While out of action for the best part of a week with a damaged knee, I learned three facts.

The first was that the NHS still provides an excellent level of service to patients despite the extreme pressure it is under.

The second was a Farmflix subscription is a fantastic investment, and does a much better job of fulfilling the values of “informing, educating and entertaining” than mainstream media.

However, the most significant lesson was to appreciate the support of being part of a family run farm. Despite being unable to work for a period, I knew that all duties would be carried out in as conscientious a manner as I would do them myself.

It is all too easy to take for granted the efforts of family members who work alongside you. We all can become frustrated by each other’s company, and it can be difficult for younger farmers who both work and live with their parents.

This photo of past generations on the McConaghy farm hangs in Robert's grandmother's house

After returning to farm from college or university a young person will obviously have new ideas which they will wish to implement, and may feel restrained by what can perceived as stubborn parent.

However, much of what can be regarded as stubbornness may in fact be imparting of wisdom from hard-learned and possibly expensive experiences.

While it can be difficult to tell at the time who is right when debating long-term, strategic decisions, my advice if your dad tells you “do not to go anywhere near the wet corner”, is to do as he says. Failure to take that advice will almost certainly result in a humiliating phone call requesting assistance.


Most of us wouldn’t have the farms that we have today without the sacrifices made, and support given, by our family members.

Therefore I look with great admiration at those new entrants to farming who have no family support and yet build successful businesses. Such people must have a tremendous passion for our industry. That enthusiasm can only help to strengthen the sector.


It is also easy to take for granted the efforts of previous generations.

A black and white photo hangs in my grandmother’s house. In it my great-great-grandfather can be seen with a shorthorn bull. The bull obviously was of great significance to be deemed worthy of photographing in that era.

This simple item inspires me every time I look at it. It reminds me of my predecessors who both lived and worked the same land, and were making the same efforts to improve herd genetics as we are today.

Farm features such as fully functioning stone drains created by our ancestors are also a living reminder of how generations past are still helping in the present.

Perhaps we all should appreciate the effort required to produce such projects many, many decades before the birth of Joseph Cyril Bamford (JCB).

We as farmers have a strong attachment to the land and the history that goes along with it. The insinuation made by many environmental groups that we are willing to sacrifice environmental and historic considerations in short-term pursuit of profit is clearly not true.

This is not only the place that we work, but also where we live.

We want to preserve what we have inherited from our predecessors, while also improving it for generations to come.

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