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New graduate's diary
  1. Jen Hall


Constant press coverage about the lack of job opportunities for young people makes depressing reading, but last week Jen Hall met a young farmer whose commitment to pursuing his dream left her in awe.

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It is easy to feel depressed about the current economic situation. However, last week I was at a whole-herd TB test where I met a young farmer who, on first impression, seemed like any other beef farmer. Over the course of the day I got chatting to him and his father, and I was left in awe at the commitment these men had shown in pursuing their dreams.

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The family, I discovered, had built up their farm from scratch – they had not inherited farm buildings, land or livestock. Father and son had spent most of their lives working as farmhands or dairymen on other farms, gaining experience and saving money. Between them they had gradually built up a business, and now own nearly 150 beef cows and 400 lambing ewes. The son still works on a local dairy farm to ensure he has a constant income – milking from 6 am until 9 am, and again at 5 pm – and tending to his own stock in between.

Both men manage to snatch a few hours' sleep each night. When I asked them how they sustained such an intense level of work, and why they worked themselves so hard, I was not prepared for the passion in their answer. Father stood up tall, slapped his son on the back, and explained that he had worked all his life – from the age of 12 – and the proudest moment of his life was to be able to work on his son's own farm, even if he was 80 and ‘a bit slower than he used to be’. His son told me that he works long hours because his desire to create a business and a livelihood for himself was the most important thing in the world, and it gave him an unbeatable sense of achievement to work on the farm he had created.

If there was ever a TB test I prayed would have no reactors, it was this one. These men didn't even consider the possibility of failure, or of not working. They had dedicated their lives to building their own sustainable and successful business and their work clearly meant everything to them. It would be hard to find a better example of personal achievement.

PS: Friday's test results were clear!

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