Roger Evans is a dairy and poultry farmer in the UK, he writes a regular column for the Western Daily News and is a popular after-dinner speaker. His book Over the Farmer’s Gate recounts life on his farm and his perspective on the state of farming that year. It is written almost as a diary or memoir and is a lovely gentle read, reminding me somewhat of James Herriot’s books. Evans is a keen nature lover and reveals how the wildlife is altering as a result of various schemes introduced by the Dept of Agriculture, not necessarily all for the better. He recounts, with pride, the increase in the number of hares and red kites but the increase in ravens and magpies is not viewed as positive especially as ravens tend to kill new lambs. The book works through Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
Funny stories include moving sheep through the village in the past and how if some decided to take off, it was possible to stick them ?into a telephone box and villagers would know what was happening whereas with the change in the times, they now have to be transported by tractor and trailer. Changes abound such as threats to shops, post office, the local pub and the local school. The dogs have characters all of their own particularly Mert the cattle dog, farmer and dog seem to get up to all sorts of trouble.
I also found it interesting in terms of reading about farming in the UK as it is quite different from here in Ireland. Most farmers here will be owned although many farmers rent additional land here. Many farms there are tenanted as is the case in this farm. It sounds like a sizeable farm with various enterprises including dairy farming, a poultry enterprise and a B&B. ?Numerous conversations with the local gamekeeper and references to the landlord and the various shoots that take place hint at the wealth and aristocracy that still exists – something that is far removed from Irish farming – gentlemen farmers are few and far between here!
I’m half way through A Farmer’s Lot which is told in diary format for the whole year of 2011. More adventures occurring between Mert and the corgi pup who is believed to be half fox. We can read about the weekly exploits, farm activities and his farming memories.
Farmers will love these books, particularly if they are dairy farmers. ‘Townies’ should read it too – for enjoyment and to learn about how farmers produce the food they eat.
Both are entertaining, gentle reads – perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
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M T McGuire
It sounds fun and I bet my Mum would enjoy it. I’ll look out for it.