How to become a Farmer – An Interview with Welsh Farmer Ioan Humphreys

As part of our rural community blog, we sit down and speak to farmers about all things farming. In this blog we spoke with Ioan Humphreys (@that_welsh_farmer), who is a 4th generation Welsh farmer based …

As part of our rural community blog, we sit down and speak to farmers about all things farming. In this blog we spoke with Ioan Humphreys (@that_welsh_farmer), who is a 4th generation Welsh farmer based in mid-Wales who farms cattle, sheep and chickens.

I’m Ioan Humphreys, I live in a small village called Carno in mid Wales. 

Q: What kind of farm do you work on, is it just sheep or other animals too?

A: I farm suckler cattle, a flock of sheep and free range laying hens.

Q: What’s your farming background, were you born into farming or did you start yourself?

A: I was born in the farm that has been in the family since 1903. Didn’t have any interest in farming when I was younger was too busy messing about.

Q: Why did you decide to become a farmer?

A: When I was 18 my dad got diagnosed with prostate cancer and couldn’t manage to run the farm anymore. I took over from him and attended farming college Llysfasi up in north Wales. I kind of got thrown in the deep end with farming but I’m glad I did because I love it now!

Q: What are the key qualities needed to do be a farmer?

A: To be a farmer you need patience, a hard working attitude, a love for the countryside and a passion for agriculture.

Q: How did you train to become a farmer?

A: I learnt how to be a farmer off my father, as he could work to his full ability he could still help and guide me. Llysfasi helped with different opinions and other ways to farm than my dad knew.

Q: Do you use a sheepdog? What’s his or her name and how long have you had them?

A: I have a sheepdog called Queenie she’s a Welsh collie and I’ve had her for 7 years. I had her as a 10 week old puppy and she lived in the house with me for 4 months before going into a kennel. I’ve trained her myself and she’s probably the best dog in the world. I’ve also just bought a Huntaway puppy Bess who I will train. 

Q: Do you have children and run a home too? If so, how do you juggle these responsibilities?

A: I’ve just had a son born in November. It’s a lot of responsibility because the animals need help as well so I’ve got to sort them out and then spend time with my son as soon as I have a spare chance.

Q: Can you briefly describe a typical working day?

A: So my working day has changed drastically since having my son. So he wakes up about 6/6.30 so I go downstairs with him to give my wife a lie in until 7.30. Then I head outside to make sure all the animals are happy and okay. I head up to the hen house at 8.30 to sort out the 30,000 eggs until 12 (I’ll have a poached egg on toast at 10.30). Then I’ll head back to the main farm and do any sheep or cattle work that needs doing, or if they are sorted I go out contracting with my tractor and implements. Then I get home whenever I finish and usually spend an hour or two singing Welsh songs to my son before he goes to bed. Then I have my supper and go to bed ready for my next day.

Q: Do you get any time off? If you do, what do you like to do?

A: I make sure to have a couple of hours off once a week just to leave the farm. It’s usually a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, I go swimming with my family or play football for my local team.

Q: What’s great about being a farmer?

A: Being a farmer is great due to the variety of your day. It’s very rare I do the same thing two days in a row. I’m outside 70% of the time and it’s such a satisfying job seeing all your hard work pay off.

Q: What do you think are the challenges?  

A: Challenges of farming. The strain on your mental health, the weather. The money worries. The lack of support from the government and then the general public as I think us farmers are terrible at showing all the good we do for the countryside and environment so we get bad press and that’s really hard to see happen.

Q: Have you always felt supported when learning and on the job?

A: My mother and father have always been 100% supportive on me. They let me spend £1.5 million in 2019 to build my poultry unit.

Q: What would you say to other people thinking of becoming a farmer?

A: Other people wanting to be farmers the first thing you must do is try and get into an agricultural college. They are so good. They can help you get placements to start work and give you a real good education into agriculture. 

Q: What job opportunities are available for somebody wanting to become a farmer?

A: It seems to be difficult to get into agriculture currently, but education is key along with the right attitude and willingness to learn. If you go to work at a farm most farmers are happy to help you learn and grow as a farmer as long as you show willing to try. The farmers that aren’t willing to help aren’t really worth working for!

If you’re a farmer and you’d like to contribute in our campaign to raise awareness for the incredible work in British agriculture, please drop us a DM on Instagram – @aplanrural