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‘We moved to the farm with nothing but some money in the bank’

29-year-old Rachel Evetts, and her partner, Jake, are chasing their farming dream in Devon. 

The couple, who do not hail from agricultural backgrounds, took the plunge in recent years to farm in their own right, establishing a beef and sheep enterprise.

“Jake, or as I lovingly call, farmer, had always wanted to be a farmer ever since he asked for a cow for Christmas at the age of three,” Rachel explained to Catherina Cunnane, editor of That’s Farming.

“He spent years working on other farms for other people, building their dream, not ours. Although we are not from farming backgrounds, we had longed to farm for so long and wondered how we could achieve it.”

Making a dream a reality 

Everything changed one day when Jake, arrived home from an afternoon milking, with a copy of a well-known agricultural publication after stumbling across an opportunity to apply for a tenancy.

“That was it, Manor Farm was born. We committed the next couple months to working our wellies off to make this happen – lots of paperwork, late nights and endless brews later – we finally got that yes, the yes that meant we could call a farm our own for the next seven years.”

“We literally started with absolutely nothing – We moved to the farm with nothing but some money in the bank – no animals, equipment or machinery.”

“We’ve spent two-and-a-half-years building our farming dream completely from the ground up.”

Rachel, a mother-of-two now farms full-time, whilst running their holiday-let business and Jake works part-time offering farm relief services. 

“We hope for the day where he can be here full-time, and we hope that day won’t be too far from now.”

“We chose a beef and sheep enterprise as opposed to dairy as the farm we were taking on did not have the facilities for dairy. We didn’t have the funds it takes to set up a dairy enterprise from scratch.”

Suckler and sheep farming

They currently farm 60 cattle, including calves, with Angus, Limousin, Hereford, Simmental and Charolais breeding females and an Aberdeen-Angus bull dominating the 122-acre holding.

“Farmer still says going out to the market and buying our very first cattle was one of the best days ever.”

They initially began farming a herd of cattle, but later expanded into sheep, with Suffolk Mules, Texel Mules and North Country Mules being their breeds of choice.

They have recently purchased a Charollais ram for their younger ewes and a Suffolk ram for their mature-types.  

“We start lambing from April 1st, so as of March 31st, I make sure I’ve got a hefty supply of tea bags and vino in stock!” Rachel laughed.

“We have found that ever since taking the risk and going it alone, ultimately it’s all on us. Whether we fail or succeed, it is all on our shoulders, but nothing in life worth having comes easy.”

“Our wallets may be lighter, our sanity less intact and our time way more occupied, but we wouldn’t ever be doing anything else.”

“I like working outdoors, the open space, getting to call the field our office and spending every day with our animals.” 

Social media

The couple post all about their journey on Facebook (just under 19,000 followers) and Instagram (just under 2,000 followers). “We share funny stories, our epic fails, wins, challenges and have a proper good laugh as we do our very best to chase our farming dream and provide for our young family.”

“We use the hashtag #chasingcowsandchasingdreams, as we have probably spent more time chasing the cows off the village green than chasing our actual dream!” Rachel added.

Future

Looking ahead, the young couple has progressive farm expansion and improvement plans in the pipeline.

“For where we are right now, we would like to improve our infrastructure and grassland management practices, increase our cow and sheep numbers, invest in machinery and ultimately become more self-sufficient so we can continue to grow and expand our little family business.”

“Our outlook on sucker and sheep farming in the future would be to use less housing, therefore, less straw and less labour intensive. Out-wintering on winter crops, such as kale, will potentially be the future.”

“We have spent the last two-and-a-half-years of our lives building our family farming business from the ground up, starting off with absolutely nothing to our names, we have worked our wellies off to create animals, a business, and a home that we are super proud of.”

“We are currently working on a really exciting new business venture which will be an invaluable resource – especially for first-generation farmers, this is launching very soon, so watch our social media spaces,” Rachel concluded.

Social media

Follow Rachel and Jake on Facebook and Instagram.

To share your story, email – catherina@thatsfarming.com

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