What the older generation of farmers can teach us

By Hannah Binns
4th November 2019

It is no secret that my grandad is my role model and inspiration – at 90 years old, he continues to farm every single day and shows no signs of retirement any time soon!

As the average age of a UK farmer is 59, here’s what these old timers can teach us about farming…

Perseverance = Success

From World War II fighter planes flying over meadows to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth, the older generation have continued to produce delicious British food whilst adjusting to adverse, extreme circumstances.

But they have also persevered and adapted to ever changing consumer fads and market demands, with shifts from native to continental breeds, to the fluctuating lamb trade.

Throughout all these changes, whether ordinary or extreme, these farmers have recognised the need to adapt in order to succeed and, in my eyes, should be the dictionary definition for the word perseverance!

Tradition triumphs

Tried and tested over many generations, traditional methods for completing farm tasks are fool proof.

Don’t get me wrong, it is fantastic that agriculture is such an innovative and progressive industry, with exciting new technology and machinery being developed, especially in the arable sector.

But since they’ve yet to come up with a machine to rebuild dry stone walls or a robotic sheepdog to gather the fells instead of man’s best friend, it seems old traditional methods remain at the heart of 21st century farming!

Time to get learning those skills…

‘Maybe I should buy a new tractor…’ (Grandad, 2018)

You are never too old to try something different or learn something new, no matter how long you have been farming for.

Whether you want to diversify the business and set up an ice-cream parlour, or give rearing calves a go, life is too short for regrets. After all, nothing ventured nothing gained and if it fails, it’s one to tell the grandkids!

Repair not replace

I hate to admit it but my generation has a throw away attitude, since it is often cheaper and quicker to replace something rather than faff around fixing it.

Yet the older generation are a crafty bunch when it comes to problem solving; from adding an additional step on the tractor to make getting in easier, to the classic of using bale twine to tie a gate shut until they can fix a new lock, they’ve got it down to a fine art.

Here’s hoping we can also harness our own creativity and tackle problems with an open mind, rather than resorting to an online eBay shop to find the solution.

A love of the land

As long term guardians of the great British countryside, the older generation have helped shape the land and environment through conservation, preservation and moderate use of resources for numerous years.

So it is their love of the land, their understanding and appreciation of the ground beneath their wellies, that shines through their work and livelihoods, as they ensure the land is left in a better condition for the next generation of UK farmers.