Against the Odds The Farmers' Country Showdown


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Against the Odds

Five groups of dedicated farmers from across the country compete as they try to win 2017's Against the Odds category at The British Farming Awards.


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Across the country,

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thousands of farming families work tirelessly around the clock.

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Bring them up, Isobel. Well done.

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-Here they come.

-Shake it, baby, shake it.

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-But there's one day each year...

-Come on, girl. Up you go.

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..where they get to leave the daily routine behind.

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Yahoo!

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These are show days.

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Welcome to the Pembrokeshire County Show.

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They come together as a community...

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Salute!

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..to showcase the fruits of their labour...

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Had a quick look at the competition. I'm in with a chance.

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..and try to win prizes for their breed champions...

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Well done. Wa-hey!

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It's show business, folks.

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..and award-winning produce.

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I got first!

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You can have the last two jars.

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There'll be highs...

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-..and lows...

-No! No! No!

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..for the dedicated farmers who give everything to walk away a champion.

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No way!

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In the agricultural calendar, there is one event that showcases the

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drive and determination of Britain's farmers.

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The British Farming Awards.

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This thing can put 20,000 eggs over it in an hour.

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The Against The Odds category has five outstanding farms short-listed

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-as finalists.

-Milking our 370 cross-bred cows -

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they look after us, so we're looking after them.

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All earning their place on that short list, they share a strength

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and resilience which has caught the attention of the judges...

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A lot of people probably look at us and think we're mad, really.

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..but they're facing tough challenges with little or no support...

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Here you go.

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..or entering agriculture for the first time.

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It's not that bad, really, when you get views like this.

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It's quite incredible.

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Each of the five are striving to carve out a slice of farming life.

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Single greatest talent you need to be in farming

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is to be multi-talented.

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Winning here will validate years of hard work, tenacity and passion.

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Nestled in Cumbria's Lake District are our first nominees -

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30-somethings David and Rebecca Corrie-Close.

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This ambitious young couple has built a specialist beef company on

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wild tracts of land not normally used to run cattle.

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We're very new to farming, we've only been doing this for two years.

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We're not from A farming background,

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we haven't got any formal farming qualifications,

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so this is our way into farming.

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Pursuing a farming life was definitely a joint decision.

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It didn't take a lot of convincing when I said that I want to be a

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-farmer and, what do you think?

-I said "yes" straight away, I think.

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When we first started, we put in tenders for pieces of land

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and farms and we weren't successful.

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But I think in hindsight, we're probably glad that we didn't get a

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-lot of those options.

-We've had a lot of noes.

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Forced to think outside the box, they tried a new approach.

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Without any land or infrastructure, they decided they would try

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conversation grazing, which involves using cattle to

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manage protected sites and safeguard wildlife.

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We call it farming with nature,

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because we think that better describes what it is that we do.

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We've got some cattle over in the distance here

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and they need to be moved into this new bit of grazing.

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I mean, you can see this kind of land is not your normal kind of farmland.

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It's quite diverse.

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A few months ago this would've been covered in wild flowers.

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Hey, lads. Good boy.

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So this is Hotpot.

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He was the first one to be born on our holding and so we decided it

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would be a good idea to try and name him something

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that he'll end up being.

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The reason we got into farming is because we wanted to better

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understand land management.

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Farmed landscape in the UK is 70% of the land area or something like that.

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So our actions as farmers can change the landscape for the better.

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Good boy.

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David and Rebecca now manage 1,000 acres across 15 sites owned by

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different landlords.

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Come on.

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So we've got about 80 head of cattle now.

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Come on, lads.

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They're all native hardy breeds - so Highland, Shetland,

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Long horn - and they thrive in these kind of conditions.

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As a qualified zoologist, Rebecca knows about animal welfare.

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Come on. Good boys. Come on.

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But their unusual farming methods have attracted scepticism.

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We're putting cattle up on the fells during the winter,

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which is... People saying, "What?!"

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Some people think we're mad.

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But then they see them come off the fells after winter and looking at

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-them and they realise...

-Maybe we're not so mad.

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Today, they're moving some of their herd to a field that has just been mowed.

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This is so the cattle can graze on the bits that couldn't be reached.

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-Well done, you lot.

-Come on, sweetheart.

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Pleased to be in a big open space again.

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Good boy.

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They've had fantastic diet and they've been handled gently.

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There's no stress involved at all, throughout their whole lives.

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That ultimately has an impact on the meat that you eat.

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The biggest challenge managing 80 cattle across 15 sites

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is keeping track of it all.

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All of our sites are spread throughout south Cumbria.

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We spend a lot of time in the car going between the different cattle

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and checking them.

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So we're going to Arnside Knott, a National Trust-owned property.

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It's about 40 acres of quite tricky terrain.

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With animals free roaming on such extensive land,

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David and Rebecca need help to track them down.

