Each week, we (a group of ten year 7 students) have been going to Rushall Farm in Bradfield, Reading, to help improve our confidence skills.
We undertake different activities on and around the farm which are fun, hard work and designed for us to come out of our comfort zone to try new things. On the farm, we have to feed the pigs, cows and sheep. As well as feeding the animals, we have to make their beds with straw. We have helped Steve set up fences and pens so they can weigh last year’s lambs, we’ve helped herd the sheep (Miss Ralston let two run past her the wrong way), solved puzzles to cross fields without touching the grass, learned about rivers and, right now, we are setting up a business where each of us has a different role and responsibility such as advertising and design.
The owners of the farm are Steve and his sister Elizabeth. To help us boost our confidence, Miss Ralston challenged us to interview one of the farmers and to write up a report. Please read below to find out the result…
We talked to Elizabeth and we asked her the following questions.
- What do you do around the farm?
I make sure the sheep are ok and help with the lambing, I pay all of the bills and plan the days of the week for the whole year.
- What jobs do you most enjoy why?
I like most outside jobs but enjoy lambing because you can see the lambs being born and watch them grow up. During the lambing season, which is from 1 February to the end of May, the days are tough and busy but it’s really nice to see the lambs grow.
- What did you want to be when you were at school? what school did you go to? I went to Theale Green and I wanted to be a fashion designer but I became a farmer instead as I found it more enjoyable.
- How long have you worked as a farmer?
I have been working as a farmer for 5 years, however I have been on farms since I was 3 because my family owned farms, both my dad and grandad farmed. My grandad had a dairy farm and my dad still works on farms and helps us out.
- Would you change your career/job?
I like my work and wouldn’t like to change my job but I would like to own a farm shop. My husband is a chef and could do the cooking and I would help the customers. We could grow the products and then market them.
- What are the main skills you need to do for your job? Are there any specifics you must know?
If you are working with animals you must be quiet so that you don’t scare them. Also, you must have resilience because it can be tricky sometimes.
- Do you grow crops on the farm? If so what crops do you have?
We do grow crops which are wheat, oats and barley. As well as growing the crops, part of our job is selling the crops that we grow. Last year we grew over 120 tonnes of crops.
- Do you prefer working with animals or crops?
I prefer to work with the animals because animals are livelier and more fun. When I work with crops, I have to go in a tractor all day and that can be quite boring.
- Do you get attached to any of the animals? If so what type of animals and why?
I mostly get attached to the sheep because they have their own personalities. Some of the sheep are naughty while others are funny. One of my favourite sheep is called Oreo because of the markings on her face.
- Do you enjoy being a farmer?
Yes, because it challenges you and it’s amazing to work with lots of different animals. I prefer to work outdoors rather than indoors.
- How do you feel about being a farmer as a woman? Does it feel strange when traditionally in the past farmers have been men?
No, it’s not strange for me as I’ve always been involved in farming. Some people don’t believe me when I say I am a farmer, some of the time people are shocked because I’m a female farmer, people are nice but, because I’m quite petite, this makes some people think I won’t be able to do some of the work.
- What advice would you give someone who wants to be at the farm?
I would recommend to bring wellies and not to be scared of animals. Also, you would have to try your hardest and not give up.
- Do you do any jobs with Steve? If so, what jobs and do you argue?
We do lots of jobs together, such as moving and looking after the sheep. Because the cows are so big and tough, it is definitely a job we do together. We do not argue, however we sometimes moan! When we were younger, we used to argue all the time.