Lydia Watts lives on a farm with her husband, Rich who she met ten years ago.
They run a dairy and beef farm on a beautiful South Wales hillside. It was primarily dairy and the farm has been in Richard’s family for 100 years but Lydia says it feels a bit like the end of an era now, and hopefully the start of a new one.
The family are building up a suckler herd and also starting a pedigree Simmental herd. Their most ambitious plans for the farm involve their newly established ‘glampsite’. The idea was born out of necessity when they were hit hard by TB at the start of 2017.
They lost 40 cattle, many milkers and many in calf. It was heartbreaking and forced us to look hard at their future.
They wanted to carry on farming but needed a new avenue. After much soul searching and debating, they decided on glamping.
Lydia was not born into farming and she jokes that she doesn’t think she had actually met an actual farmer until she met Rich ten years ago.
“Since then I have learnt to drive a tractor, herd cattle, stand in gateways like a pro, assist with calving, tagging and the endless tedious paperwork.
“I have also learnt that being a farmer or a farmer’s wife is a whole lot different from what I expected.
“People say it’s a way of life but I didn’t really appreciate that until we lived here on the farm with our four boys. The whole family, even my non farming parents, all pitch in when necessary,” she said.
Last winter was a whirlwind of business plans, planning applications, research and website building. The snow of March, followed by endless mud set them back but they opened two weeks after Easter, 2018 and haven’t looked back.
“There was always the niggling fear that maybe no one would come, as we aren’t in a traditional tourist area, but the response from our guests has been amazing and bookings have been higher than we could have hoped.
“Setting up and successfully launching a business in an area so far out of my comfort zone is something I’m very proud of and probably one of my biggest achievements.”
Lydia splits her time between school runs, housework, farming and managing the glamping business.
“It’s pretty hectic and sometimes overwhelming but also incredibly rewarding. Fortunately, I like to be busy,” she says.
The biggest challenge to the farm is undoubtedly the TB crisis and the decisions it forced them to make. The TB situation is certainly one of the biggest problems facing farming at the moment, surmises Lydia.
“If the public could learn one thing about our lifestyle, it should be to see the effect on farms and farmers of the culling of cattle. It really is devastating both emotionally and financially and there is very little public awareness.:
Lydia says she loves the lifestyle my children get to experience, growing up with fields to run in, calves to pet, tractors to ride in is amazing as well as the fact I can work alongside my husband doing something we both love.
“The thing I like least about farming is the endless paperwork which takes up a lot of our time, although some of it is necessary.”
If you would like to be considered as a ‘Women in Farming’ feature, email email@example.com