‘I love my way of life’ 25-year-old farmer shares anecdotes

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Hanna spoke to Express.co.uk about how how she started farming at “days old” and has been doing it ever since. She can’t imagine enjoying any other livelihood – Hanna’s job varies from herding sheep to selling cattle at the market. The 25-year-old also owns her own accessories business, called Bŵts Bach Brown. Even though there are difficult moments, being a farmer is rewarding, and, for Hanna, something she is incredibly passionate about.

“All I’ve ever known is farming,” Hanna revealed. “I’ve grown up on our family farm in North Wales keeping sheep, cattle, horses, sheepdogs and a few ducks.

“I don’t know life without a farm and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Our main stock is sheep, Taid [granddad] keeps Texel or Texel crosses, and I keep Black Welsh Mountain crossed with Texel and a small flock of Balwen Welsh Mountain Sheep.

“Over the years between school, university and a couple of new jobs, I’ve always been at home, farming. My contract being a hunt groom for the local trail hunt recently ended and I have since began working at our local Wynnstay.”

Hanna recalled helping out at her family’s farm when she was very young. She explained: “Mum used to take me out with her more or less at days old. Taid also took me out to the lambing shed in my carrier and sat me down in a pen whilst the vet assisted him with a sheep.

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“No one could keep me indoors as a toddler, especially during lambing time – I was here, there and everywhere pulling tiny handfuls of silage and popping it over the hurdles for the sheep and their lambs.”

Hanna went on to describe her average day working at the Wynnstay base close to her home – Wynnstay is a company that manufactures and supplies agricultural products to farmers and the wider rural community in Wales, the Midlands, Lancashire and Yorkshire.

The shepherdess said: “Now that I work at Wynnstay full time, my usual day routine has changed slightly but still starts with my horses. I start the day to the whinney of Bluebell, my Connemara, followed by the excitement of my other two little ponies waiting their breakfast.

“My Balwen flock are next on the list. Whilst I feed them and check them, my sheepdog Ffan is out with me causing havoc as always, but she’s never far away from me. She is in fact my shadow 99 percent of the time.

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“I leave for work and have a full day of talking and selling feed and different items to farmers, equestrians and the general public. Work at Wynnstay finishes at 5pm, but work at home starts again with the horses and sheep – prepping them all for bed time.

“Lambing season changes the routine but that’s another story. Autumn/winter is also the busiest time of year for my small business, Bŵts Bach Brown, which translates from Welsh to English as Little Brown Boots because I’m always wearing my everyday brown farming boots. When I’m in for the night, I’m usually busy on the sewing machine getting stock ready for Christmas fairs and craft fairs.”

Farming is made up of various small – and big – jobs, but Hanna doesn’t have a favourite task. “I enjoy it all,” she said.

“I don’t see it as a chore if that makes sense – if I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t be in it. I’ve grown up in it and I wouldn’t change it at all. I love my way of life.

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“Rather than favourite job, my favourite time of year is lambing. The whole experience. If you already follow me on my Instagram, Shepherdess Jones, or Balwen flock Facebook page, Balwens Marli, then you’ll already know that I put my whole heart into every lamb that’s born on our farm, especially the lambs of my Balwens and the other pet sheep who have names.

“I name them all which becomes difficult if they need to be sold or they cross Rainbow Bridge [die], because I get attached to them all. I know the difference between all our sheep – not one looks the same. I know who had triplets the previous year, and I know whose lamb is whose by name.

“I could honestly write a book about my passion, including all the sheep and their names. So I think I better stop now before this turns into a novel.”

Hanna’s “least favourite thing hands down” about farming is “losing stock”. “Where there’s live stock, there’s dead stock,” she said.

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“I find losing any animal hard, even more so when it’s one I’ve bred myself and had the joy of experiencing its full life, like a horse, sheepdog, or a ram or sheep.”

Another part of farming Hanna very much enjoys is the social life – farmers enjoy gathering together for food and drink, and they also compete against one another at animal shows.

“There’s a farm every three fields up by ours more or less,” Hanna explained. “We know our neighbours would, and do, lend a helping hand to numerous Young Farmers Clubs, one of which I have previously been a member of for a fair few years.”

The 25-year-old went on to speak about her experiences of animal shows, saying: “The Balwens are my show flock. They bring me a lot of joy – from the excitement of seeing the different markings and proudly receiving a rossette for the stock I’ve produced, to selling the stock I couldn’t keep and having customers return. All of this a big achievement in my eyes and I enjoy every part of it.”

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