Retirement for a farmer is a pretty big decision. Farming isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life – often from birth, and that’s certainly been the case for my husband.
Born in the house where we live he was cleaning out the cowshed and feeding calves from the age of 10 and never wanted to do anything other than farm. When his chance came to go into partnership on the family holding he rushed back to England from New Zealand where he’d been travelling and working on Kiwi farms, to work alongside his father.
Sadly they were in partnership for only a few years before his father’s untimely death after which time my husband took on the sole responsibility for the business .
Now, many decades later, and after several years of thinking and talking about the subject, he has taken the decision to retire in the autumn.
As you will imagine, this was not an easy conclusion to reach – he has resisted the thought for a very long time - but farming is a very physical job and although he is much much fitter than most men his age, time takes its toll on the body and jobs that were easily done even just a few years ago are now so much more challenging.
Retirement can’t just happen overnight for a farmer, it requires a lot of planning, there are livestock and crops to consider. And although we, as a family, have been talking about this for some considerable time, it is only now that things are starting to happen that the reality of it all is coming home to hit all of us, as we have begun to tell relatives, friends, neighbours and colleagues.
We have run a small farm shop for many years and have had to tell our loyal customers that we are closing. The shop has been a major source of pride to my husband – he even won an award a few years ago, thanks to votes from our wonderful customers - and the kind and generous messages we have received from them after revealing his plans have been heart-warming.
The next big thing to face is the sale of our suckler herd, a day none of us are looking forward to, as the cows and calves will leave the farm in convoys of trucks to be sold at market.
And a bloodline that was started even before the children were born will be lost to us.