First Time Farmers TX: 8 Feb 2013, Week 6
First Time Farmers is a brand new five-part observational documentary series looking at all aspects of farming life through the eyes of the younger generation. Set in the picturesque English countryside, these fresh faced individuals are certainly not your average looking traditional farmers - they are the hard-working modern breed of the farming generation breathing new life into the agricultural world.
Filmed over a six-month period, this observational series will lift the lid on the dilemmas, pressures and daily grind of young farmers living in the Cotswold's, Herefordshire and the West Country. A career in agriculture doesn't mean it's all work without play, these young farmers will share how they balance life living on the farm and if there is any room left for love, laughter and partying with mates. Their family and friends reveal what they make of their preferred lifestyle, and the young farmers are given advice by the more experienced older generation of farmers.
Created by the same team behind Made in Chelsea, each episode will meet three new young farmers including apprentices, shepherds and slaughter men. Aged from sixteen to early twenties, the youngsters reveal why they have chosen to work in the most ancient and grueling of trades. Some of the young farmers have had their careers mapped out since birth, inheriting farms built by generations of their family before them; whilst others are a building a career from scratch with no farming background at all. One young farmer even quit his city job for a calmer pace of life in the countryside. Whatever the reason, all the young farmers have one thing in common - they must face the daily challenges that could severely impact their livelihood. Every day they worry about whether enough rain will fall, if their lambs will survive birth or if a disease could wipe out their livestock?
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Episode 5/5, Friday 8th February, 8pm, Channel 4
The final episode meets 25 year old Henry who has returned to work on the family arable farm with his dad after studying away at college. Henry is in line to be the fifth generation to take over. He and his dad are a close team, but whereas the farm always comes first for Henry's dad, Henry strives for a work-play balance; putting raves and parties higher on the priority list than his dad would like. Hayley from Dorset is an 18-year-old pedigree pig farmer and has won numerous awards for her champion pigs. She has been looking after pigs since she was a toddler, and like the rest of her family, she is passionate about them and has pig breeding in her blood; she even competes against her dad for the coveted Pig of the Year championship. Finally Rob, 24 from Wiltshire is a self-employed shepherd. He is determined to make a career out of sheep farming despite coming from a non-farming family. His goal is to make enough money from this season's sheep shearing to buy his own flock of sheep.
Episode 4/5, Friday 1st February, 8pm, Channel 4
The penultimate episode focuses on young people who don't come from farming backgrounds and are nevertheless determined to get into the business. Bunny is a petite young feminine girl who doesn't look like a typical farmer. She knows how to drive a tractor, cart corn, deliver lambs and judge stock. Bunny was voted ‘Most likely to be a farmer's wife' at school but her dream is to become a farmer in her own right and own her own farm one day. Henry from the Cotswolds is a full-time shepherd who oversees a flock of 500 ewes with the help of his two sheep dogs and his very own shepherd's crook. We follow him as he guides his lambs from the birthing shed to the supermarket. Finally Will, aged 21, from Dorset, works on a dairy farm in Somerset. He got into farming because he's a committed tractor head - his first word was tractor - but after his boss injures himself he must learn how to take care of the cows during the busy calving season.
Episode 3/5, Friday 25th January, 8pm, Channel 4
This week we meet sons of farmers. At 25, Ally from Herefordshire has taken over the sole running of his own farm - an opportunity most farmers' sons don't get until middle-age, if at all. He's now responsible for 500 acres of arable land, which his family has rented from The Duchy for 45 years. He has swapped houses with his parents who have retired and is now living on his own in the six-bedroom, 400 year old farmhouse he grew up in and sleeping in his parents' old master bedroom. The question of inheritance is less straight forward for James Hole from Somerset - a 9th generation dairy farmer who is preparing for his wedding to the local vet. The family farm is owned by James's grandfather, his uncle and James' dad Steve but Steve has two other sons aside from James, who also have designs on the farm. Alex from Cheshire faces his biggest challenge yet when his father goes on holiday, leaving him to run the family farm and carry out a thirty thousand pound cattle deal at the market, unsupervised for the first time.
