It is hard not to with such amazing scenery, crisp fresh air and abundance of nature. There is just something homely and tranquil about it.
Yet the countryside is also a hectic workplace for farmers up and down the country who are just trying to make a living the best way they know how.
As farmers, we want everyone to be able to enjoy the countryside as much as we do taking care of it, but we really appreciate some respect for our workplace when you are out and about on your weekend strolls.
Here are nine things farmers would like countryside walkers to remember…
1. Cows live in the countryside too!
Contrary to social media opinion, cows, bulls and calves still occupy the fields on a regular basis and are often found chudding happily away without a care in the world.
But be prepared for their reaction to you and your dog, especially if there is young livestock nearby.
After all, cows are protective of their newborn young – something seven year old me discovered!
Remember to remain quiet and calm when walking through a field of cows and calves, avoiding any startling movements that may spook them.
And should the worst happen, let GO of your dog and its lead – it can outrun a cow, meaning you can get to safety separately, saving yourself buckets of sweat and a lot of swearing!
2. Pick up your dog muck
Dog poo is known to spread Neosporosis – a disease causing cows to abort their calves or become infected if carried to term.
It is a massive pet peeve for farmers, since it only takes dog walkers a few seconds to pick up poo and dispose of it correctly, but failure to do so can cost a farmer his livelihood!
Poo really isn’t a big deal – farmers deal with tons of it on a daily basis, whether cleaning out sheds, milking cows or muck-spreading.
So take some responsibility and clean up after your pooch – after all you really wouldn’t like it if we came and left our cow crap in your back garden!
3. Buy an up-to-date map .. and stick to it!
Like most things in life, changes can happen and land is no exception to this.
New ownership means that public footpaths are often redirected to suit a farmers’ long term plan, meaning you should use an up-to-date map to avoid trespassing and being shouted at!
It will also save you knocking on farm house doors/ walking into lambing sheds to ask for directions and taking up a farmer’s precious time, meaning you have more time to explore the countryside, and the farmer can carry on with his daily tasks like normal.
4. Leave the gates alone
If you find the gate open, leave it open.
If you find the gate closed, leave it closed.
Farmers leave gates exactly how they want them and nothing is more frustrating than moving a flock of sheep or herd of heifers to find someone has shut the gate which they are supposed to be turning into!
Just leave the gates alone. Please.
5. Don’t interfere
Don’t get me wrong, farmers appreciate your concern and are grateful when you inform us about something wrong you discovered on your walks.
But more often than not, we are aware that our tup is lame or that there is a gap in the fence and we are dealing with it. There really is no need for you to interfere.
Unless it is something urgent, such as the pigs have escaped and are making a mud-bath of the village green, presume we have it covered!
6. Unless a sheep is on its back
Please intervene if you see a sheep on its back struggling to get up – it is ‘rigged’ and will not be able to get up by itself.
7. Don’t rely on 3G
It may be the 21st century but the countryside still has sparse 3G and limited signal!
Chances are google maps will fail to load and you’ll be stranded in a field completely lost, with limited signal to call for help should an emergency occur.
And whilst you think you may look really cool re-enacting the Simba scene, you just look like a daft townie to farmers, who forgot to buy an up-to-date map and lack a common sense of direction.
Just put your smartphone away and enjoy the countryside in all its glory. You can Instagram that photo of the view once you are back home with a cuppa.
8. It is private for a reason
Farmyards are incredibly busy and sometimes dangerous workplaces, making them private for a reason!
Just stick to the footpath.
We are not trying to hide anything from you, rather prevent an accident from occurring – we are often not aware of your presence and so have not factored it into our (mental) risk assessment of our task.
The last thing we want is for a member of the public to be hurt on our farm. So please just stick to the footpath, and if you do have to cross a farmyard to reach your destination be quick and quiet – no dawdling!
9. Keep your dog on a lead around livestock
The countryside is a great place to exercise your dogs but please remember to keep them on a lead around livestock.
If I have to shout at any more dog walkers, I will go blue in the face!
Yes, most of you keep your dogs on leads when in fields with livestock and I cannot thank you enough.
But for those that don’t, try telling the farmer who has found his beloved flock dead, maned and stressed your excuses: ‘my dog would never chase or kill a sheep/ he’s so well trained he doesn’t need to be on a lead / she’s too small to do any damage’ and then watch his reaction.
