Will’s World: The art of farming (and living) sustainably

I was recently asked what single piece of advice I’d give to my younger self. Not having particularly considered this question before, I was rather stumped for a minute or two.

I’m not really one for handing out advice, you see, generally operating as I do on a wing and a prayer, trusting to luck rather than judgement in most areas of my life.

See also: How to build climate resilience into farm business plans

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.
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Take relationships, for example – the present Mrs Evans and I have been happily together for almost 20 years now, but I wouldn’t dream of giving anyone advice in this regard.

I was just very fortunate to find someone who puts up with my terrible jokes and weirdness.

Working as hard as she does, I don’t think she’d ever have the energy to leave me anyway.

Though I suspect the fact that I look so sexy in the Crocs-and-socks combo that I’m regularly wearing round the house these days also has something to do with her sticking around. She’s not made of wood, after all.

The important things

Farming is the last thing on earth I’d ever give anyone advice on, as I’ve never believed I’m much good at it, despite my continued efforts to improve.

Sure, I’m proud of our family business, and we have our minor successes, but that’s mostly down to everyone else involved.

I’ll certainly never be half the farmer my old man is, anyway. But there you go, I enjoy doing it, as well as bringing our daughters up here, and that’s probably the most important thing.

Speaking of our delightful offspring, considering just how much I’m making it up as I go along, I certainly wouldn’t presume to provide the young Will Evans with any words of wisdom on parenting.

Although, given that the little darlings spent the majority of half-term week either fighting with each other like cats or dramatically storming out of various rooms, I did briefly consider counselling him to be extremely disciplined with birth control in future years. It would certainly help with his finances, too.

Despite my initial hesitation, though, I suppose there’s lots of good, sensible answers to the question.

Stop caring what other people think of you, try to maintain a good diet and be physically active, avoid negative people like the plague, read as many books as you can, and be sure to regularly tell your loved ones that you love them, are just a few that immediately spring to mind.

Easy does it

Eventually I settled on a piece of advice that’s obvious in principle but isn’t always so easy in practice: don’t be too hard on yourself.

I know that we need to continually challenge ourselves and having done several things over the past few years that have put me well and truly outside my comfort zone, I realise how important that is for personal growth and development.

But it’s also OK to know that you’re never going to be perfect and get everything right, and I wish I’d realised that much earlier in life.

I spent too many years beating myself up about what I’m not good at, rather than focusing on the things I can do well.

In the end, it left me chronically lacking in self-confidence, physically burned out, and mentally exhausted.

I don’t do that anymore, accepting that doing my best is far more important than being the best, and I’m far happier as a result.

If I can be a half-decent husband, farmer and father, and can make a few of you laugh at my nonsense occasionally, then that’s enough.