5 minutes with Shetland young farmer Jakob Eunson

Welcome to “5 minutes with”, our regular feature where we get to know one of Britain’s brightest and best young farmers.

By celebrating our young farmers and promoting what they do, we hope to generate even more interest in farming from younger age groups and help make sure they get all the support they need to thrive in the future.

This time we’re getting to know Shetland beef and sheep farmer Jakob Eunson.

See also: How to make the most of social media to promote farming

What’s your name and how old are you?

My name is Jakob Eunson and I’m 20 years old.

Where do you come from?

I’m from Uradale, East Voe, Shetland.

Are you on Twitter and Instagram? Do you have a business page on Facebook?

The farm has Instagram for the yarn, @Uradale_yarn, and the Facebook page is Uradale Farm Meats.

What sort of farm do you live/work on?

I live on an organic beef and lamb finishing farm. It’s mostly made up of heathery hills, but we have inland fields we use for pasture and silage fields.

We rear Shetland native sheep and cattle. I am a trained butcher and use this skill in butchering the beef and lamb to supply to local shop.

What do you get up to on the farm?

I am involved in all aspects of the business. I feed the kye (Shetland name for cattle) in the winter. Caa in the hills for the clipping and working with them in the crö (caa is to gather in sheep and crö are holding pens with a race).

In the spring and summer I work in the fields planting grass seed, rolling, topping and spreading muck.

What do you get up to when you are not farming?

I hang out with friends, watch films or play for the senior Scalloway football team.

What’s in your lunchbox?

I live in my own house on the farm, so I usually fry up something for dinner such as fried egg rolls or my favourite, and a Shetland delicacy, Sassermaet – it’s a bit like lorne sausage but 10 times better.

What’s the best bit about farming?

Going home after a hard day and taking pride in what you have done. A huge bonus is hearing the positive feedback from the people I sell to – that’s heartwarming and encourages me to continue.

What’s the most frustrating bit about farming?

How the NFU and government don’t realise the difficulties of farming in Shetland and think what works down south should apply here. 

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

I would still like to be here and have the meat side of the business make farming sustainable and not reliant on a subsidy that is benefiting farmers with the best land with 200 days of growing season, instead of farmers and crofters in Shetland with 100 days. 

What’s your proudest achievement to date?

I think my proudest achievement is the Industry Champion award given to me by Lantra Scotland. It was incredibly humbling and proved to me that working a full day and at night cutting up a side of beef for a local shop is worth the hard work.

Even if some days you fail, at least you’ve tried and people take notice and respect hard work.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

It was from my dad. He quotes Gary Player, a professional golfer from years ago.

Somebody once asked him if he was lucky after he had just won a championship. His reply: “The harder I try, the luckier I get.”

When you’re in the tractor cab, what’s your top tune, podcast or audiobook?

The last audiobook I listened to was the Harry Potter series in the summer and my top tunes are any songs from Blake Shelton and Lee Brice.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing UK farming today?

The biggest challenge for the UK farmer right now is Brexit, with so much uncertainty regarding subsidies and what the government plans to do.

I have a fear the islands will be forgotten about because on paper they don’t have the best ground or turnout, but that’s the very ignorant, short-sighted view.

From my own experience, Shetland can rear the Shetland lamb with no additional feed or costs, which means it’s the most economically valuable breed out there.