Episode 2/5, Friday 18th January, 8pm, Channel 4
The second episode meets young farmer Flossy from Somerset who runs her family farm while still at school. Aged 17, Flossy is still very much a novice when it comes to farming solo but she has full responsibility for going to market to buy cattle, medicating the animals and even rearing the sheep. Every day involves juggling farm work with school work, and this year Flossy has her exams so the pressure is on. George from the Cotswolds works all hours juggling his flock of sheep, running his own firewood and fencing business as well as making time for his important social life. He needs to prove to his mum that he can handle lambing season on his own and do it well as he's in line to take over the farm . Finally, 18-year old Lewis embarks on a work placement which sees him leave home for the first time. Lewis comes from a farming background, his dad is an organic dairy farmer, but he's keen to learn how other people farm to one day realise his dream of having a farm of his own.
Episode 1/5, Friday 11 January, 8pm, Channel 4
The first episode meets Robbie, Ed and Nick, three young farmers friends from Herefordshire, who are about to take on the biggest summer of their lives. Robbie is trying to make a successful business from his mum's struggling pig farm, Ed returns to the family farm after quitting his top city job and finally Nick, a third-generation farmer is trying to escape the family business.
Robbie is 23 from Herefordshire and helps his mum run their family farm. He lives with his parents and two brothers.
Type of farming: mixed (pigs, cattle, sheep and wheat)
Robbie grew up on the family farm and now helps to run it alongside his mum. It's a small farm so he and his mum have a ‘quality over quantity' business strategy. Already having tried and tested organic pork, they have now opted for a rare-breed pig in the hope of securing the ‘niche market'. Unfortunately the pigs still aren't making any money leaving Robbie in dilemma; he needs to decide whether to sell the pigs and get experience on another farm or try come up with another money-making scheme that will finally get the farm making a profit.
Henry is 25 from Chipping Norton and helps run the family farm with his dad. He lives with his friend Pete.
Type of farming: arable
After studying at the RAC for 4 years, Henry is now working long hours on the family arable farm with his dad Peter. The farm has been in the family for generations and Henry stands to be the fifth generation to take over. Henry and his dad are a close team and inject plenty of play into their work, whether it's banter in the ‘Man Cave' (their on-site workshop), shooting or safari off-roading. However for Henry's dad, the farm always comes first, whilst Henry tries hard to keep a healthy work-play balance, he often puts raves and parties higher on the priority list than his dad would like. During the busy harvest season his mum Sue works full-time to keep them watered, fed, and happy - a vital role on any arable farm, especially when times get tough.
Ed is 26 from Herefordshire and works on the family farm. He lives with his parents.
Type of farming: mixed (arable, sheep and cattle)
Ed went to the RAC and after graduating, he decided to take a job in the city rather than join his dad's arable farm. While in London he got offered a job working on a dairy farm in New Zealand and on an impulse, quit his city job and bought a plane ticket. Unfortunately he injured his knee and needed surgery and as a result, couldn't make the flight and returned to working on his dad's farm. Ed was at a real crossroads in his life and needed to decide whether to take his old job back and return to city life, or choose to stay on the farm that he hopes to continue as the 4th generation of his family.
Flossy is 17 from Somerset and run her family farm whilst still studying at school. She lives with her mum, two brothers and sister.
Type of farming: sheep and cattle
Flossy is the youngest of four, and keeps the family farm going. She has stepped up to the responsibility of the farm after their dad left and the farm's ‘holding number' is now under her name. She is responsible for going to market to buy cattle, medicating the animals, lambs and even rearing the sheep. However, Flossy is still very much a novice when it comes to farming solo but she's always learning from her mistakes. Every day involves juggling farm work with school work, and this year Flossy's had her GCSEs, so the pressure is on. Studying will coincided with the busy lambing season which meant Flossy had long days and early starts to juggle on top of taking her exams.
Nick is 23 from Worcester is a trainee auctioneer at a cattle market and works on the family farm. He lives on his own.
