This photo shows a close-up of a brown calf lying in green grass on a sunny day.  The calf is close to the camera, but out of focus and slightly obscured by the long grass. We can see the calf's white face and brown ears, and one eye with white eyelashes. In the distance we can see the blurred figures of other cows on the horizon.

“Do not disturb”

We start calving on the 1st April. All our calves are born outside which is quite unusual. The big reason for us is that it’s so clean, the environment’s so healthy. We don’t have to give any antibiotics. Nature looks after it all.

Every day I give the cows a new patch of grass. Often the calves like to go in front of their mums and lie in the long grass. This calf is snuggled up with a full tummy of milk, enjoying the spring sunshine.

October evening in Northumberland

This picture was taken from the farm house where I live. Seasons play a huge part in a farmers life, as our jobs change throughout the year.

I always find autumn quite evocative, knowing that we’ve got to prepare for five, six months through the winter when the grass stops growing. We rely on the grass to feed our animals, so we have to be prepared and make sure there’s enough food in store.

I felt this was a poignant moment, capturing the last rays of the sun as it goes down. I’ve seen a lot of winters now, and it always comes to an end. Spring will be here again soon.

This photo shows a farm track in the foreground with a bright gold sunset in the background, which is reflecting off the road surface. On the left is a ditch and a hedgerow, to the right is a dry stone wall and some mature trees.
This photo shows a herd of black cows in a field full of long grass, thistles and scrub. There are mature trees in the background. We can see the glare of late afternoon summer sun coming from the left, and the cow nearest to the camera has a white patch on their forehead.

Cows just doing their job

A ruminant is an animal with four stomachs, so they have the unique ability to digest tough plant matter. The first stomach is called the rumen. When cows are relaxing, they “chew the cud”, breaking down their food which allows further digestion in their other stomachs.

Biodiversity means having a wide variety of plant and animal species. So, it’s the opposite of a field that just contains wheat, or one type of grass. Fields like this have loads of insects, because we don’t use anything like pesticides or chemical fertilisers . Everything gets to live on these pastures. That land isn’t suitable for growing crops, it can’t be cultivated or harvested. So it’s acting as a massive carbon store as well, because the soil’s not been disturbed.

This will have been around July or August. We don’t let the cows in here until the ground nesting birds have finished nesting, and until all the flowers have been pollinated so they can produce seeds for next year. And for plants to regrow well, they need animals like cows to eat them and fertilise the ground.

“My Mam and Dad aren’t farmers, doesn’t mean I can’t be. Living the dream 👍”

On the farm we have two lads who aren’t from a farming background. Both got the outdoor bug at a very young age, and realised that working on the land was what they wanted to do.

The lad in the picture, it was always his goal to work on a farm and work with sheep. He put a plan together as to how he would do that: making contact with farms and agricultural colleges, gaining experience at weekends. Then he went into further education with an apprenticeship. This meant 2 days at college, 3 days working on the farm.

If someone’s got the will to learn about farming, it makes teaching them the skill easy. I think our industry has to be aware that it takes time to learn to farm, and unfortunately it can be difficult for farmers to put time aside to teach people. The failing of the industry is that unfortunately there’s often not enough time given to bringing new people in. I think what new people bring is a freshness and an enthusiasm, and a new perspective.

This photo shows a young man and a sheepdog inside a farm building. The man is facing us and we can see the top half of his body. He is wearing a green jumper and a navy blue woolly hat, and smiling at the camera. The sheepdog appears to be stood on something behind the man, and has his paws over the man's shoulders. The sheepdog is also looking at the camera, and the man is holding the dog's front paws in his hands. Behind them we can see several freshly-shorn sheep.
A flock of turkeys with black feathers and pink necks are stood close together near the camera, most of them looking to the right. One turkey appears in the frame at the bottom of the photo, slightly blurred but looking at the person taking the photo.

“What’s happening, Dave?”

These are free range organic turkeys which arrive on the farm, one day old, in late June. They have sheds to go into at night time, but their days are spent in fields and woodland adjacent to their night time shelter.

These turkeys are destined for the Christmas table. There’s lots of reasons why we have them organic and outdoor reared. Firstly, to give them the best life possible. Secondly, to give the meat a fantastic flavour.

The turkeys employ two people throughout the year, and a larger team of people in the run up to Christmas. They use buildings which would otherwise be obsolete. We have an abattoir on the farm for the turkeys, and they are sold locally. This means the food miles are kept to a minimum, and the turkeys don’t have the stress of long journeys in lorries.

They’re very inquisitive animals, and I think this photo just sums up their curiosity.

All photos on this page are © Angus Nelless