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Luckily, there's an app for that!

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So do you want to check on your phone where they are?

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-Yes.

-They're probably sheltering in the trees last night with all that rain.

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You're right, they're at the top.

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Come on, then, dogs.

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It's quite new technology.

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There aren't that many people using it to track cattle,

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but for us, it just works.

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A shame technology isn't always what it's cracked up to be.

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So they've covered quite a bit of distance since that last reading,

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haven't they? So it's a bit of a walk.

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Come on, boys.

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In the five minutes since the app updated,

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the cattle have decided to wander off.

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So this is what it tends to be like,

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is walking round a lot trying to find them,

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but it's not that bad, really, when you get views like this.

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It's quite incredible.

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So it requires a lot of effort physically,

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using modern technology and traditional mechanical means.

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-Rebecca?!

-Yeah?

-They're over here.

-OK.

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Found them after a bit of a search.

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But thank God we have the tracking collar on them because they're deep

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in the woods, here.

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Hi, lads.

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Keeping nice and cool in here?

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We operate on gut feeling a lot of the time and, to us, this feels right.

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This feels like the kind of farming we want to be doing.

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Most people will go, "Where's the grass, what are they eating?"

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They'll eat brambles. Leaves from trees.

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The animals are thriving in this type of habitat.

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They look fantastic.

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They've only just begun,

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but this determined young couple know where they're heading.

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We want to carry on building the success of our business.

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And the way that we farm and being able to demonstrate that farming

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with nature can work.

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The couple's passion and ingenuity has helped them overcome the

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obstacles they've faced.

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Their perseverance makes them ideal nominees

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for the Against The Odds award.

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It's fantastic to have been short-listed.

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We do feel every single day that what we're doing is against the odds.

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We're fighting, we're working really hard to make this happen.

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Hopefully other people who aren't from a farming background

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can think, if they've done it, then why can't we do it, too?

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230 miles south,

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Devonian brothers Wayne and Elliott

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are organic dairy farmers and our second finalists.

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-We get on very well, always have.

-Brilliant.

-Yeah.

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-Wonderful. Couldn't wish for better.

-You love me, don't you?

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46-year-old Wayne and 34-year-old Elliott inherited the farming bug

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from their father.

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Farming was definitely always something from an early age,

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from five years old.

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-All we were ever going to do.

-All we was ever going to do, really.

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But life didn't play out as they had hoped.

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And they weren't able to inherit their father's farm.

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Not put off by this obstacle, the brothers continued on,

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and managed to rent 320 acres of fields with nothing on them.

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Love stock work, I love working with animals.

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And we've always milked cows, so dairy and farming seemed the obvious choice.

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It was right at the time when milk had crashed, the market had crashed,

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and most people were getting out of it, not thinking about going in.

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Eventually the brothers secured a contract with an organic milk buyer.

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We weren't fully organic for basically two years,

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so in that two-year process is when each hurdle

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had to be cleared, basically.

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Come here, Rodney. Rodney.

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When you haven't got anything, everything's a challenge.

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Yeah, we're very limited on machinery and everything that goes

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with so-called normal farming, I suppose.

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But milking on rented land with no buildings or infrastructure was an

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almost impossible task.

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That is, until the boys came up with an idea of a mobile parlour,

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built out of an old articulated truck.

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A genius move.

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When we want to move this in the winter or whenever,

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it just folds up on the sides, we can hook the tractor into it and...

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..away we go.

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However, there were no guarantees the cows would take to it.

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We did wonder, what is this going to be like?

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Are we going to be able to get them on it?

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Surprisingly, they just went up.

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-It was all fairly stress-free, wasn't it?

-Yes.

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-What we had come up with was actually working.

-Yes.

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Everything has been a challenge.

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There have been times when you do think, what have we done?

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And a lot of people probably look at us and think we're

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-blooming mad, really.

-Yes.

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I guess you stick your feet in and you think,

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-"No, we'll show you it can be done."

-And we will make it work.

-Yes.

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And we will make it work with what we've got to work with.

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They now milk 140 cows, and have ambitions to grow their herd

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through breeding their own stock.

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I think there's about 45 in this mob here.

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They're our first cows we've had on our, you know...

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-Home-grown stock.

-Yes.

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It's lovely to see some nice animals walking round the field eating

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grass and all fit and healthy and watching them grow, really, isn't it?

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-Yes.

-Like your kids.

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As if milking and running a dairy herd isn't enough work,

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the brothers keep pushing forward with all areas of the business.

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Elliott still goes out shearing.

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We go out fencing, as well, for other people.

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Just to keep it coming in at the minute while it's...

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While it's getting going, really.

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The only thing with this milking parlour is there's not massive

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amounts of room in it.

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Working together requires a special kind of relationship.

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Not a lot said, plenty of grunting.

