Farmer Focus: 6 things I’ve learned since my return to farming

I returned home to farm in Shropshire three years ago, having previously worked as a chartered surveyor in London for seven years.

I’m extremely proud to be the third generation to milk cows at Lower Wood since my grandfather arrived here in 1947.

The past three years can best be described as a baptism of fire, largely due to the 10p/litre swing in the milk price.

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We have added to this challenge by undertaking significant investment, doubling the size of the herd and upgrading facilities.

It’s been quite the learning curve. So, I thought I would share some of the things I have learned so far:

  1. Farming is mostly about problem solving. Staff tend to only come to you if there is an issue, so learning to deal with it quickly and calmly is key. My dad would say I am still working on the latter, especially after replacing the seventh tyre on the JCB this year.
  2. Surround yourself with like-minded, positive people when it comes to the likes of contractors, vets and advisers. We are really lucky to work with a good team of people who share our ambitions.
  3. You will become a farming geek. You suddenly find yourself talking about farming in the pub, on WhatsApp, out at parties… but the work chat never seems to get boring.
  4. You will fall asleep at any given opportunity. This has happened in the church at numerous weddings this summer and at the dinner table before our guests have left.
  5. Staff management can be tricky. Picking up Polish phrases has aided communication, but I can’t yet work out if some of these words should be repeated.
  6. Be like a sponge and take on board as much advice as you can. However, it’s important to recognise which system suits your farm and stick to what you are good at.

On reflection, I wouldn’t change my career move and despite the challenges, I’m pleased to say I remain as focused and determined as ever. I look forward to sharing the trials and tribulations with you over the next 12 months.

Henry Wilson milks 225 Holsteins on a tenancy alongside his parents Jean and Chris in Alberbury, Shropshire. Cows calve year-round with milk supplied to Muller on a non-aligned contract. Focus is placed on good cow health, fertility and business efficiency.