Direct Driller Sept 2023
Its hot, very hot! The last few days here on the Cambs / Suffolk boarder have been blazed in 30+ degree days, summer has arrived at last and I have been able to enjoy it safe in the knowledge that harvest is done and dusted for another year.
Writing this today, sat in a lovely little coffee shop, is a perfect excuse for me to reflect over the past 8 months since my last DD article. A lot has happened, in our personal and professional lives. My previous article was really well received, thank you to everyone who reached out to me – the power of written words never fails to amaze me!
Turning 40yrs old, moving house (during harvest!!) and my little girls 3rd birthday were all big milestones for me and my family. Moving house was particularly testing and mentally emotional, we have been so lucky to find a beautiful new home where our new landlord is a conservation farmer. There are wonderful flower margins going down our drive and we have fields at our gateway that are a wonderful array of cover crops right now and will be Wildfarmed crops next spring 😊 Just perfect!
I have really thrown myself into farm meetings, events and field walks over the past 6 months. Socially it was just what I needed, to reconnect with many old faces and to establish new relationships with some fascinating people and businesses. Some highlights included –
A visit, on a cold Feb morning, to John Pawsey’s wonderful Shimpling Park Farm was a fantastic way of starting the farm visits for 2023. Every time I get the opportunity to visit John’s business, I come away fully inspired by what is going on there. John has a wicked sense of humour; I love the way he pokes fun at himself (and others) and is always so honest about his successes and failures. I thought it was interesting how John took time to talk about his team and what he has done, and continues to do, to get that team established and to flourish.
In May I was lucky to be able to visit Andy Cato’s WildFarmed HQ at Colleymore farm, with a fantastic group from BASE UK. WHAT A DAY!! The sun was shining, Andy and his team were amazing hosts and the information shared was just mind-blowing. I don’t think I have ever been on a farm walk where everyone was so engaged and focused on what we saw and heard. Andy and his Wildfarmed team have created something special in my opinion and it was a privilege to be able to see his crops and hear from the WF team about all things marketing, production and consumer requirements.
Groundswell Festival wrapped things up for me before I turned my attention to 2023 harvest. What a wonderful 24hrs I had this year at this truly unique farming event. I hadn’t been for a couple of years and the obvious increase in size was a bit of an eye opener, but that didn’t seem to affect the quality of the festival experience for me. As with many things in life, I like to take any opportunity I get to learn new things, so with that in mind I sat in on a couple of fascinating lectures about direct sales and marketing, and Silvopasture. In the evening I caught up with an old friend I hadn’t seen from school (20yrs ago), it was just amazing to catch up with her over a cider in a such a unique setting. This event seems to of created a real chalk and cheese type feedback from many people, some that feel it has become too festival like….I find that really odd to be honest. For me, I think it is great that an event exists that has created this social / learning experience that enables people to really dial in on some fascinating topics during the day and then to unwind and socialise in the evening. My only regret was just camping 1 night, next year I will really make a 3 day event of it!
With my thoughts now on harvest, I had a brilliant opportunity to help a friend out over harvest on his farm. The first harvest for me since 2014, where I was properly back on machinery and not bogged down in the management element of it all. And I enjoyed it so much! Now harvest is done I am off to help another friend with the drilling season, another one of the jobs I use to really enjoy a lot and one that I am really excited to get stuck into again.
Getting back on machinery and working with some great farmers this year (from early spring to now) has really made me fall back in love with farming again to be honest. As a farm manager, the job can be extremely isolating at times – I have vowed going forward that I will only be surrounding myself with positive people, inside and outside of the industry. We all know that feeling of being around people that are of similar mindset to you, or at least where you want to be, you feel inspired and more motivated to get more out of life. This is why I have turned my full focus on establishing myself as a strategic farm manager, a coach and mentor. I want to help more people and businesses, utilising my farm management experiences and knowledge in lots of useful ways that I know can be really helpful.
Really focusing on myself over the past 10 months has been life changing to be honest. I have had the opportunity to be more present with my little girl and wife, which has given me a new perspective on things. I have never walked so much either, my daily dog walks are now integral in my morning routine. Getting a health and fitness coach (https://www.fatherfitpt.com) to help me reach new highs has been the best investment I have ever made, and I am about to invest in myself again with a business coach to help me really get things moving forward on that front too.
I appreciate harvest was hardwork for the majority this season, but I hope it was a safe one and one that can now be reflected on with a level of satisfaction. I wish everyone well for the upcoming drilling season and hope to see many of you at various events this autumn and winter.
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Sunset at Groundswell 2023
Andy Cato giving us a fascinating talk at Colleymore Farm.
John Pawsey talking about his unique System Cameleon drill