IT'S THE WEEKEND: The Great Outdoors - Making a living from the land
8:27am Sunday 23rd February 2014 in News
Gary Yeoman is a goat farmer at Pant Farm near Abergavenny. Gary has 600 goats that are milked twice daily. Pictured is a sign for Pant Farm. (4140413)
THEY spend their lives in the Great Outdoors - and for many farmers, working the land is in the blood. CARYS THOMAS reports.
THREE generations of the Beavan family run two farms, Great Tre-Rhew, and Skirrid Farm in Llanvetherine, Abergavenny.
Kate Beavan, 45, who married into the farming trade when she met husband Jim Beavan, now runs Kate's Country School, for learning traditional farming skills. Great Tre-Rhew was the first farm to feature on BBC's Lambing Live in 2010 and is now in the midst of another lambing season.
Mrs Beavan said: "My husband and I have been working shifts with the lambs. We have an early shift and then a late shift which finishes at 2.30am.
"This will go on until the lambing season is finished in April. We have 950 ewes and we expect at least two lambs each -we've had about 200 lambs so far in February."
The Beavans sort through the newborns and mark the lambs with the same as their mother.
The farm is a traditional farm home to pigs and cattle. The family also have a Beavan Butcher's shop in Abergavenny.
She said: "Farming has changed over the years. We are a traditional farm but there has to be a mix of that and modern techniques.
"Our son Sam whose 15-years-old is quite keen on farming and so is my nephew. They will be the fourth generation, it's a family partnership. My husband's brother runs Skirrid Farm."
The Pant Farm, also in Llanvetherine, is home to 850 goats who are kidding at the moment.
Gary Yeomans, 42, a farmer, said: "It is extremely busy, we have to milk all year round. It takes about two and a half hours to milk all of the goats.
"They are housed all year indoors in a big shed. The milk goes to Abergavenny Fine Foods to make cheese."
Mr Yeoman is a third generation farmer and now runs his grandfather's farm.
He said: "My father was a farmer and I started on my own in 2000. We rent my father's farm out as it wasn't economically viable to continue with it."
The farm also has Pedigree Welsh Black cattle.
He said: "The advantages of being a farmer is that I can have breakfast with the children before they go to school instead of spending hours in the car getting to work.
"I have two children - a boy Tom, eight, and a girl Megan , six. Tom loves the tractor and all the machinery and Meg helps with the animals."
Going to market is an integral part of a farmer's life, whether it be buying or selling livestock.
Nigel Bowyer, 56, of Ty Coch, Llanbadoc, Usk, said: "You see a lot of people you know at the market. It's the most social event in the county."
The 200-acre farm contains cows and sheep.
Mr Bowyer said: "I have always wanted to be a farmer. My father bought the land but he was a nurseryman.
"I usually get up at around 6.30am to 7am and usually work 12 hour days, seven days a week. When the weather is as bad as it has been lately it makes life very unpleasant.
"The sheep don't like it. It's hard to do maintenance jobs. But when it is nice and the sun is out it beats everything."
Mr Bowyer attended college in Aberystwyth on an agricultural course in which he had to complete a work placement at a local farm in Herefordshire.
He said: "Farming has become more technical. With the use of more machinery it is not as physical as it used to be.
"I have three children over the age of 20. My one son is interested in farming and my daughter and my other son are in college."
Old Llanishen Farm, Llangovan, in Monmouthshire, is a dairy farm with around 160 animals.
The 150-acre site is an amalgamation of two farms and is run by first generation farmer David Handley.
Mr Handley, 62, said: " I choose the farming career. When I was in my late 20s I moved to Wales from Cornwall and started a farm share with Sir Harry Llewellyn, a famous Monmouth show jumper. I then got this place which was owned by Monmouthshire County Council.
"I was educated so I could have gone on to do something else. It was in the blood, I knew I wanted to do it. It's a good life with no money.
"It's a way of life. It is a very intense business but it is also a very rewarding. Even when the weather is bad you can look across Wales."
Mr Handley explains that farmers need to be multitasking individuals who can be up at 6am, to milk the cows.
He said: "Farmers also have to have an understanding family as it is very long hours."
The cows are milked twice a day, once in the morning and once around 4pm.
He said: "We have automated machines, but you still have to herd the cows in and put the units on the teats. You have to clean them before you start milking and disinfect them afterwards to make sure that no bugs can get in there."
He says it can takes on average five minutes to milk a cow. The milk which the farm produces is collected by a milk processor every other day and taken away to become pints in the supermarket.
Mr Hadley and his wife Marilyn run the farm.
He said: "With this life, everyday is different. My wife Marilyn, was a farmer's daughter and then was a bank employee. I couldn't do it without her help, farming is a team effort."