As owners, you should realise dogs have sudden instincts and every dog is capable of harming sheep, regardless of temperament, size, breed etc. Just take some RESPONSIBILITY.
The last thing farmers want to do is lawfully shoot your pooch but sometimes there is no other alternative.
Just keep your dog on a lead around livestock. It is that simple.
So those are my top nine things I, as a young farmer, would like countryside walkers to remember during their weekend strolls.
It really is possible for everyone to enjoy the countryside and still be respectful to the people and animals living and working there!
Being at home for summer has made me feel nostalgic.
Here are 10 things you will know if you grew up on a farm!
Nothing is ever a five minute job
If they say it is then they are lying!
You’ve learned from experience that lending a ‘quick hand’ turns into a twenty minute operation followed by a list of jobs that takes you all morning to complete, making you question why you volunteered in the first place.
Bale twine fixes everything
Waterproof trousers too big? Bale twine belt.
Setting up a temporary race? Bale twine.
Lost your dog lead? Bale twine.
You’ve probably lost count of the amount of times someone has asked you for some whilst working. It has happened so often that you dream about charging. After all, it’s an essential pocket requisite that fixes almost every problem.
You can’t out run a sheep
But you can certainly try! You counted this as your daily workout as it left you out of breathe and threatening to sell the troublesome (to put it politely) ewe at auction the first chance you get.
There is no such thing as being snowed in
Snow is no longer exciting when there is a 4×4 always on hand. But you do look pretty cool rocking up to school on your dad’s tractor.
Who let the ewes out?
Field gates left open becomes a Spanish Inquisition around the kitchen table. No matter how many times you proclaimed your innocence, the blame was assigned to you and dad muttering ‘next time I’ll do the job myself’.
Days off always coincide with bad weather
Booking planned events and actually going is something of a novelty to you. Especially in summer when you are constantly on call for seasonal jobs.
Friends know from experience that you will be missing in action once the weather forecast improves as you’ll be either in the shearing shed or driving a tractor, whether you want to or not. After all, farming comes first in your household.
What’s a lie in?
Certainly something that doesn’t happen in your household with your parents considering any time after 8.30am a lie in.
And the horror (and slight envy) when university friends text you at 4pm saying ‘sorry I’ve only just woken up’ whilst you have been working hard all day.
Love/Hate relationship with the weather man
You developed a changeable relationship with the weather forecasts from an early age as it was the most discussed subject on the farm.
TVs were often tutted at and switched off if they stated unsuitable weather for proposed plans and there was an element of speculation surrounding upcoming forecasts. You constantly played a game of who dares win and it was typical for it to rain once you have grass down.
But no matter how many times you trolled the internet in search of a more favourable weather report it always stayed the same – or sometimes got worse! You just learned to get on with it.
Smartphone but no signal
You have spent years searching for a certain spot in the shed where there is enough signal to send a text. In fact you have perfected the lion king scene, holding the phone up high and hoping it sends.
Yet dodgy signal still plagued your rural life and internet was a rarity. People who sent Snapchats/Instagram posts from the lambing shed simply amazed you!
Fine dining equals a trip to the local auction
You were more than happy to accompany your dad to the auction and stand around a cold ring looking at livestock just for those auction lunches. You developed a favouritism towards a certain auction mart cafe and believed they were second best to your mum’s roast dinner.
Those are my top ten things – if you have any please let me know below!
A phrase often muttered from Dad’s mouth, ‘I’ll do it later’ seems to be the attitude I, like many students, adopted recently towards revising for my second year exams.
Another technique I mastered was the art of procrastination, with the farmyard offering a variety of distractions making it incredibly hard to stay inside and revise.
Here are my top revision tips for country dwellers with upcoming exams to ensure you utilise your surroundings and do not get too distracted!
Fresh Air & Exercise.
Being surrounded by fields has never been so advantagoeus when it comes to revision breaks. There is nothing better than taking the border collies for walks through the meadows, or a quick jog around the fields to check if any lambs have got stuck in the fence. By breaking up study periods into shorter sessions and exercising, you are boosting brain activity for a more effective study, in addition to lowering stress levels and easing the pressure. So put down your highlighters and shove on your wellies for 5-10 minutes or so for a beneficial refreshing break.
