Farming in Britain: Life as a British Farmer – Hannah Druce

My name is Hannah. I am 26 and I live on a dairy farm near Broadwoodwidger in Devon. I moved to Devon in 2018 to be with my now-fiancee. Before then, I was a swimming …

My name is Hannah. I am 26 and I live on a dairy farm near Broadwoodwidger in Devon.

I moved to Devon in 2018 to be with my now-fiancee. Before then, I was a swimming teacher in Hampshire with no farming background or knowledge!

I don’t think I woke up one day and just decided to become a farmer; it happened very organically. I fell in love with a farmer, and the closer we got, the more I fell in love with him and the lifestyle we had. The farm is now part of who I am and who we are as a couple.

The farm is a 4th generation dairy farm; it has and will always be dairy. In recent years, it has diversified into rearing store cattle as well.

The key qualities needed for this job include patience, resilience, dedication, a good work ethic, and a love for the outdoors, whatever the weather!

I didn’t go to an agricultural college. Everything I know now, I’ve either found out the hard way or learned from my fiancé and his family.

We have two farm dogs called Charlie and Vic who help us with the animals. Charlie is great at working bullocks, and Vic is great with the cows. We also have Nellie, who is more of a pet than a farm dog but loves the tractor and will happily look out the window while we’re doing tractor work. Nellie is fully trained, and the farm dogs learn from each other and any previous dogs we’ve had.

We don’t yet have children, although Nellie is our baby! I do run the home and two small businesses as well. I own an upholstery business and a soft furnishings business. It can be difficult to juggle everything, but our home and my workshop are both on the farm, so we are never far away from each other if we need help.

A typical day would start early! My fiancé gets up around 3.30am, and I get up around 3.45am. We milk, do yard work, and do any jobs until 7.30 a.m. Then we clean the sheds and feed the animals before having breakfast around 9 a.m. It’s much easier this time of year and in the summer, though, as a lot of the animals are out in the fields. We milk again at 4 p.m. and finish the day whenever the work is done; some days it’s 6.30 p.m., some days it’s 12 a.m.; it just depends on what needs to be done!

We try to make time to get off the farm and have some time away. We occasionally go away for a weekend or, very rarely, a holiday! We are currently planning our honeymoon, which will be the longest we’ve been away from the farm!

Being a farmer is great because every day is different. Every year is different. You get to work with the seasons. It is very rewarding. You get to work with animals. We live in a beautiful part of the country.

Challenges include early mornings and late nights. Dealing with death. Things going wrong or breaking down. The weather affects everything! There is a lot of responsibility.

We are a very close family, and we always muck in and help one another. We make sure we support each other.

I would say if you’re thinking about becoming a farmer, do it! Go to an agri-college, go on a tractor course, find an apprenticeship, and work in all sectors of farming so you can work out what is best for you. You don’t have to come from a farming background, and you don’t have to know anything to start!