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Sort of a telepathic thing between you two.

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Get home very often, Tracey will say to me,

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"What did Elliott say about this?" Or something like that.

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I said, "I didn't ask him, really."

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She said "Well, you've been with him all day."

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Working every hour and saving every penny is a shared strategy to

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achieve the family dream.

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Elliott's got two small children and another one on the way.

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It would be nice to perhaps see them, I suppose, occasionally,

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-wouldn't it?

-Yeah.

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Wayne and Elliott's combined determination to carry on their

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father's legacy and pursue the dream to have their own farm

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is the reason the judges short-listed them for the

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Against The Odds award.

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Getting this job actually up and running would be one of my biggest

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achievements in my life, definitely.

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But when you get somebody showing you a bit of recognition and to be

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even put in for the British Farming Awards is,

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yeah, yeah, huge, huge.

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It's probably a good time to have a little chat about this,

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the awards night, isn't it?

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Who's going, who's not going?

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Obviously, the milking is a bit of an issue, as well, isn't it?

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There's a few things that are a bit of a problem.

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And apparently not the least of their problems is getting Elliott to

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scrub up for the night.

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You'll definitely change, I expect, wouldn't you?

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I might. Probably not a hair cut, I wouldn't have thought.

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THEY BOTH LAUGH

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580 miles north on the west coast of Scotland,

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the striking hills of the Isle of Mull are home to our third

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finalist, 44-year-old Iain MacKay.

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Here you go.

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Iain's path in life was decided in his teenage years when his family

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farm was sold off.

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I was only about 15 at the time.

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And by that time I'd made my choice that, yeah, I wanted to be a farmer.

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I wanted to own my own cattle, sheep, work for myself,

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that's what I really wanted to do.

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The biggest hurdle in farming is to find land.

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Iain has had to face this problem over and over again.

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I started up a contracting business, bought a tractor,

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had a dog, and raised money and raised capital that way.

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Then we got a wee bit of ground, about four acres, which was a start.

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You know, it was really quite a happy day, I've got something.

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But, unfortunately, I lost that.

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And I had to give up the sheep and cattle.

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Come on, Sky.

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Iain didn't lose heart.

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He started again with a dog and a tractor.

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Sky, Sky, that'll do.

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Look away, look away. Hup, hup!

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We got another bit of ground which was actually in way of payment.

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I got this ground for about three years, we tended to that piece.

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And that again allowed me to build up.

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But, unfortunately, that was lost, too.

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Steady.

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Sit! Sit!

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Tenancy contracts can be short and, unless they are renewed,

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every time the land is lost, all the animals have to be sold off.

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Pip-pip.

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You'd bred those,

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so it was all blood lines that I knew and sheep that I knew.

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So, that was, yeah, that was difficult to build up from again

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because you don't know where the next chance is coming from.

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Sit. Sit, stay there, stay there.

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After losing his land and stock for a second time,

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Iain was forced to change path.

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I came out of the industry for a wee while and took a job building a

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fish-food factory in the docks in Grangemouth,

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which probably convinced me even more that I wanted to be back in the industry.

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The single greatest talent you need, you know,

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to be in farming, is to be multi-talented.

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The range of skills you've got to have is so diverse.

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I'm lucky enough to have a host of talent that I can call upon

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when I need to.

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Finally, his break came when he was doing some fencing jobs

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on the Isle of Mull ten years ago.

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I got a chance. My uncle was giving up about 500 acres

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on just that hill, and I was given the opportunity to take that on.

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I first of all said, "No, I'm not moving to an isle."

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It was so far away, and I had contracts on the mainland.

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I went home and I thought about it and I thought, "Well, why not?"

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With just under 2,000 sheep and 150 cattle,

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with 8,000 acres of tenancy land,

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Iain has come a long way from his early days.

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There's 3,000 hectares so getting around all that isn't easy.

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We bring the sheep in off the hill six times a year.

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It can take a fortnight, three weeks, to get them all in off the hill.

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Sit down, sit down. Stay there.

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The thing I probably rely on as much as anything on the farm

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is the dogs. Away.

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That's a really, really important animal on the farm.

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Without them, we couldn't get the sheep off the hills.

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It was a real roller-coaster ride, building my business.

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I was on a treadmill that was getting faster

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and faster all the time, that's what I felt.

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And it was getting steeper and steeper all the time.

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But now I feel that I'm actually farming now.

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Iain now works together with his partner, Claire,

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who is just as passionate as he is about farming.

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-That last one was 71 kilos.

-That's good.

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Claire is also up for an award.

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She's been short-listed for the Agricultural Student Category.

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I feel really lucky to have Claire here because she wants to drive this

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business forward. I mean, the whole end goal is we'd really like to try

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and own a farm eventually.

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Determined to keep building the farm, Iain has started selling

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premium-quality beef to butchers down south.