Type of farming: trainee auctioneer
Nick stands to be the 3rd generation to inherit his father's mixed arable, sheep and beef tenant farm but at the moment, he's not sure he wants to be a farmer at all. He dislikes sheep and tractors and loathes being on his own for long, cold, lonely hours. Having given farming a go, Nick concedes that he's just ‘not cut out for it' and farming isn't for him. Before working on his dad's farm, Nick had a great job as a trainee auctioneer at a cattle market selling the smaller animals such as calves and sheep. Both the seclusion of farming life and working so closely with his dad is a struggle for Nick, and he's decided that he would rather get out.
Lewis is 18 from Dorset and in his third year studying Agriculture at college. He lives with his mum and dad.
Type of farming: dairy
Lewis comes from a farming background where his father is an organic dairy farmer who rents a council farm in Dorset and his mother is a school secretary. He is a third year Agriculture student and recently completed a 10-month work placement at Whalley Farm. Lewis worked closely with Rob the herdsman and learned all aspects of dairy farming under his expert supervision. He is now back working on the family farm.
James is 25 from Somerset is a 9th generation dairy farmer and works on the family farm. He lives with his wife.
Type of farming: dairy
James recently got married to a local vet called Alice and they now live together near the family farm. James has two younger brothers Josh (20) and Bernard (22). Josh has been at university studying business and Ben is a trained electrician but has recently left to work back at the farm with James full time. James is the 9th generation to take on the family farm and is outspoken, funny and passionate about the farming industry. The farm is owned and run by Gramps who is 85, James' dad Steve and his Uncle Ben but James is next in line to take it on. The inheritance however is rather unclear as Steve has three sons from his first marriage and also a son and a daughter from his second marriage. In total, the family own 400 acres of land as well as renting 200 acres from their friends who have retired. They have 200 milking cows and since the price of milk has been cut and price of feed is going up, it has become difficult to make an income.
George is 24 from Cheltenham and works on the family farm as well as on running his own business. He lives with a friend.
Type of farming: sheep and arable
George has recently been handed over the family farm after his parents split up. He is working all hours juggling his flock of sheep, running his own firewood and fencing business and keeping on top of his important social life. He is keen to prove to his mum that he can handle lambing season on his own and do it well. He's conscientious but a big worrier and wears the weight of the world on his shoulders. George's mum runs the farm's books and steps in to help George when things start to go wrong but he is keen to take on the whole responsibility of the farm himself. George is heavily dyslexic and struggles with reading and writing. He hated school and farming is the one thing he feels he can do well. George grew up on the family farm and never wants to leave it.
Hayley is 19 from Dorset and works on the family farm whilst studying through RAC. She lives with her mum and her mum's partner.
Type of farming: pigs
Hayley is an 18-year-old pedigree pig farmer and has won numerous awards for her champion pigs. She has also been successful in many Young Handler competitions. She has been showing and breeding pigs since she was a toddler, and like the rest of her family, she is passionate about them and has pig breeding in her blood. Hayley's grandfather (died 30 years ago) started the farm in Dorset and now all of his children are involved - even his 3-year-old great grandson shows pigs around the ring. Hayley's dad, Steve is a renowned pedigree pig expert who has won hundreds of shows all over the country, including the prestigious ‘Pig of the Year' award - twice. However, times are tough and the high cost of feed has forced many neighbouring farms to go out of the pig business - and Hayley's dad fears they will be next. As the farm doesn't earn enough to support Hayley or her dad, they've both taken on additional jobs. Steve drives a livestock lorry as well as working for the local abattoir buying livestock at markets, and Hayley works all hours both in a pub and on the farm. However her passion is pigs - the shows are her ‘me time' and there's pressure to follow in her father's footsteps and uphold her family's reputation.
Alastair is 25 from Herefordshire and works on the family farm. He lives on his own.