Use friends/family .. and animals!
Farmers love to talk so why not utilise this opportunity to teach friends and family your revision? By teaching the material to others, you will aid your memory and recall skills as it requires you to learn and organise your knowledge in a clear and structured manner. It can demonstrate you know more than you think or identify areas you need to go back over.
And if you would rather your ‘students’ don’t talk back or ask further questions, then teach it to your favourite heifer/tup/pig/goat/any other farmyard occupant for an additional confidence boost.
Find the right environment to revise
Okay, so sitting in the middle of a field or the cattle shed is probably not the best place to revise.
From bees buzzing around to sheep bleating, it is full of interruptions that will cost you your desired grade. Instead, work in an environment that will not distract you, whether its your bedroom, kitchen table, parents’ office, or a local library!
Basically anywhere with a desk, so that you can spread out your revision and get going without any distractions.
Trips to the auction mart offer more than just updates on trade and a chance to have a chinwag with other local farmers in that THERE IS ALWAYS A GOOD CAFE.
Eating a healthy balanced diet can help you focus and avoid illness whilst revising, and the auction cafe serves a variety of good wholesome British food waiting for you to tuck into.
Create a plan
Just like farming in that you plan your activities such as dosing sheep on a Tuesday, cleaning the tractor on Wednesday afternoon and possibly cutting the grass should it continue being sunny on Friday morning, you need to create a revision plan that is achievable in terms of the subjects you are revising and the time available.
And just like farming, your plan needs to be flexible as somethings may take longer/be harder than you though – if you haven’t grasped a certain topic area, try looking at it from a different approach rather than postponing/ignoring it. Be flexible but stern in your approach to revising and you will reap the benefits!
WELL DONE FOR REVISING – nobody ever says this in real life but they really should. It is important that you reward yourself when you have finally grasp a tough subject/remember a definition/can quote a literary text. So whether you have been eyeing up a new Schoffel fleece, a vital tractor part or simply an ice-cream from your local dairy farm, go ahead and do it. YOU DESERVE IT.
Think Positively and Relax
Revision can be very dispiriting, especially when you’re working on subjects that you struggle with. But it needs stressing that failing exams is not the end of the world – seriously.
All you can do is give it your best shot, like everything in life. Remember your sole value is not that you got a B in GCSE Chemistry or an 51 in your University Economics module exam.
You have skills and talents beyond the classroom, such as an ability to shear sheep, drive tractors, plant trees, bake delicious cakes or bombard Instagram with photographs of the farm (GUILTY!) and you should be proud of that.
Just think positive and give it your best shot – nobody can ask for anything more than that.
So those were my revision tips for country dwellers. Let me know if you found any of them helpful or have any of your own to suggest!
The most mesmerising place I have ever visited, Iceland is utterly breathtaking and indescribable.
This blog post documents mine (and Ryan’s) trip to Iceland – a unique gift for his 21st birthday from his very generous parents!
Day 1 – Sunday
After an early start, we arrived at Manchester Airport excited and raring to go.
It was our first time flying with Icelandair – the staff were incredibly friendly offering free soft drinks on the flight, there was free wifi and entertainment and plenty of leg room for us tall folks. It was impressive to say the least!
It was a short flight being only 2h 10m. Interestingly, all of the Icelandair aircrafts are named after Icelandic sights of nature, making it a personal touch. For instance, our outbound aircraft was called Dyngjufoll after the volcanic highland in Northern Iceland.
Cool interactive map
After landing we did the typical tourist thing and headed straight to the Blue Lagoon to soak in the geothermal waters.
Listed as one of the 25 wonders of the world it certainly lived up to its high reputation!
After being confronted with stark naked ladies in the showers (an Icelandic tradition apparently) and the freezing atmosphere, we were more than eager to get into the water.
It was an oasis of relaxation with its free Silica Mud Masks, warm comforting waters and bar serving draft cider. Moreover, there was no time limit which allowed us to soak in the water for as long as our hearts desired.
After soaking for about an hour or so, we decided to make a move to our hotel. We caught the shuttle bus to Reykjavik and finally reached our hotel around 9pm.
We quickly checked in and headed downtown to find somewhere to eat.
We chose Hard Rock Cafe, which wasn’t exactly adventurous, but we were incredibly tired and craved BBQ ribs!