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I went to London promoting a business idea that myself and three

0:19:500:19:54

others have had about trying to maximise the return you get from

0:19:540:19:59

your product, taking it from the field right through to the plate.

0:19:590:20:03

And now we're supplying meat down to some of the best butchers in London.

0:20:030:20:08

Iain's persistence in getting to where he is today,

0:20:110:20:14

despite all the obstacles,

0:20:140:20:16

is why he's short-listed in the Against The Odds category.

0:20:160:20:19

Too many people just complain about something,

0:20:220:20:24

and they like to whinge about it, but they sit on their backside.

0:20:240:20:27

And you actually took a proactive approach and you kept trying.

0:20:270:20:31

To get through to the final five, it is quite something.

0:20:330:20:37

I would love to win it but getting this far,

0:20:370:20:39

it's really rewarding to me personally.

0:20:390:20:41

-You should be proud.

-Mm.

0:20:430:20:46

Just over 250 miles south in North Wales,

0:20:550:20:59

the Llyn Peninsula is home to our fourth finalist, Matthew Jackson.

0:20:590:21:03

A city boy by birth,

0:21:050:21:07

29-year-old Mancunian Matthew has been a farmer for 13 years.

0:21:070:21:11

We're here this morning milking our 370 cross-bred cows.

0:21:130:21:17

Yeah, looking after the girls because it's been some rough

0:21:170:21:20

weather, and they look after us so we're looking after them.

0:21:200:21:23

Come on, girls.

0:21:230:21:25

His love for farming first started on a holiday in the Welsh countryside.

0:21:250:21:30

The interest began when I was staying on the local farm about two

0:21:330:21:36

miles down the road from here, and Mum and Dad bringing us camping.

0:21:360:21:40

Back home in the city,

0:21:430:21:44

Matthew found a part-time job in a nearby farm but his past-time didn't

0:21:440:21:49

help him to fit in at school.

0:21:490:21:51

I wasn't exactly popular.

0:21:520:21:55

Stinking of silage, into a class of 35, 40 kids,

0:21:550:21:59

it's quite embarrassing going back to that

0:21:590:22:01

because none of them understood it.

0:22:010:22:03

They were probably thinking I was wasting my time, you know.

0:22:030:22:06

I don't know, I don't know.

0:22:060:22:07

Come on, girlies. Come on, girls, out you go.

0:22:070:22:10

By the age of 14, Matthew had made up his mind about his future.

0:22:100:22:15

I was hopeless at getting up for school,

0:22:150:22:17

but good for getting up for the farm, you know?

0:22:170:22:19

As soon as I was 15, I said to Mum and Dad I wanted to leave school

0:22:190:22:22

a year early and not take my GCSEs or anything.

0:22:220:22:24

And they weren't too pleased about that.

0:22:240:22:26

Come on, girls, come on.

0:22:260:22:27

From then on, nothing could stop him.

0:22:280:22:31

I came here and followed that path that I wanted to.

0:22:310:22:35

As soon as I got a taste of working for somebody that actually

0:22:370:22:40

appreciated you and paid you fairly,

0:22:400:22:42

that actually spurred me on to think this could really be somewhere,

0:22:420:22:46

to get into this industry and I could actually really progress.

0:22:460:22:49

I just enjoyed what I was doing. You know, I loved what I was doing.

0:22:500:22:53

From 16, I could literally do whatever I wanted.

0:22:530:22:56

You know, nobody was there telling me what I could and couldn't do, really.

0:22:560:23:00

Well, nobody except one person.

0:23:000:23:03

I used to work at the local pub and he used to come in, and, yeah,

0:23:040:23:09

we just hit it off, I think.

0:23:090:23:11

We hit it off because Mari used to come outside to me and check if

0:23:110:23:15

there was vodka in my drink, when I was 16, you see.

0:23:150:23:19

-And look at us now, eh?

-Yeah, I used to take him out of the pub.

0:23:190:23:21

Now I'm checking if there's vodka in Mari's drink!

0:23:210:23:24

Matthew and Mari have been together for 13 years and they have three

0:23:240:23:29

children who they believe also benefit from the farming life.

0:23:290:23:33

It's nice for the kids to grow up in such a lovely environment.

0:23:340:23:37

We're really lucky, the situation we're in.

0:23:420:23:44

I get to see the kids before they go to school, and when they're in

0:23:450:23:49

nursery and stuff I'll see them through the day maybe

0:23:490:23:51

three or four times. I'm in and out of the house, popping in and out.

0:23:510:23:54

And that's even before bed, as well.

0:23:540:23:56

They'll come to the milking parlour to see us.

0:23:560:23:58

See you later.

0:23:580:23:59

Ta.

0:24:010:24:02

Mari's very family-orientated.

0:24:050:24:07

She's been behind me all the way.

