Will’s World: We’re all going on a farming family holiday

We managed to get away for a week’s holiday abroad with some good friends of ours at the end of October.

With seven young daughters between us, it was never going to be a quiet and relaxing time, but we certainly enjoyed ourselves and made a lot of memories in the process.

We swam in the sea, ate the most amazing food, encountered friendly and welcoming people wherever we went, and enjoyed the last warm sunshine we’ll see for a while.

See also: How farmers can deal with mental health at times of pressure

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

The only downside was the mosquitos, which further contributed to my long-held theory that pale-skinned Welsh people aren’t really meant to travel anywhere more exotic than Tenby.

Honestly, it’s not enough that the aphids are doing their best to eat all my barley, their insect cousins have to eat me as well.

But they weren’t enough to spoil our fun, and I even managed to get a slight tan while we were there, meaning that I’m now half a shade darker than the human Pritt Stick that I usually resemble.

Leave it out

Until recently, though, I struggled with holidays. I’d get really stressed trying to have everything done and organised before leaving home.

It would take me at least five days to switch off from farming and the rush of everyday life when I was there.

I’d then have one day just about enjoying myself before having to head back again, asking myself if it was worth all the cost and effort of going in the first place, while driving my wonderful and long-suffering wife, Sarah, mad in the process.

But I’ve got much better at them in recent years, for a variety of reasons – and I think she’d agree. It could be partly because we couldn’t go anywhere for a while due to lockdown.

I suppose that – combined with the fact that children have the terrible habit of growing up far too quickly – has made me suddenly very conscious of trying to spend quality time with them while I still can.

Our eldest daughter will be a teenager next year, and I’m already starting to mortify her just for existing (I’ve been told repeatedly that I sneeze too loudly recently – “It’s soooo embarrassing!”), so the countdown has well and truly begun.

It’s also the fact that after years of telling myself that I had to work as many days of the year as possible so that I could be a “real farmer” and feeling ridiculously guilty if I had the odd afternoon off, I’ve finally realised that was complete and utter nonsense, and wasn’t healthy at all.

I’d got myself into a position where I was working for the farm instead of the farm working for me, and as a result it made me a far worse farmer, as well as a worse husband and father.

Being mentally and physically exhausted, as I’ve discovered, isn’t a lot of fun for me or the people around me – nor does it make good business sense.

Holiday helpings

There was some research conducted by international accountancy firm Ernst & Young, which found that for each additional 10 hours of holiday employees took, their year-end performance ratings improved by 8%.

Plus, staff who took regular holidays were far less likely to leave the firm.

I know that doesn’t necessarily translate directly into family farming businesses where it isn’t easy to get away at the best of times – never mind the financial cost – but the message is pretty clear nonetheless.

If we don’t look after ourselves, we can’t look after our farms or our families.

I’m looking forward to the next holiday already.