James Baylis runs Solway Shepherd, a contract shepherding business operating mainly in Scotland.
James says that having entered the agricultural industry as a new entrant in January 2014, the last few years have been quite a learning curve.
"I began my farming journey with an award-winning beef enterprise in Gloucestershire and never imagined myself working with sheep in a million years before making the move to Scotland. However, in January 2015 I purchased 16 old in-lamb ewes, making me possibly the only Welshman to leave the country to begin working with sheep!
"Those 16 old girls gave me my introduction in to the world of sheep farming, and set me off on the path to becoming a contract shepherd.
"Becoming a contract shepherd wasn’t a conscious decision, and it’s a job that I stumbled in to if I’m perfectly honest, when I began to be offered money by local farmers when helping out to gain some extra experience. The workload kept increasing and I was able to use the skills learned on the current intake of the Tesco Future Farmer Foundation course to set myself up as a sole trader and make contract shepherding my main occupation.
"From those original 16 ewes, I’ve been lucky to work with a number of fantastic farmers and around 8,600 ewes plus followers in 2016 so far, taking me right across Scotland and even South of the Border on occasion. I’m ably backed up by the rest of the Team Solway Shepherd, my daft 1 year old welsh Collie Non, my five-month-old Huntaway pup Dane and my girlfriend Iona, who I often drag away from her desk and job in agricultural PR to help with sheep work."
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