0:24:070:24:09

She can remember when we started, living in a caravan

0:24:090:24:11

and then a shack, and then getting our first house.

0:24:110:24:15

I am absolutely driven by the business and by constant challenge.

0:24:150:24:19

Against the odds, this city boy has built a business up from nothing.

0:24:220:24:26

I started to buy my own heifer calves.

0:24:260:24:29

So, I bought 20, sold them the following year and that was all

0:24:290:24:32

from my wages and doing this between my hours in work.

0:24:320:24:36

I bought the 20, sold them the following year, and so forth,

0:24:360:24:39

and by year four, I was up to 220 head.

0:24:390:24:41

Today, he's got 375 milking cows, and 240 young calves,

0:24:440:24:50

on a shared farm of 240 acres that belongs to his former boss.

0:24:500:24:55

He owns the land and the infrastructure on the farm,

0:24:560:25:00

and I own the stock on the farm.

0:25:000:25:02

Share farming is built on trust,

0:25:030:25:05

and we've both got respect for each other,

0:25:050:25:07

and we both have a very good relationship,

0:25:070:25:09

and that's the most important part of it.

0:25:090:25:11

There are 21 fields on the farm that are regularly checked so that cows

0:25:130:25:18

can get the freshest pasture.

0:25:180:25:20

They're cross-bred cows.

0:25:200:25:22

They give high milk solids.

0:25:220:25:24

The milk we send typically goes into cheese,

0:25:240:25:27

so high protein and high fat.

0:25:270:25:29

What gives the milk its high-protein value is Matthew's impressive

0:25:310:25:35

attitude to grass management.

0:25:350:25:37

Every week, Matthew diligently measures the grass quality of each field.

0:25:390:25:44

Weighing samples is key to the all-important decision

0:25:460:25:49

of whether it's ready to be consumed or not.

0:25:490:25:52

It's Matthew's incredible journey from city boy to successful farmer

0:25:580:26:03

that has made him one of this year's finalists.

0:26:030:26:05

It's the New Entrants award that I've been nominated for,

0:26:070:26:10

and it's Against The Odds.

0:26:100:26:11

Really, though, we're all against the odds, you know?

0:26:140:26:16

I'm no different to anybody else because all I've done is gone out,

0:26:160:26:19

worked hard and built this.

0:26:190:26:21

To win something like this would be fantastic, as in, to build my profile.

0:26:220:26:28

I'm trying to be recognised by young people that want to progress into

0:26:280:26:32

the industry from non-farming or farming backgrounds.

0:26:320:26:35

So, any publicity I can get to entice young people into agriculture,

0:26:350:26:41

that's exactly what I'm trying to do,

0:26:410:26:42

and give back what I've had given to me.

0:26:420:26:45

Stuff that you can't buy, money can't buy, really.

0:26:450:26:48

Up in north-east Scotland, the village of Clochan

0:26:580:27:01

is home to our final nominees - Gordon and June Whiteford.

0:27:010:27:05

Gordon's nomination is the realisation of his lifelong dream.

0:27:080:27:12

As a new entrant, you can't compete with big farmers.

0:27:130:27:16

So you have to find other ways of doing it and find your own niche.

0:27:160:27:20

With no land to farm, and no bank who'd invest in him,

0:27:220:27:26

Gordon found a low-cost route into farming.

0:27:260:27:29

I started looking at hens because, hens, you don't need much ground,

0:27:310:27:35

and also a good cash flow.

0:27:350:27:36

As soon as you've got eggs, you've got money coming in,

0:27:360:27:38

you've got a product to sell.

0:27:380:27:40

Unlike starting off with beef and sheep - it's a very long period

0:27:400:27:43

before you're actually generating any money.

0:27:430:27:45

Gordon's wife, June, is an A&E doctor.

0:27:460:27:50

Here, Sky.

0:27:500:27:51

As well as looking after their 18-month-old son, Alexander,

0:27:520:27:56

she finds time away from the front line to help on the farm.

0:27:560:28:00

When I think back to when Gordon and I first got together in 2009,

0:28:010:28:05

it was completely different.

0:28:050:28:06

He just had 6,000 hens and a rented field.

0:28:060:28:10

From the beginning, they knew this life would be hard.

0:28:130:28:16

2009, obviously, the recession came along.

0:28:160:28:19

Organic egg sales really started to drop off.

0:28:190:28:22

We went from having a contract where our eggs all went off in that lorry

0:28:220:28:27

twice a week, to finding ourselves in a position where we were having

0:28:270:28:31

to build up our own customers and pack them ourselves.

0:28:310:28:33

So, every weekend, we were off at the farmers' markets trying to shift all these eggs.

0:28:330:28:38

Choosing the right hens was the first step in creating a successful business.

0:28:420:28:47

Gordon picked some birds for their special characteristics.

