Nikita Garner, 29, is a sheep farmer on about 15-acres in East Durham. She completed a masters degree in humanities at Northumbria University with a research-led dissertation on current issues faced by British farmers. She now works in project management.
Farm 24: I am writing this off the back of another successful #Farm24.
It is always great to see people sharing their passion and every year I learn new things and make valuable new contacts. It really is social media at its best.
I am not from a farming family, so building contacts has been crucial for me. My husband and I started from scratch a few years ago, negotiating as much land as possible into the purchase of a run-down farmhouse and built up from there, juggling the day-to-day with full-time desk jobs to pay the bills.
We do not have thousands of acres or huge numbers of livestock. I keep a handful of breeding ewes and a lovely Shetland tup, but I really enjoy working with them and had a successful first year of lambing my own ewes, which was incredibly rewarding.
I often read about new entrants and young people trying to get into farming and think it is important not to devalue what people do simply because it is small scale.
Flock: I got into farming several years ago after moving my horse to an old sheep farm on the outskirts of Durham. It was lambing time and I quickly got stuck in and never looked back.
Starting my own flock became my ambition and to see it realised has been fantastic, though not without its ups and downs.
I am now thinking about the future and considering buying in some good pedigree Ryeland bloodlines which should suit the set-up we have, though I have become a real advocate of the Shetland breed’s hardiness and good nature.
Honeybees: Aside from the sheep, horses and chickens, we also keep honeybees on the farm.
Beekeeping is becoming increasingly popular lately and I am often asked about it. It is not a passive hobby, they need care and knowledge, but the rewards are fantastic.
They are fascinating creatures and this year’s honey has the most incredible floral taste.
With autumn just around the corner there is still plenty to do here, not least of which is to hope for a better winter than last year.
I need to buy in feed and bedding shortly, which is weighing on my mind after the weather we have had this summer.
We have managed one big job recently though. All the sheep came in for vaccinations, worming and a health check last weekend. They were all in great shape ready for breeding in the winter so I am really pleased.