Hoggarths Farm has been in the Calvert family for a hundred years. Raymond now runs the family business with his brother, Chris, and his son Andrew, and Hoggarths has been amalgamated with five others: Pry House, Harker House; Firs; Ellers; and Thorn’s Green. In total there is grazing land of around four and a half thousand acres, although only 550 of this is inbye – the rest is on Birkdale common.
The Calverts are well-known and highly respected for the quality of their pedigree Swaledales. This is Raymond’s main driver: the sheep that he loves and the fascination of breeding them. His sheep have done well in shows over the years. His highest ambition is to win the Champion award at the Tan Hill Show and this year he was delighted when Andrew won small breeders Champion. ‘If you can win at Tan Hill, you can win anywhere.’ He has been secretary of the show for thirty years, is a member of the Swaledale Sheep Breeders Association, and is involved in several other farming groups.
Raymond is not just proud of the sheep – he is also proud of the part that he, his family, and his forefathers, have played in shaping and caring for the Swaledale landscape. He is concerned, particularly with the political upheaval of Brexit, about the future of farming payment schemes, which give essential support for hill farming. He can see a keen and competent group of younger lads wanting to farm in the dale, and hopes they will be able to do that. ‘Those lads are the future for the survival of these upland areas.’