0:28:470:28:52

They're slightly smaller, they eat less, they're more

0:28:520:28:54

disease-resistant, and I think they're more suited to free-range.

0:28:540:28:58

They went out of fashion in the UK way back in the '60s and '70s.

0:28:580:29:02

And we were one of the first people to take white hens back into

0:29:020:29:05

free-range. Erm... Their eggs are actually a better quality.

0:29:050:29:09

The welfare of these birds is so important that Gordon has built a

0:29:120:29:16

whole playground for them.

0:29:160:29:17

If the hens are stressed, then we get poor-quality eggs,

0:29:180:29:21

we get wrinkly eggs.

0:29:210:29:22

I don't get paid for them. They're no use to me.

0:29:220:29:25

So it's good to give the hens something to scratch about in.

0:29:250:29:27

The more things you can give them to play with, to do,

0:29:270:29:30

to keep them occupied, the better, better welfare for the hens.

0:29:300:29:33

While his birds are having fun, Gordon can't afford the luxury of a rest.

0:29:350:29:40

Farming is 365 days of the year.

0:29:400:29:43

It doesn't matter if it's Christmas Day or you've got a wedding to go to.

0:29:430:29:46

The welfare of livestock is absolutely...

0:29:460:29:49

-Paramount.

-..paramount.

0:29:490:29:50

It's a bit like having children.

0:29:510:29:53

Not even their own child's birth warranted a break.

0:29:530:29:57

Alexander was born at two o'clock in the morning.

0:29:580:30:01

Gordon stayed with me for a couple of hours,

0:30:010:30:03

and then it was pretty much straight back outside back to work because it

0:30:030:30:06

was lambing time. So those girls couldn't wait either.

0:30:060:30:09

Thanks to his hard work, today, Gordon runs one of the most

0:30:130:30:17

successful independent egg farms in Scotland

0:30:170:30:20

with more than 14,000 hens.

0:30:200:30:23

Last year, we won the Scottish Egg Quality Awards

0:30:250:30:28

with our organic eggs, and we came runner-up this year.

0:30:280:30:31

We produce good-quality eggs.

0:30:310:30:32

We're always trying to grow the business and expand,

0:30:340:30:36

trying to add value to what we've got.

0:30:360:30:38

So we've just put in new packing shed up, and a new grader.

0:30:380:30:42

There's only about 13 machines of this size in the UK.

0:30:440:30:46

We first started grading eggs over a small table-top grader.

0:30:480:30:51

You'd put a few hundred eggs over it in an hour.

0:30:510:30:53

This thing can put 20,000 eggs over it in an hour.

0:30:530:30:56

I always laugh when I think back and it was all afternoon spent grading

0:30:590:31:03

four stacks.

0:31:030:31:05

And we thought that was us busy!

0:31:050:31:06

Better spending time with the hens, not grading and packing eggs.

0:31:100:31:13

You know, that's just taking away time from looking after the hens.

0:31:130:31:16

But the chickens were always a stepping stone to achieve something bigger.

0:31:180:31:23

In 2012, the opportunity of a ten-year tenancy came up

0:31:240:31:29

and it was a game-changer.

0:31:290:31:31

It's still quite a small farm, but it's, you know,

0:31:310:31:35

it's enough to do something with it and keep cattle and sheep.

0:31:350:31:38

We mill our own feed on the farm. So we grow a bit of that feed.

0:31:380:31:41

It eventually gets fed to the hens.

0:31:410:31:43

So it's keeping everything in the same loop.

0:31:430:31:47

It feels like a proper farm now, having cows on it.

0:31:470:31:51

Now we've got this fantastic opportunity, this farm,

0:31:510:31:55

we've added extra livestock, things have come on leaps and bounds.

0:31:550:32:00

And here we are, five years into our ten-year tenancy,

0:32:000:32:03

and I feel we're starting to outgrow this place now!

0:32:030:32:05

In total, we've got 70 ewes lambing in May.

0:32:080:32:12

We've got seven beef cows which are pets as much as anything.

0:32:120:32:18

And we've also got 69 dairy heifers which we bought as weaned calves and

0:32:180:32:21

we're rearing them up.

0:32:210:32:22

What we're trying to do is a mixed operation, and a bit of diversity.

0:32:250:32:29

His sheer determination to build something out of nothing,

0:32:340:32:37

despite the challenges, has made Gordon a natural nominee for this

0:32:370:32:42

year's Against The Odds award.

0:32:420:32:44

I think it's fair to say I'm very proud of what he's achieved.

0:32:450:32:49

It was one of the things that attracted me to him, actually,

0:32:490:32:52

it was just that determination that he had.

0:32:520:32:54

It's recognition for the hard work.

0:32:570:32:59

It gives the business more credibility,

0:32:590:33:01

it shows our customers that we're doing good stuff.

