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Farming: Teen takes over family farm after dad's stroke

BY: BBC
Ffion had to grow up fast, learning how to run the family farm

At 18, Ffion Hooson was a regular student at college, surrounded by young people her own age.

But her father had a stroke, which left her with the job of running the family farm on the outskirts of Denbigh.

Although she was studying agriculture, Ffion had not been heavily involved in the industry until her dad's illness.

Four years later, her day now involves milking and looking after 100 cows and sheep - with thousands following her journey on Instagram.

"It was a big responsibility, it was like I was thrown in at the deep end," she said.

"It was very hard. Because I wasn't involved so much when I was growing up, I hadn't learnt quite enough to know exactly what I was doing, so I was sort of thrown in. And I had to pick up all the skills and do it myself."


Her typical day begins with milking at a neighbouring farm before heading back to her 180-acre home, Segrwyd Isaf, and tending to 70 cows and 30 sheep.

In the middle of all this, she makes time for social media and connecting with people online has been essential for Ffion as the impact of having to work alone for hours on end took its toll.

"It was a big jump and it is a lonely job and it was a struggle to be constantly on my own," she said.

"I use social media a lot. I share my farming journey on there by posting pictures and sharing everyday life.

"I've grown a big following, so a lot of people are following my journey and learning stuff as well with me along the way.

"That helps and I've made friends from that. And I get to talk to people on there and learn stuff from them. I follow quite a few big farmers as well, so we get to talk through that, and it takes away that loneliness."

Ffion has 5,000 followers on Instagram and also uses Facebook and Twitter to connect with people.

There she also found mental health charity DPJ Foundation, set up in 2016 following the death of Pembrokeshire farmer Daniel Picton-Jones.

"I've followed them for quite a while now and I tweeted back in 2019, I think, about the struggles and the pressure," said Ffion.

"They reached out to me... and it made me feel, then, that I wasn't alone, and that it was OK to talk."

Loneliness is very prevalent in the farming community, she said, adding: "Because most farmers are alone doing this job for 24 hours, seven days a week.

"There is a lot of cut off and if you're not within social media... then I suppose you would feel even more isolated than you are normally."

At just 22, Ffion already has a few years' experience of running a family farm under her belt and, although it has been a struggle at times, she thinks young people should embrace careers in agriculture, but ensuring they take steps to look after their mental health.

"Make time for yourself," she said.

"Don't just focus yourself on the job. Do the job because it's an amazing industry and way of life, but make sure you make time for yourself on the side and talk to people."

BBC