Thwaite Head Farm sits high above the road on the northern side of Garsdale. It’s where Carol Moffat was born, and she farms here now with her mum, Anita, her dad, Brian, and her brother Phil. Her own young children help out as well. Their farming methods haven’t changed a great deal in the last 20-30 years, although the family is phasing out cattle. Their focus is on keeping a flock of 450 Swaledale ewes and breeding North of England Mule gimmers by putting the Swaledales to Blue Faced Leicester sheep, for sale to lowland farms.
The farm has land that Brian calls ‘catchy’ – about 100 acres of grazing land that is of low quality but suits Swaledales well. The family rent the farm on a three-generation tenancy, and also rent land elsewhere which they use for meadows and additional grazing. Carol likes every aspect of the farming year, and takes great pride in seeing the livestock do well. She also works as a coordinator for the Farmer Network. Her role includes engaging farmers in group buying of fuel to reduce costs, and exploring ways to improve soil health and landscape resilience and reduce the risk of flooding through the Flood Facilitation Fund.
Carol thinks there is a lack of understanding about what farming entails, and where food comes from. ‘It’s the people in the cities that we need to connect with. I think we should involve more schools in getting them out into the countryside, especially inner-city schools. If they came out and spent a day with a farmer, I’m sure their perception would change.’