Rock and Roll Farming Podcast

Rock and Roll Farming Podcast – Jill of all Trades

Tonight I’m really happy to be heading down under to outback south Australia to talk to Gillian Fennell on her family’s one million acre cattle station.

We talk about the part of Australia where they live, and some of the challenges they face with the climate and remote location, before moving on to talk about her background growing up in a small Queensland town and her time misbehaving at boarding school!

We discuss how she met her husband Mark, and how after a whirlwind romance they headed off windmill contracting in the Northern Territory, camping in the bush and fixing broken windmills, before moving back to town for a couple of years and attempting to live a ‘normal life.’

We then hear about how her Father in Law sold up and moved to a one million acre cattle station in South Australia, and their decision to go along too. We talk about the initial challenges they faced with no air conditioning, no mobile phone, no internet, and the nearest town being 350km away, as well as the strains of living in such close quarters with in-laws.

Gillian talks candidly and openly about her history with depression, something that has plagued her since her teenage years, and how seeking treatment has helped her to control it, as well as the importance of social media in helping to overcome isolation problems.

We talk about their three children and how they’re schooled at home via the Alice Springs School of the Air, and how challenging this can be, as well as the difficulties in keeping young people in rural communities. We also discuss Gillian and her husband Mark’s roles as volunteer Ambulance Officers, and what this entails, dealing with incidents from road traffic accidents to bar brawl injuries.

We the discuss in depth the cattle on the farm – 5000 head of Charolais x Brahmans. We talk about their characteristics, and how they suit their system and management, as well as some of the practicalities and how they muster them 3 times a year using motor bikes and gyrocopters to wean and sell.

We also talk about the difficulties that particularly kangaroos, but also wild horses cause, and how they have to deal with these on a regular basis.

All this and lots, lots more. I started this podcast with the aim of helping to show off cool and interesting people involved in agriculture, and Gillian fits the mould for that perfectly! Check it out folks.

Rock and Roll Farming – A Town Called Malham

Tonight I’m delighted to be heading up to Malham in the Yorkshire Dales to talk to beef and sheep farmer, Neil Heseltine.

And yes, first of all we start off talking about how a rugby playing upland farmer called Neil ended up with the slightly confusing twitter handle of @hilltopfarmgirl 😉

After clearing that up though, we move on to talk about the farm that his family have been at for several generations, and the challenges of farming at 1200-1800ft above sea level, as well as discussing his early life and his time studying agriculture at Seale Hayne in Devon.

We talk about his return to the family farm, and the changed he’s made since, including the reintroduction of cattle, the traditional British Breed of Belted Galloway, some of their characteristics, and the reasons behind that decision. We also chat about the Pasture Fed Livestock Association and how they’re producing meat more sustainably from grass.

We talk about how they reduced their Swaledale sheep numbers from a high of 800 to 200, and how their entire farming system is now based around the natural environment, which has seen flora and fauna, hares, and birds such as lapwings and curlews return to the farm.

Neil tells us about the Nature Friendly Farmers Network, the recent surge of interest there’s been in this relatively new organisation, and why he believes that increased focus on the environment in farming can lead to a more sustainable and profitable business.

We talk about the importance of selling their produce locally, and the social and community aspect of this, before moving on to talk about some of the scepticism he’s encountered with regard to his way of farming.

We also discuss mental health in the farming industry, and how we must address the terrible accidental death and suicide statistics that are the largest of any industry in the UK.

All this and much more. Neil’s a great guy, farming in a really interesting way, and it was an absolute privilege to get to know him better tonight. Check it out folks..



This episode is kindly sponsored by NFU Cymru. For more information please visit or

Rock and Roll Farming Podcast – Farming, Family, & Future

Tonight I’m delighted to be staying in Wales and heading down to Brecon in Powys to talk to farmer and new President of NFU Cymru, John Davies.

We talk about the family farm near the village of Merthyr Cynnog and the various enterprises they have there, including 100 suckler cows, finishing Welsh Black Cattle, 1000 ewes, and a contracting business covering 2000 acres of grass silage production for neighbouring farms.

We also discuss the 3 holiday units that they renovated to a very high standard from derelict farm buildings, and now rent out to tourists –

We go into the various events they’ve held on the farm, from YFC rally, through to the very first Royal Welsh Grassland event in 2012, which happened to be the wettest June day in living memory!

We discuss the huge role that Young Farmer’s Club has played in his life, from being National Chairman to meeting his wife Menna ,and some of the experiences that he had along the way, as well as a local history project that he was involved in ‘Cofio’r Epynt’ which looked at the impact to the area when 52 families had to be moved at short notice in 1939 to create an army training area.

We also talk about his time as Chairman of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, and his role in organising the biggest Ag show in Europe, The Royal Welsh Show.

