Will’s World: How to practise ‘leaner’ farming

New year’s resolutions are a funny idea, when you think about it.

Resolving to cut down on sugary snacks, planning to read more books, or deciding this will finally be the year that you learn another language or how to play the guitar.

All are certainly noble ambitions, but why do we have to leave it until 1 January before starting?

See also: Apply for Britain’s Fittest Farmer 2024

About the author

Will Evans
Farmers Weekly Opinion writer
Will Evans farms beef cattle and arable crops across 200ha near Wrexham in North Wales in partnership with his wife and parents.
Read more articles by Will Evans

It seems to me, given the dark nights and bad weather at this time, it’s the least likely month that anyone would succeed at anything.

Some masochists even commit to Dry January, when surely alcohol is one of the few things that gets us through to spring in this country.

It’s certainly been the case with me in the past, anyway, and new years have traditionally been paved with good intentions.

I think I even optimistically resolved one year to “be a better farmer”, but unsurprisingly that had gone out of the window by the first week of February when the spot price of wheat was at £280 and I’d sold forward at £240.

Rest assured that I won’t be jinxing things in that way again. I remain thoroughly content in my agricultural mediocrity.

Mid-year resolutions

But this time’s different. Yes, 2024 is going to be my year. Because I’ve cheated the system that’s so set up for failure by beginning my big resolution back on 1 August.

Who says middle-aged men can’t be rebels, eh? Take that, conventionality! 

I decided I’d get fit again. I’ve done a bit of running for years, and never been in really bad shape, but I don’t think I’ve ever been in particularly good shape either.

In recent years, with all my “spare time” taken up by dad-taxiing my daughters around the country, accidentally getting into some poor eating habits, and seeing a few photos of myself looking a bit chunky (including the shots for this page, which I’m using as motivation – thanks FW), I was feeling a bit unhealthy and thought I’d do something about it.

With my infamously low attention span, though, how would I go about it and stay incentivised? I’ve got a bit bored with running.

You’d take your life into your hands cycling on the roads around here, as you could easily fall into a pothole and drown, so that doesn’t appeal.

I don’t really have the time to drive to a swimming pool several times a week, either, so I wasn’t sure which way to go.

Then I happened to read about a fellow Welsh farmer who’d diversified into personal fitness training and offered an online coaching programme with the stupendously cool name of Cattle Strength.

So I nervously got in touch to see if he could help me.

Rhys was incredible from the start, helping me design a plan around family and farming. He offered non-stop encouragement and advice, as well as the accountability I needed to keep me going.

If you can’t beat ’em…

Five months later, and it’s no exaggeration to say I feel like a new man.

I’m physically and mentally fitter, I’m enjoying hitting targets and beating personal bests, and I feel like I’m setting a good example for my daughters again.

But the greatest endorsement for the progress I’m making came from the Queen of Damning with Faint Praise herself, the present Mrs Evans.

When I asked her if she’d noticed any difference in my appearance, she looked me up and down and stated the immortal line: “Hmmm, yes, you do look a bit less squidgy now.”

Look out Britain’s Fittest Farmer 2024 – I’m coming for you.