he will repeat this process of transforming waste into wonderful keepsakes and crafts. However, with Apache’s exciting pregnancy, that day lies far in the future. For now, Ollie can refocus attention on his boiling buffalo horns experiment, which presently fills the air with a pungent but not altogether unpleasant aroma. Laughter rings out as Ollie tests out his ingenious concept of crafting a musical horn from the hollowed buffalo horn. The result – a resonating wail reminiscent of an aged bugle emanating from the depths of ages past – delights man, woman, and child alike with its uniqueness.
As days shorten into the year’s final months, a palpable sense of communal kinship and fervent hope for prosperity ahead unites Scotland’s farming families. From John Barclay steadfastly striving to continue his family legacy, to Camy Jackson and Rachel Hamilton venturing bravely into farm ownership, each farmer perspectives the days ahead with tenacious optimism. Their successes, no matter how small, demonstrate that the nation’s agricultural communities remain resilient as ever.
The tales of these remarkable farming families provide invaluable insight into the resilient mindset required to not merely survive, but thrive, off the land’s bounty. Several key themes emerge when analyzing their varied experiences. Firstly, openness to innovation and adaptation enables farmers to navigate unpredictable markets. The Barclays demonstrated this by transitioning to buying in lambs when family dynamics shifted. Secondly, sharing the labor as a multigenerational family unit creates both sustainability and an all-important sense of fulfillment. Nikki and Ollie epitomize this in the way they involve their children. Finally, retaining fierce optimism and resolve even in harsh conditions leads to triumph over adversity. Rachel and Camy have encountered myriad challenges, but their shared dream propels them unrelentingly forward.
Scotland’s farmers face escalating uncertainty, necessitating agility, grit, and imagination. However, the nation owes an immense debt of gratitude to those like the families profiled here who tirelessly toil upon its fertile acres. The agricultural community’s unwavering dedication supplies the lifeblood coursing through Scotland’s veins – from the golden barley fields rustling in the windswept Highlands to the emerald pastures dotted with woolly lambs come springtime. As long as steadfast farmers walk her terrain, the future shines bright for this proud country.
What is Rachel and Camy’s goal for their sheep flock size in 5 years?
Rachel and Camy have set an ambitious goal of expanding their sheep flock to 5,000 animals within 5 years. This large number is key for generating sufficient income from their hill farm in Inverkip.
How did John’s father, Robert Barclay, pass away?
Robert Barclay, father of John Barclay who runs Mid Brockloch Farm, sadly died suddenly of a heart attack just after celebrating his 70th birthday. His passing was an enormous loss for the Barclay family.
What kind of buffalo do Nikki and Ollie have on their farm?
Nikki and Ollie keep a small herd of water buffalo on their farm. These large bovids originally hail from Asia but thrive in Scotland’s climate. The buffalo provide meat which Nikki and Ollie sell.
Where is Dunrod Farm located?
Dunrod Farm is situated on the coast of western Scotland overlooking the Firth of Clyde in Inverkip, about 30 miles west of Glasgow. It has 500 acres of rough hillground ideal for sheep grazing.
What is Maybole known for?
Maybole is a small town located in South Ayrshire, Scotland. It is best known for farming, especially sheep rearing. Many farmers in Maybole raise lambs to sell as store lambs to other farms for fattening.