Emma Watkin lives on a 100 acre farm with her husband in Suffolk. She met her husband Tobias through a dating website as neither of them were into going out clubbing.
While Emma did not grow up on a farm herself, both of her grandparents are from a farming family so they were very pleased when Emma told them I was going to be moving to a farm.
“My grandad loves coming to visit and seeing all the old machinery that we use,” she said. “My Husband is the fourth generation on the farm and is in partnership with his father.
Old pasture makes up 25 acres of the farm and 75 acres are arable with the odd grass lay added in.
They specialise in growing old varieties of wheat for long straw thatch. They also grow winter and spring beans, spring oats and spring barley.
They have around ten Suffolk Red Poll cows, some of which are in calf. They cut hay for winter feed for the cattle.
Like me, Emma has a few goats which she milks and rears for meat, some pigs and some chickens.
During the summer months the couple hire out one of our meadows to various different events, a juggling convention, world music drumming camp, dance camp, Quaker camp and Buddhist camp. Sometime they also have to occasional wedding and party.
Emma says the farm is in an idyllic spot in the Waveney Valley in North Suffolk, about half an hour drive from the coast.
“We go to the coast a lot in the winter months for walks as we are too busy during the summer to join everyone else. We live in a very small village which can be difficult to find especially for delivery drivers.”
Emma says she quite often double books myself so she has four different calendars and diaries on the go at any one time.
“I have my diary, a calendar, a farming wall calendar and my phone for when I forget everything.
“About once a month (I like to think but more like when I remember) I get all four out on the big farm kitchen table and organise myself.
“I think living on a farm you have to be prepared for the unexpected and go with the flow. I think my family have got used to the fact that we run late now-more often because of a farming reason.
“I also have many notebooks around the house with various different to do lists on. I would be lost without these. Since farming I have learnt to say ‘no’ more which I believe is a good thing.”
Emma loves loading sheaves of wheat for thatching straw.
“This is not the simplest job in the world and you can be very high up so I quickly got over my fear of climbing up and down ladders. You have no choice when you are on top of a load.”
She says she loves how there is something new to learn on a farm.
A lot of their friends helped out over the harvest and Emma says it is very hard work, lots of pitching and manual labour involved, not much tractor work at all.
“We farm in the old ways due to the way the thatching straw has to be harvested and dealt with and my biggest worry is that this technique will be lost and not kept up with due to the rapid movement of technology.
“I see it now as our role to educate people correctly about what we do and why. My husband is a part of the National Thatching Straw Growers Association often attending meetings. This association promotes the use of wheat straw for thatching, in traditional and modern buildings for example the Enterprise Centre at the UEA in Norwich,” she said.
Emma hopes for more goats in the future (don’t we all). Although she says their main aim is to set up a glamping site.
“It is something that has been at the back of our minds for a few years but over the past year we have started to plan.
“Our other hope is that I will become more involved with the farm and not have to work off the farm too.”
Emma says not all farms are big businesses. There are still small farms with small fields and small equipment.
“Our largest tractor is less than 100 horse power and our combine has a 10 foot header and with smear fields, she says this is all they need.
Emma loves being outdoors and the community feel of farming.
“At auctions everyone knows everyone and we all chat, the same goes for the plough day that we attend. Talking to each other and communicating is everything. I also love how in such a small area that we all help each other out where we can.”
The long hours in summer used to get Emma quite down and depressed as her husband was out all day light hours, but over the past two years she goes out to join him.
“I help him out so we can get done quicker but this is also a way of spending time together.”
Emma is very active on Twitter so do go and give her a follow.
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