We then discuss at length NFU Cymru (Wales National Farmer’s Union), and how he feels to be elected President. We talk about some of the issues facing Welsh farmers at the moment, the importance of securing a free trade deal with Europe, and how vital it is for people to get involved and support the organisation. We also discuss what it’s like to stand up and stick your head above the parapet, and how important it is to have good friends and family around you, and what motivates John to take on a high profile role like this.

All this and much more. John’s a fantastic representative for Welsh farming and a great guy, and it was an absolute pleasure to talk to him tonight. Check it out folks..



This episode is kindly sponsored by NFU Cymru. For more information please visit or

Rock and Roll Farming – Being a Farm Vet

Tonight I’m heading down to Gloucestershire to talk to Vet and Sheep farmer, Phillipa Page.

We discuss her early years in Lancashire in a non-farming family, and her decision at the tender age of ten to one day become a vet. We talk about the years of hard work and dedication that followed, with a degree in Animal Production science at Leeds, followed by 5 years of further study at Liverpool.

We talk abut the various jobs and experiences Phillipa had whilst studying, including the baptism of fire that was working with vets around the country during the foot and mouth crisis. She talks movingly about that difficult time, and how the farming community welcomed her, and increased her determination to become a part of that.

We talk about what being a successful vet means, and the importance of being able to work with farmers who can be under great stress. We also discuss Women vets, how sexism can still be present even now in 2018, and how they’ve proved themselves more than equal with their male counterparts.

We go into her years spent as a dairy vet in Gloucestershire, one of the hardest hit areas of the Uk for bovine TB, and how difficult it is telling farmers they have a reactor in their herd, before going on to talk about her current role working as a sheep vet at Flock Health Ltd, and what that entails.

We also discuss both her and her husband’s farming operation, the farm shop that they opened in 2015, and how they juggle it all with being the parents of two young children!

I’ve wanted to talk to a farm vet since I started the podcast, and I’ve finally got around to it now! Phillipa’s a fantastic example of just how integral they are to livestock farming, and it was a real pleasure to chat to her tonight. Check it out folks..



This episode is kindly sponsored by NFU Cymru. For more information please visit or


Rock and Roll Farming – Facetime A Farmer

Tonight I’m heading over to Haddon in Cambridgeshire to talk to arable farmer & the man behind FaceTime a Farmer, Tom Martin.

We talk about the family farm, and the various crops they’re growing, and also what Tom, as a self-confessed soil nerd is doing to improve the conditions there. We also discuss what he means by describing himself as a ‘conservation farmer.’

We go into his decision to go to Uni at 18 to study Natural Sciences, and afterwards Business Management, and how that led to various jobs including as an analyst for strategic consultancy, and later to working for Universal Pictures in London.

We then discuss what prompted him to return to the farm in his mid-30s, and how that worked in practical terms. We also talk abut some of the changes he’s made, and how good communication with his Parents has helped with this.

We talk about tom’s passion for sharing what happens ‘behind the farm gate’, and why he thinks this is important, as well as his involvement in a range of organisations from CLA, NFU, LEAF to the East of England Agricultural Society. We also discuss public speaking, how he became good at it, and how he’s now coaching others with it.

We also discuss at length the amazing initiative FACETIME A FARMER, what it is, how it came about, and how farmers, teachers, and schools can get involved, and how it has the potential to revolutionise the way children learn about food production all around the World.

All this and much, much more. Tom’s a lovely guy, a fantastic communicator, and incredibly passionate about UK agriculture, and it was a genuine pleasure to talk to him tonight.

Check it out folks..

Rock and Roll Farming Podcast – Love at First Sight

Tonight I’m heading over to Aherla, near Cork in the South of Ireland to talk to dairy farmers Peter and Paula Hynes @Peterhynes15 @Paulahynes4

Firstly we talk about their non-farming backgrounds, how they met through a mutual love of horses and have been inseparable ever since, and how they ended up on their own dairy farm with 3 small Daughters in tow.

Peter then talks movingly and in depth about his issues with mental health, and how he eventually overcame them with the help and support of Paula and multiple counselling sessions. We also discuss why he’s now trying to help others with similar struggles.

We talk about the couple’s dairy farm, and how they’ve grown it from 50 cows in 2014, to 180 cows this year. We also go into some of the highs and lows they’ve experienced along the way, including their devastation at losing 32 Cows to Bovine TB, and winning the prestigious Irish Farmer of the Year 2017.

I also ask Peter all about his recent shenanigans with pink overalls with leopard print trim, raising money for charity.

Peter and Paula are one of the nicest, most genuine couples you could ever meet, fantastic farmers, and an absolute credit to the agricultural industry. It was an absolute pleasure to talk to them both tonight.

Check it out folks..


This episode is kindly sponsored by NFU Cymru. For more information please visit or