This photo shows a shaggy grey sheepdog stood on the back of a quadbike. She looks alert and is focused on something to the right, panting slightly. She has brown eyes, and is bathed in golden morning light. In the background, out of focus, we can see a tree against the blue sky.

Dog days

The ‘shh shh ’ from the farmer rallying the sheep towards the race and the rumble of their feet on the gravel.

The pungent sheep dip in the cold morning air. The relief from the warm sun as it comes up and the excitement for the long day ahead.

It was a hectic morning, our cat had kittens, we were having kittens, we raced around tidying, cleaning, putting things away.

It was the morning of our first ever Open Farm Sunday, we were keen to welcome people and show what we do but it didn’t come without endless preparations. The morning was quickly disappearing and we would soon have a farm full of people coming to see what we do. It was a panic but once we got going and people seemed engaged it felt like we could relax just a little.

By the end of the second group, after we had talked and talked and we finally wished the last of the visitors goodbye, we were all exhausted and went to bed at 7pm.

This photo is taken from the inside of a horse box, looking out at a group of people sitting in blue plastic chairs, facing away from the camera. The group are watching a person in a field, who is also facing away from the camera towards a group of four sheep. Behind the sheep we can just make out the small blurred figure of a sheepdog. In the distance we can see dry stone walls and rolling green fields. In the immediate foreground, inside the horse box, we can see a table with ingredients laid out to make rolls, plus some cans of fizzy drink.
This photo shows a man dressed in a green coat and overalls holding a young adult sheep. He has his right arm around her and is holding her jaw with his left hand. The sheep is looking at the camera and the man is laughing. In the background we can see fencing and trees, and a blue sky with some white clouds.

Laughs, memories, stories for every face, care, welfare, the future of our flock, sunshine.

Diversification, the opening of our little farm shop

Another challenge we are faced with as farmers, making actual profit. Our chances of any are often based on the luck of the day, the unpredictability of the trade in the auction often leaves us feeling ripped off and disappointed. So we decided to put some of the say into our own hands – but it doesn’t come without its challenges.

More and more local slaughterhouses are closing across the UK to make room for the big boys, it seems it’s go big or go home these days. This means animals have to make a longer journey before they meet their fate which isn’t only a welfare issue but also adds needless emissions to the produce. Costs of packaging and finding someone local who is willing to take on the constant supply of meat. Marketing, a huge and unexpected part of the business and something we’re probably not great at as farmers, but we’re grappling and trying our best.

We take pride in what we produce and it feels good to cut out the middleman and sell directly to the consumer, this also opens up opportunity to educate the consumer and have more connection to and respect for the food they eat and in turn the hard working farmers that produce it.

This photo shows a wooden sign that reads "Miller Farm Shop", with a logo featuring a pig and a chicken. In front of the sign is a wicker basket filled with shrink-wrapped meat products like sausages, kidney, and a leg of lamb.
This photo shows a group of three sheep dogs sat on the back of a quad bike, facing the camera. They look damp, but are bathed in golden sunshine. In the sky overhead is a faint rainbow against thinning grey clouds. The dog at the back is looking at something behind the camera and looks alert and majestic. The dog on the right is looking directly at the camera and looks calm and wise. The dog on the left is sitting lower down, and appears to be looking sheepishly towards something on the right. Behind the dogs we can see a blurry green field and a dry stone wall.

Just a typical day farming in the Lake District.

Rain all day while we hosted a dog trial, then the sun finally came out once we were finished. But nevertheless, the sun giving a glorious glow on our A team, with a beautiful rainbow dazzling in the background.

Moments like these make it all worthwhile.

All photos on this page are © Tamar Miller

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