Unfortunately the waitress forgot to take our order (food & drink!) but the free wifi and the free apologetic sundae made up for it.
Once we had demolished our meal, we headed back to the hotel and slept like lions.
Day 2 – Monday
After trying out the hotel shower and sampling the continental breakfast (which was actually decent!) we waited outside our hotel, CenterKlopp, for the shuttle bus to collect us for the Golden Circle tour.
We got onto a larger coach and drove for roughly an hour outside of Reykjavik to our first destination – Geysir hot springs.
Situated at the northern edge of the southern lowlands, it is one of Iceland’s greatest natural attractions and believed to have been around since the end of the 13th century as a result of a series of strong earthquakes and devastating eruption of Mt. Heckla.
Though the Great Geysir is inactive nowadays its surrounding area is geothermically very active with many smaller hot springs.
The main attraction here was Strokkur (The Churn), another geyser which erupts at regular intervals every 10 minutes or so.
The boiling water can reach as high as 30 meters and I was incredibly lucky enough to catch the eruption on camera.
Next we clambered back onto the coach and drove for 10 minutes to the next stop – Gullfoss waterfall.
With cascades of 36 to 76 feet it is a spectacular view of the forces and beauty of untouched nature. But it is more than just a pretty waterfall: it has a story to tell.
In the early 20th century foreign investors wanted to harness the power of Gullfoss to produce electricity. Yet the farmer’s daughter, Sigriður Tómasdóttir, sought to have the rental contract voided. She even threatened to throw herself into the waterfall if the construction began.
Luckily for her, the contract fell through due to lack of rent payments – her struggles to preserve the waterfall illuminated the importance of preserving nature and she is often referred to as Iceland’s first environmentalist.
It is thanks to Sigriður that we can visit this breathtaking waterfall!
Our final stop was Þingvellir, the site of the first Viking parliament (assembled there in 930AD) as well as a designated UNESCO world heritage site for its unique geographical features.
Today Þingvellir is a protected national shrine, and the area shall always be the property of the Icelandic nation, under the preservation of the Alþing.
On our way back to Reykjavik, we stopped off to look at some Icelandic Horses.
Once we got back to the hotel we decided to go and explore the city centre and look for somewhere to eat.
We ended up eating at Lebowski Bar, situated on the Laugavegur shopping street. Designed by American architects in the spirit of The Big Lebowski (1998 comedy film) this bowling themed burger joint was incredibly fun and only 2 minutes from our hotel!
After scoffing our burgers, we headed back to the hotel for a well earned rest.
Day 3 – Tuesday
Despite another early start, we were incredibly excited for the Game of Thrones filming location tour!
Firstly, we stopped off at a horse riding centre, where we got to meet the famous Icelandic horses (note HORSES, not ponies!). As a horse riding fanatic and having grown up owning a horse, I was in my element, stroking every horse I could.
My favourite was Rick, but I also got to meet Thor, who featured on Game of Thrones.
We then moved on to the first filming location, Porufoss.
Despite looking nothing like the Mediterranean, they filmed the famous Myriad scene here – the one where Daenerys’ dragon sets fire to the goats and carries one off (S4 E6).
Next we went to Þingvellir (a different part!) where they filmed the opening shots to the Eyrie.
This is where they filmed Ayra Stark and The Hound walking towards the Eyrie to discover Lady Arryn was dead (S4E8)/ Sansa Stark and Little Finger walking there (S4E5).
The final stop was Thjorsárdalur valley where they filmed a whole village getting massacred by the Wildlings (S4 E3). The scene took 10 whole days to film only 2 minutes of screen time and the location was stunning!
Overall the tour was AMAZING. We had the coolest tour guide ever – he had been an extra on Game of Thrones and played a night-watchmen, wildling and white walker.
He knew all the inside gossip and made the tour incredible – for instance, he told us how Kit Harington broke his foot the night before filming his saucy cave scene with Ygritte, and how the actress was the loveliest girl ever, giving hugs to all the extras on the last day of filming!
After the tour, we went to Barber Bistro for a quick tea before heading off out on our Northern Lights tour.
Unfortunately, we did not get to see the Northern Lights as it was too cloudy! We got back to our hotel around 1:30am and boy were we exhausted.
