I have two pieces of fish, an onion, an egg, baked beans and biscuits. Being a farmer means every day is the same
have lived in the Teifi valley, in west Wales, all my life: 72 years. I’m a farmer and look after 71 sheep. My boyhood was spent helping my family on the farm. I have never wanted to run away from it, even as a young lad. This valley is cut in the shape of my heart. I once visited a farm in England, about 30 years ago; that was the only time I left Wales.
Many of the friends I grew up with left to find work in the big cities. As a young man, I was offered a job in Scotland on the oil rigs, but I could never leave. My heart belongs here with the birds and the trees. I knew, if I left, I’d be thinking about my valley the whole time, so what would be the point? All I want is right here.
I have a routine, just like nature. That extends to what I eat. I’ve had the same supper for 10 years, even on Christmas Day: two pieces of fish, one big onion, an egg, baked beans and a few biscuits at the end. For lunch I have a pear, an orange and four sandwiches with paste. But I allow myself a bit more variety; I’ll sometimes have soup if it’s cold.
When I go to the supermarket, I know exactly what I want. I’m not interested in other food. I’ve never had Chinese, Indian, French food. Why change? I’ve already found the food I love. It would be a job to alter me. My uncle, a bachelor and farmer like me, had the same food for every meal. He had bread, butter, cheese and tea for breakfast, lunch and dinner (although he would bring out the jam for visitors).
Whether it’s Easter Day or Christmas Day, being a farmer means every day is the same. The animals still need to be fed. Feeding the sheep and seeing how happy they are makes me happy, too. They never ask for anything different for supper.
People might think I’m not experiencing new things, but I think the secret to a good life is to enjoy your work. I could never stay indoors and watch TV. I hear London is a place best avoided. I think living in a city would be terrible – people living on top of one another in great tower blocks. I could never do it. Walking around the farm fills me with wonder. What makes my life is working outside, only going in if the weather is very bad.
Autumn is my favourite time of the year, with all the colours of the leaves: it’s just beautiful. Cuckoos come here every April, and I look forward to hearing them. A lot of people, locals and birdwatchers, come here wanting to hear the cuckoo, but they don’t stop long enough; sometimes they don’t even leave their cars. This makes me feel so sad that I actually cry a bit; it pains me that others don’t get to enjoy it. I urge people to get out of their cars and walk up the road to hear the birdsong.
I’ve had several strokes. Once, I didn’t move for two weeks while I was in hospital. But my sheep helped me – I knew they were relying on me to get better. I need them as much as they need me. I have recovered now and am able to do all the jobs I usually do.
I never got married, and it’s not something that I’ve ever regretted. It just didn’t happen, and I can say with confidence that I am happy as I am. I’m married to this farming life. I live with my sister. Like me, she had a stroke, but she is no longer mobile. I try to look after her as much as I can, but she [ … ]