Farmer Profile: Ant Heseltine

THE LOFT, HAWES

 


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Ant began farming when he left school. His grandfather farmed in Sedbergh but his parents did not farm – his father worked at Elijah Allen’s grocery shop (in Hawes). Ant gained his farming knowledge, and satisfied his urge to work with animals, working for Lambert and Moore – known better locally as Tom and Kit. From the age of twelve he used to go to their farm after school, and spend as much time there as he could. He bought his first pasture, formerly part of Crop Gill Farm, in his early twenties, and gradually increased his land.

Tom and Kit had a gentle and quiet way of handling animals, and Ant hopes he treats his animals equally well. He keeps around 260 sheep; mostly Swaledales, which are used for breeding gimmer (female) lambs for future breeding, and some Mules to breed fat lambs for the meat market. He also keeps Texels, and has 15 suckler cows. In addition to farming, he works as a fireman at Hawes and drives milk to the dairy for Barghs. He’s also father to three children.

Ant aims to keep his pastures and meadows as natural as possible, without any reseeding. His aim is to leave the land in better condition than he found it, but wetter weather over the last ten years, he thinks, seems to be decreasing the quality of the grass, and the coverage of ‘bedding’ or rushes is increasing. The wetter weather has also changed the success of hay making, and Ant tends to make more silo than hay. Each year, he adapts. He loves where he lives, and enjoys the coming of spring and summer, watching each year’s new lambs in the pasture behind the house and seeing the meadows come into flower.

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