Day 4 – Wednesday
As it was our final day, we decided to explore the city.
Reykjavik is not a huge capital city, but it is incredibly clean and friendly, with lots of quirks and charm.
We came across a remarkably friendly Icelandic cat who had no objections to cuddles from strangers and even followed us to the main shopping street.
As food was appallingly expensive, we chose to grab something cheap and quick for lunch. We stopped at Svarta Kaffid and was served the best soup I have ever sampled! Our only regret was that we had not discovered this gem of a bar earlier.
Fuelled and reheated, we then walked around the city some more before heading back to the hotel to pack ready for our departure tomorrow.
Around 6pm, we headed off out to find some tea.
Along the way, we stumbled across a vintage arcade shop and spent 30 minutes there trying out the retro games. My favourite was The Addams Family pinball machine!
We also found a dessert cafe, where we stopped to get ice-cream and crepes!
I sampled the ice-cream and had Apple Sorbet and Blueberry! It was super scrumptious and I could have easily eaten a lot more!
Next we searched for somewhere to eat some proper food.
We chose Caruso, a smart Italian restaurant downtown! Ryan had Spaghetti Bolognese whilst I had a King Prawn Risotto.
It was delicious!
Afterwards, we visited a local bar called Tivoli and sampled a few of Iceland’s most popular drinks, such as Mango Tango and Brennivin. The manager was super friendly and hospitable, making us feel right at home.
We had booked onto another Northern Lights tour, but this was unfortunately cancelled due to weather, meaning that we did not get to see the lights whilst we were there!
Day 5 – Thursday
HOMETIME! The day was spent travelling home to the UK and reminiscing about the amazing holiday we had just been on.
Iceland is simply incredible! It has a huge diversity of landscape which changes with every turn in the road as well as a huge diversity of people and cultures. If you get the chance to go, TAKE IT! It is a unique vacation and I cannot wait until I can afford to go back and do some more exploring.
I have *unfortunately* missed some of the chaotic rush that Lambing time brings due to being incredibly busy at University. But now that term time has finished for an entire month, I can finally shove on my wellies and get stuck in! (I never thought I would miss the farm and its hectic schedule!)
Today was an incredibly sunny day and Ziggy made the most of it, basking in the sun, whilst I clambered into my Landrover Defender and headed down to the farm.
To my delight my sheep, Augusta, had lambed overnight and had two healthy lambs without any complications! They are 3/4 Texel and 1/4 Beltex and will hopefully make a good set of lambs.
After checking the other sheep and making sure none were lambing, I helped my dad create a large pen for the numerous pet lambs that are occupying the shed.
First we made a pen for the lambs – it needed a lot of straw and space so that they could run around.
Next, we had to make a board with teets (which the lambs suck on to get milk) and wire it up correctly to the milk machine. This didn’t take too long as Dad knew what he was doing (as we have used these machines for quite a few years now!).
We then checked the teets were working by squeezing them to make sure the milk was coming out.
Then came the tricky part – catching the larger pet lambs and transferring them into the new pen! They certainly worked off their milk intake, as they were incredibly quick and difficult to catch.
It took me a while to transfer them all, as they ran rings around me, but once moved, it is safe to say they LOVED their new home.
Once this task was complete, I helped my mum load the kubota trailer up with sheep and lambs – we often turn twins out into the fields after a few days to free up pen space in the sheds.
As you can see, the lambs go into different compartments – this is to avoid them getting mixed up and going to the wrong sheep, making turning out an much easier process.
Whilst mum was turning the sheep out, I took the dogs for a quick walk as they hadn’t been out of the kennels for a bit.
Polly, despite being a farm dog, is wearing a lead because she is in a field with livestock! All dog owners must keep their dogs on a lead at all times when in field with livestock (abiding by the countryside code!)
It needs saying once again, due to the numerous amount of sheep worrying stories I have read about recently, that farmers are allowed to shoot dogs worrying livestock and NOT compensate owners! Keep this in mind when walking your pooches on farming land!
Before I set off home for tea, I stopped off to look at some of the smaller pet lambs and have a cuddle.
After tea, it was back to the farm – feeding pet lambs, filling hay nets and water buckets and lambing sheep. Whoever said farmers were lazy clearly haven’t visited a working family farm in Lambing time?!