Francesca Beswick might have grown up on a farm but wasn’t necessarily next in line to take the business on. Here she tells us why she quit her job to go back to the family business and has found that being a woman in farming doesn’t actually matter.
Growing up on a farm as a dairy farmers daughter has always been something that I’m proud of.
Bringing friends home from school to meet my pet calf or hens was always an exciting prospect, and it’s needless to say that my friends loved it as well. Especially when they could take eggs home to their mums which they’d found in the chicken coops!
Is farming a career which is actively praised for the daughter to take on? Or is it still looked upon as the son’s job to take on the family farm? The answer is, I don’t actually know. But here’s my take on becoming a female farmer.
I’d always enjoyed bustling about the farm, fishing in the rivers and…standing in the wrong gap to move cows. I’m sure many farmer’s daughters or wives have had that moment of, “stand in that gap. NO NOT THAT GAP!!!” or sitting on the tractors during silaging time, and throwing tyres around to sheet up. But I wouldn’t say that I was ever seen to be destined to farm.
Like many other farmers daughters I was encouraged to embrace education and set off for university to study Product Design Engineering. After gaining a 2:1 honours degree, I went into the world of work and eventually ended up as a marketing manager. But there was that niggle in the back of my head saying that I could farm, I could do it.
So, I quit my job and worked full time on the family farm.
My mum did the leg work, telling my step-dad that I was going to go off and work on another farm calf-rearing when he proclaimed, “well, why can’t she do that for us?!”
So, I did. I milked every day, I fed the calves every day and I learnt more every day.
I didn’t have agricultural education, I had ‘growing up on a farm’ education. But my brain kept wanting to know more and more, so I signed up for a number of courses including;
Entrepreneurs in Dairying ran by the RABDF (the best course I have ever done, for one reason or another), Foot Trimming, DIY AI, I passed my trailer test first time and I’m signed up for a few others which are starting soon.
I’d be lying if I didn’t come across individuals along the way during courses who made a point about my gender, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t upset me. But you know what? As soon as you try your hardest in front of these people, they forget the gender thing and genuinely want to help or provide you with the information that you need.
So if you are a female and wanting to farm, or a female who’s already farming and in need of some confidence to sign up for that foot trimming course, just DO IT.
Honestly, it is one of the best feelings when you get out there and give it a go.
You’ll meet some fantastic people along the way, and even if you don’t succeed first time, you won’t forget that moment when you finally crack it and manage to get the AI gun through the cervix or back a grain trailer around a corner.
Whatever you want to achieve, I’m pretty sure you can.