Type of farming: mixed (arable and sheep)
Alastair recently took over full responsibility of his family's 500 acre arable farm, which his family have rented from The Duchy for 45 years. Having spent his whole life on the farm, Alastair's dream of one day taking it over from his dad has suddenly become a reality and he is still reeling from the shock. He has swapped houses with his parents and now living on his own in the six-bedroom, 400-year-old farmhouse that he grew up in and sleeping in his parents' old master bedroom. At 25, Alastair is now running his own farm - an opportunity that most farmers' sons don't get until middle-age, if at all. However this means that he now has full responsibility over the failure or success of the farm that his dad has spent most his life building up from scratch, and his first year will be make or break.
Alex is 18 from Cheshire works on the family farm. He lives with his mum, dad and sister.
Type of farming: beef cattle
As the youngest ever cattle grader in the country, Alex has an impressive reputation within the farming industry. After qualifying at the tender age of 16 he started at AJ Green & Sons Abattoir and has worked there ever since as well as helping his dad to run the family beef cattle farm. All this responsibility and hard work doesn't stop him having fun and between bidding against farmers twice his age at cattle markets and long weekdays on the farm, Alex somehow finds time for plenty of drinking, clubbing, festivals and holidays in Magaluf. However, Alex is faced with the biggest challenge of his farming career when his father goes on holiday, leaving him to single-handedly run the farm and do his job of buying cattle in the market. This is the first time Alex has ever been left unsupervised and is his opportunity to prove to his father that he is capable of one day taking over the family farm; his only problem is that partying is an easy distraction.
Bunny is 19 from Bedfordshire is a first year RAC student and works on local farms during holidays. She lives in a university house with friends.
Type of farming: sheep
As a petite, feminine teenage girl, Bunny may not look like a typical farmer but there's much more to her than meets the eye. She knows how to drive a tractor, cart corn, deliver lambs and judge stock. Her dream is to one day own and run her own farm; her grandfather once owned a sheep farm in Australia, whose footsteps Bunny has chosen to follow in. Her quirky passion meant she was voted ‘Most Likely to be a Farmer's Wife' at school but now she's studying at the Royal Agricultural College and determined to be a farmer - not a farmer's wife - when she graduates. She is aware that farming is still very much a man's world and it's difficult for a young girl to be taken seriously but is determined to get as much farming experience and knowledge as she can to make her dream a reality.
Henry is 27 from Cotswolds is a shepherd. He lives with his girlfriend.
Type of farming: sheep
Henry is a young, passionate, full-time shepherd who oversees a flock of 800 ewes with the help of his sheep dog Kit and his very own shepherd's crook. Having been an ‘Undershepherd' at his previous job, Henry has recently been promoted to Head Shepherd on a farm near Tewkesbury. It comes with an incredible three bedroom 17th Century farmhouse, which he's moving into with his girlfriend who is a former RAC student. It will mean a lot more responsibility, decision-making and pressure during lambing season, however it's a really big step and he couldn't be happier.
Rob is 24 from Wiltshire is a shearer and self-employed shepherd. He lives on his own.
Type of farming: sheep
Rob is determined to make a career out of sheep farming, but being from a non-farming family, he hasn't had it handed to him on a plate. His dad is a builder and his mum is a teaching assistant, and although they are proud of Rob and his sheep farming ambitions, they know how difficult it can be. Having bought a new truck and trailer, he is now in £7,000 debt and will have to find land to rent and buy his first flock of sheep if he wants to take his first step onto the sheep farming ladder. The pressure is now on to clear his debts, and for him to earn enough money to buy his first flock of 30 sheep. This will involve working 16-hour days in the cold and rain through lambing season, followed by the back-breaking task of shearing 20,000 sheep in the summer.
Will is 21 from Dorset is a tractor driver and works in agricultural construction. He lives with his mum, step-dad and younger brother.
Type of farming: dairy
Will works for a local dairy farmer and believes he was born to do this job after his very first word was ‘tractor.' All his mates are farm hands and his grandfather used to have a small beef farm. When Will was 12 he worked at a local large farm called Montgomeries, harvesting potatoes in his spare time outside of school. When Will left school he went to work full time at Montgomeries and learnt a lot about the managing a potato farm. Will loves bantering with all his mates but at the same time wouldn't hesitate to help any of them out if they ever needed him.
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