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FARM LIFE: Emma Thomas

Emma Williams with newborn lamb
Emma Thomas farms at Tycoch, Clynderwen, Pembrokeshire, alongside her father and other family members. As well as the farm she runs her own floristry business, Sheep Shed.

Emma has also become a familiar voice at the Royal Welsh Show and Winter Fair, as one of the regular contributors on the English language commentary service on the S4C coverage.

Mae Emma Thomas yn ffermio Tycoch, Clynderwen law yn llaw â’i thad ac aelodau eraill o’r teulu.  Yn ogystal â’r fferm mae’n rhedeg ei busnes blodau, Sheep Shed.  Mae hefyd wedi dod yn lais cyfarwydd yn y Sioe Frenhinol a’r Ffair Aeaf fel un o gyfranwyr rheolaidd y gwasanaeth sylwebaeth Saesneg ar raglenni S4C o’r digwyddiadau.  

Describe your average day on the farm (and beyond).

Mae’n neis cael Ebrill mas o ffordd, mae hwnnw yn fis bach rhyfedd wrth i ni ddisgwyl i’r tywydd wella, i’r wyn olaf gyrraedd a’r wyn cyntaf dewhau!  Ni’n falch gweld mis Mai fel arfer!

At this time of year our days are mainly filled with livestock jobs.

It’s nice to get April out of the way as that’s a funny little month of waiting to turn cattle out, waiting on the last few ewes to lamb, and waiting on the first lambs to get fat – getting to May is nice, as the cattle go out and things start to happen on the fields.  We’ve spread the fertiliser on the silage fields and gotten the spring barley down.

Alongside the farm, I have a floristry business called Sheep Shed, preparing flowers for weddings and other occasions, selling bouquets to local customers, and I have a selection of flowers for sale on the old milk stand at the bottom of the lane. It started a few years ago – I’d always enjoyed doing floral displays and it blossomed (as it were) from there. It’s busy all year round, but particularly so from Spring onwards, with Mother’s Day, Easter and then the weddings over the Summer.

Emma Williams Sheep Shed Flowers
Division of labour on the farm – is it just you, other family members or staff, how do you work with contractors?

Fferm deuluol i ni yn sicr – Dad a finne yn bennaf, ond pawb â’i job.

We are definitely a family farm.  It’s mostly my Dad and me, he carries out most of the tractor work and I take care of the stock.  Mum is in charge of the ‘oen swci’ (pet lambs). My husband, Dai, helps out too, especially with the machinery, and in the summer it’s all hands on deck as we do the harvest ourselves.  We make all our own round bale haylage for winter feed, and also combine our own crops.

I have 2 sons – Rhys and Sion, who enjoy helping out and they’re at an age now when they can be very handy!

Emma Williams Farm Life Son

Balancing the work with Sheep Shed in the summer when weddings are at their busiest can be challenging – I’m fully booked for the months ahead – but I enjoy it and it’s very satisfying, and nice to do something totally different and have a creative outlet away from the farm.  It’s a real honour to be part of people’s special occasions too. 

Over the last few years, we have had contractors in for certain jobs when time or weather is an issue, like ploughing and sowing, and have a contractor for all our spraying work.  We like to do as much as we can to save on costs, but mostly it gives us the freedom of being able to harvest when it suits us.

How has the farm evolved over the years/generations?  What have been the significant changes you’ve made and why?

Godro gwartheg Shorthorn oedd mamgu a tadcu ond wnaethon nhw stopio yn y 70au…fi wnaeth gyflwyno defaid tua pymtheg mlynedd nôl…a dwi dal ddim yn siwr os o’dd hyn yn syniad da!

When my grandparents were farming they milked a herd of pedigree shorthorn cows, but stopped milking in the 70’s.  When I was a child we kept pigs, but then we just concentrated on beef finishing.

I introduced the sheep around 15 years ago – most days I can’t decide if this was a wise decision or not, but they have fitted well with our system of farming.

We now have 200 breeding ewes, finish 50/60 cattle a year and grow around 30 acres of cereals a year.

Emma Williams Farm Life Sheep Flock
Is there an item of machinery you couldn’t be without?  

Ni newydd brynu Polaris Ranger ac yn barod mae’n dod yn rhywbeth fydde ni’n gweld e’n anodd byw hebddo.  

We have recently purchased a Polaris Ranger which is fast becoming invaluable. I use it every day to go around/feed the sheep, and it means that I’m not using the tractor and loader – which would be my dad’s essential item of machinery.

Is there any item of machinery that has changed how you farm / made things easier?

Mae’r Ritchie Combiclamp yn helpu gyda trin y defaid – ac yn gwneud pethe’n well i’r cefn!

We have a Ritchie Combiclamp for handling sheep and it certainly makes life easier on the back!  

What’s the element of farming you most enjoy?

Gweitho gyda’r anifeiliad.   Working with sheep and cattle.

What’s the element of farming you least enjoy?

Mae’n gallu bod yn waith unig…rwy’n joio mynd i’r mart ac rwy yn credu bod ein marchnadodd yn ran hanfodol o gymuned cefn gwlad a lles cymdeithasol cymaint o ffermwyr.

It can be a very lonely job, especially in the winter when the days are short and weather miserable.  I do enjoy going to the mart and think our livestock markets are an essential part of our rural community, and so important to the social well-being of so many farmers.

 

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