Amy Wilkinson works on her family’s tenanted farm in Lancashire. Working mainly with her dad, Amy farms 285ha of arable crops and 550 beef cross cattle which are all reared through to finishing. You can follow her on Instagram @amygingewilkinson
Working on the family farm, the one thing I always get asked is ‘did you always want to work on the farm’? The honest answer is no and my parents never pressured any of us to take on the farm.
However, as a teenager the main reason I did not see farming as a career was the dreaded prospect of grading potatoes.
Grading spuds is the process of standing next to a rolling table picking off litter, mud and bruised/rotten potatoes from what had been dug in the field that day. In my experience it is usually cold and pretty miserable work.
On the bus back from school my sister would receive the dreaded ‘can you come and grade’ text from Dad. For all farm children reading this, this is a rhetorical question and you are going to be grading spuds whether you like it or not.
To prove this point, my dad would send a second text saying ‘bring a brew out with you’, so off my sister and I would go with our brew tray loaded.
Now, I may not have liked grading spuds but my sister hated it and while walking into the shed, she would magically lose the use of her left arm and lean on the table until Dad gave up and moved her to putting bags on the machine. This job was a lot nicer, warmer and cleaner.
I hated it when she did this because this would often mean her swapping jobs with a Polish lady called Mary who came and worked a couple of seasons for us.
Mary may have been a lovely lady but, as she spoke very little English and resembled a red haired Miss Trunchbull from the Roald Dahl novel Matilda, she never once returned any of my smiles and would often tut at me. She terrified me to such an extent that the nickname Scary Mary was born.
With my heart set on a career working with animals, I finished school and began A-levels, which turned out just weren’t for me. I quit after a year and spent the summer working on-farm and discovered my passion, which led me to apply to Myerscough College, where I studied both my BTEC and degree in agriculture.
I had to learn fast and I did. I am now confident with any task on the farm and I really can’t imagine doing anything else.
It also helps we no longer grow spuds.
My sister is now an events co-ordinator, which is something more up her alley. However, over lockdown all my siblings have played a bigger role on-farm.
The aforementioned sister is now dubbed our ‘Furlough Farmer’, while my other sister is now applying to university and doesn’t agree that being a ‘great baler operator’ should be in her application, while my brother is slowly getting more involved too.