Sunday, 25 August 2013

A Farming Day

Yesterday was our local show - The Wensleydale Show - which is held within walking distance of our farm.   For the first time in the twenty years I have been married to the farmer, I didn't go with him.   I am having severe ankle/foot problems (am going for an MRI scan this afternoon - August Bank Holiday Sunday!) so he went off on his own, but took my camera so that he could take some photographs for me.

Friday evening it poured with rain and we were sure it would rain all yesterday, but suddenly, at about ten o'clock it cleared and they had a dry day, so it was well attended.

First he had to go to the village of West Witton where he judges the hay, fruit and vegetable sections.  Then, after a quick coffee he walked up to the showground.

The show was well-attended, he met lots of farming friends, he had a nice lunch in his local feed merchants tent and came back home at half past four after an enjoyable day.   Then it was take the dogs round the fields, shower, change and take me out for dinner to a local pub for our twentieth wedding anniversary.  Quite a full day for a seventy year old, but he came through it with flying colours.

It set me thinking, and we chatted about it over our meal in the evening (marvellous garlic mushrooms in a cream and bacon sauce) - so many of our farming friends either are themselves or have sons who are unmarried.

The daughters on the whole have married out of farming, apart from one, who is now a wonderful farmer's wife - just as her mother is too - but we know many sons in their thirties and forties who don't even have girl friends.

As the average age of farmers in this country is I think around sixty three, where does this leave farming in the future?   One or two trends are creeping in of course - farms are getting much bigger and when farms come on the market they tend to be bought up by neighbouring farmers,   The fact is that it is no longer viable to farm small farms (which most of them were in The Dales) and that in order to survive a Dairy herd has to be well over 100 with a similar number of followers.   But nevertheless, unless farmer's sons marry there will not be another generation to follow on.

Why do they find it so hard?   First of all they have to work very hard - either at the family farm or often both at home and at another farm to make enough money to live on if Dad is still working. If they are milking they won't finish work until well after eight in the evening.   I know that people say you never see a poor farmer, that farmers are always driving around in four wheel drive new vehicles and have new tractors, machinery etc.   But again I think this is part of the problem.   This is a purely personal view but I believe that any spare money made is immediately ploughed back into the farm - a new tractor (£40,000+), update the milking system, update the buildings, a new milking parlour with better equipment.  I suspect that this often means that the house and/or the wife goes without -  if she is at home looking after small children (Dad might be at home all day but he is too busy to supervise children in an unsafe environment) her clothing allowance might be limited or non-existent, is there enough money for a dishwasher?  or a drier? or








a kitchen update?   I doubt it.

Whatever the reason, I see all these chaps in their thirties, forties and fifties, still living at home and with no female friends and I am sad for them.

Enjoy the photographs of the show courtesy of the farmer:

16 comments:

Tom Stephenson said...

Is 'The Young Farmer's Club' still going? It is years since I have seen one of those bumper-stickers with 'Young Farmers do it in wellies' on it. I hope they don't have an average age of 63 as well.

Crafty Green Poet said...

The show looks like a good event, Hope your feet and ankles feel better soon.

Sad that people are leaving farming and the young farmers find it hard to find partners

Twiglet said...

Lovely photos of a bit of traditional "show - time".

Rachel said...

Young Farmers Clubs are alive and well in Norfolk. My brothers all met their wives courtesy of the YFC.

Heather said...

So sorry your ankle is still giving you trouble and hope help will soon be at hand.
The farmers beautiful photos take me back to when our little town had it's annual show - I love the smaller ones where everyone knows everyone.
It must be almost impossible for some young farmers to have time for a social life, and as you say, money has to be put back into the business rather than being spent on stylish clothes or decor. Sadly everything has to be 'big business' these days.

Pam said...

Seems to be that way in Australia too, if the t.v. program "Farmer Wants a Wife" is anything to go by. Most are young bachelors, but they did have a father and son combination at one time looking for romance - some of the homesteads certainly need a woman's touch!...and in Australia distance and isolation are often added to the workload when these men explain their situation.

Joanne Noragon said...

I've judged at a county fair. It is painstaking, and tedious to separate the good from the best.

A Heron's View said...

Sounds a bit like last century Ireland; around here 99% of the farmers are married and most of them with children.
Our local country show is on Ist September and hopefully it will not be a washout!

A Heron's View said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
angryparsnip said...

I so understand some of what you said when I was married to my x all moneys we made when back into the company or to pay wages. we were often left with very little to live on. We had a budget down to a penny.
From what I have learned from your blog, farming is very hard and time consuming but what a beautiful place you live in.
In Japan there is a trend starting that may who moved to live in the cramped big cities are starting to move back to the countryside.
I hope this keeps up.

cheers, parsnip

MorningAJ said...

But how did the MRI go?

Bovey Belle said...

We have thriving YFC's here in Wales, but there are still noticable numbers of young and middle-aged farmers who have never married. One up the valley runs a one-man farm and has very elderly parents and unless she has died, an even more elderly granny to support too. I doubt he ever got out anywhere much to socialize, which I think is the main thing. 'twas the same with Dai up the hill - never met anyone who seemed to want to be a farmer's wife to a chap who looked - at best - like a scrawny pirate!!!

I hope your scan revealed a problem which can soon be eased.

Cro Magnon said...

My two farming neighbours are quite different. On one side the daughter of the family has taken over the farm (and is doing a fabulous job), on the other the daughter has gone off to become an accountant.

thelma said...

Well your husband did you proud on the photos. Sad to think that the young farmers are not getting married because of a strenuous work life, and having to buy all this expensive farm machinery, not sure what the answer is but I suspect farms will become bigger and bigger, as they will be taken over by larger conglomerates and that would be terrible....

The Weaver of Grass said...

Money plays a part I think - sad but then that is true of everything isn't it?
Thanks for joining in.

Molly said...

I enjoyed reading this post. Your Farmer has taken some great pictures. Pat, you're right about unmarried farmers - the problem is all over UK and not just in the Dales. I think in the 60's most of us met our husbands at the village dances - (none of those happen any more) Also 99% of the youth and the girls I knew have stayed married to their same partners over all these years. We're coming up to our 48th wedding anniversary next year. Lots of congratulations on your wedding anniversary too.