This week I’m chatting to farmer turned builder turned farmer again Neil Quinlan about his journey back in to the industry and his first year of farming.
James: What’s your farming background?
Neil Quinlan: My grandfather was a dairy farmer on a tenanted farm on Cholmondeley Estate. He’d taken over from his father. My uncle then took over the tenancy. So from a very early age I was involved with farming. Working in the holidays and weekends as much as I could. Milking, harvest and of course dreaded small bale carting!
My love of farming continued but I kind of lost my way in my late teens early twenties and turned to building, eventually setting up my own small business. I’d always kept in touch with the industry and had hoped to go back. I got to 30 and thought it’s now or never. And besides I generally prefer cows to people. An opportunity came up to work on a neighbouring farm and they put a huge amount of faith and trust in me considering I’d been away from the industry for so long. So I’m very grateful to them for that.
J: Quite a lot of farming folk drift away to try different things but seem to never really get away from the pull of farming! The skills you developed in building must come in handy about the farm though! What was it like getting back in to farming? Was it like riding a bike?
N: My building skills have definitely come in handy. Especially as we recently converted an old cubicle shed in to calf housing. I slipped back in to farming quite easily. Again this was due to the guys I worked for. They made me feel part of the team from day one. Made me feel like part of the decision-making process and were very open about what some might call sensitive information on the farm such as finances.
Of course it was great to be working back with cows again. I did find it difficult working weekends and I’d also gone from being my own boss to working for someone else which had its own challenges, but that meant holiday pay!
J: How long were you back in farming before your mind began to think of farming in your own right and was it a hard decision to make leaving your job in an attempt to make it on your own?
N: I’d thought about having my own farm since I was this big!