0:33:010:33:05

If we were to win the category, then it would be fantastic.

0:33:050:33:07

All five of these finalists deserve to win.

0:33:230:33:25

Their unwavering commitment to farming has encouraged them to

0:33:270:33:31

overcome impossible challenges.

0:33:310:33:33

And it's time to celebrate how far they have come.

0:33:330:33:36

Come on.

0:33:360:33:38

A prestigious award like this, winning it would be fantastic.

0:33:380:33:42

Come on, lads.

0:33:420:33:43

Everybody wants to win.

0:33:430:33:45

-You're in it to win.

-But we'll make sure we have a good night out.

-Yeah.

0:33:450:33:48

Looking forward to going out, it should be a good craic.

0:33:510:33:54

We don't go out very often, me and Mari, we don't have great social lives.

0:33:540:33:58

If we go out for a meal, it tends to be me sleeping on the table

0:33:580:34:01

by nine o'clock at night and her like this.

0:34:010:34:04

Sky, that'll do. Look away, look away.

0:34:040:34:07

I'm trying not to think about winning the award because, yeah,

0:34:070:34:09

it would mean... It would mean a huge amount.

0:34:090:34:12

I mean, getting into the final five, that's a huge reward itself.

0:34:120:34:16

There you go.

0:34:160:34:18

Yeah, I'll be happy enough with that.

0:34:180:34:20

But, of course, now that I'm here, you know,

0:34:200:34:22

the stakes have gone up a wee bit.

0:34:220:34:24

This year, it's Britain's second city, Birmingham,

0:34:410:34:44

that is hosting the British Farming Awards.

0:34:440:34:46

Over 700 farmers and industry professionals from across the UK are

0:34:480:34:53

coming together to celebrate their year-long accomplishments.

0:34:530:34:56

Places are filled, the stage is set.

0:34:590:35:03

We just need our special guests.

0:35:030:35:06

I love all the categories but I really do like

0:35:060:35:09

the New Entrants award because I can really appreciate the

0:35:090:35:12

struggles that these people have gone through.

0:35:120:35:16

I just admire their determination to make it happen.

0:35:160:35:19

That can't be underestimated. That is really something special.

0:35:190:35:23

Travelling from all corners of the UK,

0:35:270:35:30

our farmers are on their way to tonight's glitzy event.

0:35:300:35:33

Organic chicken farmers Gordon and June have swapped their farm scrubs

0:35:350:35:40

for more formal attire.

0:35:400:35:41

And even Alexander has made an effort.

0:35:430:35:45

Two or three days a year we get a chance to put the kilt on, so,

0:35:470:35:50

a bit of a change to get dressed up but I always feel comfortable in a

0:35:500:35:53

boiler suit, knee-height in muck.

0:35:530:35:56

More of a concern tonight might be staying up past bedtime.

0:35:570:36:01

All the way from the quiet and tranquillity of the Isle of Mull,

0:36:090:36:12

Iain has brought his partner Claire along,

0:36:120:36:15

but it's been more of a journey than predicted.

0:36:150:36:18

Not used to such a volume of traffic.

0:36:180:36:20

Traffic, three or four lines of traffic,

0:36:200:36:22

it's not that common in Mull, you know.

0:36:220:36:25

Any sort of traffic jam is usually caused by my cattle.

0:36:250:36:27

Dairy farmer Matthew Jackson and Mari are getting a much-deserved

0:36:300:36:34

night off from the farm.

0:36:340:36:36

Well, he's changed in the last few days so I think he's

0:36:370:36:40

starting to feel a bit anxious and nervous now about it, aren't you?

0:36:400:36:43

A little bit. Yeah. I'm a little bit nervous.

0:36:430:36:46

But that's normal, isn't it? It's a big deal, it's a big award.

0:36:460:36:49

For brothers Wayne and Elliott,

0:36:490:36:51

it's not only the farm they have left behind tonight.

0:36:510:36:54

My partner Suranna has had to go into hospital today to have our

0:36:560:37:00

third child, potentially. Definitely by tomorrow.

0:37:000:37:03

So I have to race back in the morning to see how that's going.

0:37:030:37:07

Nature farmers David and Rebecca are also expecting this evening.

0:37:090:37:13

We're having to drive home tonight, we've got a cow that's about to calve.

0:37:130:37:17

We've not got anybody helping at home.

0:37:170:37:19

We've got to come down here, do this, get back up there again.

0:37:190:37:22

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to take your seat.

0:37:270:37:31

-Cheers, everybody!

-Cheers.

0:37:310:37:33

Cheers. Have a good night. Behave!

0:37:330:37:36

As for our five entrants,

0:37:380:37:40

they've all faced an uphill struggle to get to where they are now,

0:37:400:37:44

making it a very difficult category to judge.

