That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, in conversation with first generation farmer, Lindsay Walker, in this week’s women in ag segment. She discusses how her passion for agriculture developed and working on a dairy, beef and sheep enterprise for the past 27 years.
“I am 42-year-old Lindsay Walker from Whitehaven. I do not come from a family farm. The farm I work at also has a caravan park where we had a family caravan, so I was also around the farm helping from a very early age.
My earliest memories revolve around feeding pet lambs and helping to milk cows.
My bosses are Denis and Joseph Hetherington (father and son), who owns Blue Dial Farm / Blue Dial
There are 6 of us on the farm: Denis, Joseph, his two sons, Joseph, and Jack, another worker, Michael and I.
We have a dairy, beef and sheep farming operation. In total, we have 420 cattle, 150 fattening lambs and 170 ewes on the farm.
Our dairy cows are Holstein, and then we have Belgian Blue and Holstein beef cattle.
Our sheep are a mixture of breeds: firstly, we have 150 mule lambs that we fatten over winter. Then, we lamb 120 ewes, a mix of mules, Texels and Suffolks, along with an additional 50 Herdwicks.
We have a 180-cow milking herd with 3 Lely milking robots for our cows.
We have had these in for six years now. We are usually milking about 155/160 cows all-year-round and calve all-year-round.
We AI our milking cows with sexed semen for the first two serves, then beef after that.
Also, we have a monthly fertility system with the vet to PD our cows and to ensure that freshly-calved females are in good health.
Our heifers run with a stock bull (Holstein). We are on a calf tracker system with the vet for our calves.
We weigh calves at birth and then at various stages through to weaning to monitor their growth rates.
Also, we blood sample to make sure they received adequate quantities of good quality colostrum.
Everything goes onto a shared spreadsheet so we both can monitor all data.
We lamb our main flock of ewes in February/March, then our Herdwicks lamb in April. We also have a 170 static caravan park too.
We all work on the farm and caravan park. Furthermore, we have a farm shop too that we pasteurise and sell our milk in.
I really enjoy working with calves; it is my job to feed and rear them.
I get to do this in the mornings with my boss, who is nearly 88. So, from where he started feeding calves to now is a great insight.
Losing animals is what I find challenging. I try everything to the best of my ability, but sometimes that is farm life. I want to save everything.
I am most passionate about animals; they are my pride and joy. I love being hands-on and caring for them. Overall, I have a huge passion for calves.
The feeding, bedding, and all-around general maintenance are all so rewarding.
This is a full-time position with main responsibilities being managing calves and sheep. I do also do a lot of work around cows.
Our farm is quite diverse because we strive to do a bit of everything and are always looking to improve in any way we can.
Milk prices are a constant worry, and feed and fertiliser prices are constantly on the rise in a higher way.
Women in ag
As a woman in the agricultural industry, I am treated the same as my male counterparts.
Now, I believe that women in agriculture at getting the recognition they deserve at farm and industry level.
I think it is important that women, who are involved in the sector, showcase this on social media to encourage the younger generation to do anything that they want to.
Farming is a rewarding job that is not just for men.
In the past, I think it was considered a man’s job. I was the only lady on my college course, but I have never been made to feel I have not been good enough.
I am just as capable of doing tasks that are considered jobs for men and that we can do them to the same standard. Future and additional questions
It is important to keep changing with the times. The change in things since I started range from redesigning the calf shed to sloping floors with drains and a milk machine to warm the water and mix the milk powder resulting in consistency for feeding.
Small but big changes are often the ones that can make a difference.
Farming must be something you want and love to do. It involves hard work with long hours, and if your heart is not in it, you will grow not to like it. But if you love it, it is the best job ever.
I want to show people that gender does not matter. We can hold our own, and we are tougher than we look.
I have been at the farm now for 27 years this year. That is just since I left college. I grew up as a kid on the caravan park and spent all my weekends and holidays helping feed calves and milk cows.
I have known the family for 38 years now and grew up with my boss, Joseph. Although I might not be family, they make me feel like I am a part of it.
I can see being here until I cannot do it anymore, and I would not want to be anywhere else. They always have and always will continue to support me,” the first-generation farmer concluded.
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