0:37:440:37:46

The New Entrant award is specifically titled

0:37:480:37:51

Against The Odds because we believe that new entrants coming

0:37:510:37:55

into agriculture face a huge raft of challenges, not just about sourcing

0:37:550:37:59

land and sourcing funding, but dealing with red tape,

0:37:590:38:03

with paperwork, kind of everyday issues that happen in farming.

0:38:030:38:08

We had to really work hard at narrowing the entries down to

0:38:080:38:13

eventually find the calibre and quality that each of the five

0:38:130:38:17

finalists offer this year.

0:38:170:38:20

Good evening, and welcome to the British Farming Awards 2017!

0:38:210:38:27

With dinner eaten, it's time for the main event.

0:38:270:38:31

Now it's the bit you've all be waiting for.

0:38:310:38:33

There are 14 highly competitive and prestigious awards to be given out tonight.

0:38:330:38:39

Plus prizes for runners-up.

0:38:450:38:47

With so many awards to give out,

0:38:490:38:51

our farmers can only wait for their category with anticipation.

0:38:510:38:55

I didn't think I would feel nervous, but I do.

0:38:570:39:00

But we'll just wait and see how we go, really.

0:39:020:39:04

What will be, will be.

0:39:040:39:05

-It's getting close now, we're getting a bit excited, aren't we?

-Yeah.

0:39:050:39:09

I've got everything crossed.

0:39:090:39:10

And finally, the big moment.

0:39:160:39:18

Our next award is the New Entrants award, Against The Odds.

0:39:180:39:23

Given the tough thing that it is to get into this industry,

0:39:230:39:26

we should give all of these entrants a really big round of applause to start with.

0:39:260:39:30

And here goes, the shortlist.

0:39:350:39:37

David and Rebecca Corrie-Close, The Horned Beef Company.

0:39:370:39:39

APPLAUSE

0:39:390:39:41

Matthew Jackson, Penllech Bach.

0:39:430:39:45

APPLAUSE

0:39:450:39:47

Iain MacKay, Torloisk Farm.

0:39:480:39:50

APPLAUSE

0:39:500:39:52

Wayne Sanders and Elliott Prettejohn, WE Organic Dairies.

0:39:520:39:56

And Gordon and June Whiteford, Highland Eggs Scotland.

0:39:570:40:00

And the winner is...

0:40:070:40:08

..Matthew Jackson.

0:40:120:40:14

CHEERING

0:40:140:40:16

Well done.

0:40:320:40:33

Absolutely never in a million years thought I was going to get it

0:40:460:40:49

because I was up against some fantastic competition.

0:40:490:40:52

And, yeah, I suppose this will boost my self-confidence.

0:40:520:40:55

None of our farmers will be going home empty-handed.

0:40:570:41:00

And for Wayne and Elliott, it's the runners-up prize.

0:41:010:41:05

We've come a very nice silver place, didn't we?

0:41:050:41:09

Tomorrow he's going to have another baby.

0:41:090:41:12

And I'm going to have to milk the cows.

0:41:120:41:14

I'm on two weeks' paternity so you...

0:41:140:41:16

You don't get that.

0:41:160:41:18

You don't get paternity leave with this deal we've got going!

0:41:180:41:21

Why not?

0:41:210:41:22

It's been an amazing night.

0:41:240:41:25

We're disappointed not to have won but we're going away feeling

0:41:250:41:28

positive about the future of our business and the future

0:41:280:41:31

of farming in the UK.

0:41:310:41:33

I'm going to go home absolutely enthused, energised and, yeah,

0:41:340:41:40

maybe I'll think of another category and compete again!

0:41:400:41:42

It's been a fantastic night tonight, with the creme de la creme of the farming industry here.

0:41:450:41:48

So you can't not learn something.

0:41:480:41:51

It's quite inspiring speaking to some of these people.

0:41:510:41:53

Alexander's kilt has certainly been catching a few of the ladies' eyes,

0:41:530:41:56

-it's fair to say.

-I think he's...

-Had a few compliments.

0:41:560:41:59

He gets the prize for the best dressed today, tonight.

0:41:590:42:01

Although maybe not now that he's wearing some of the chocolate

0:42:010:42:04

dessert we had tonight which was very lovely.

0:42:040:42:08

It's the end of the evening for some of our farmers.

0:42:080:42:11

But, for the others, the night is still young.

0:42:110:42:15

This award will follow me to one of the schools in Manchester where I'll

0:42:180:42:22

show them just what can be done and what you can achieve from, you know,

0:42:220:42:27

from humble beginnings.

0:42:270:42:28

Super-proud, I couldn't be prouder.

0:42:310:42:33

It's nice that all this hard work now has been recognised,

0:42:330:42:36

and he thoroughly deserves this award. So, yeah, brilliant.

0:42:360:42:40