Gemma Dobson is not from a farming background but she has been interested in the industry, and a little bit sheep obsessed from a young age - constantly pestering local farmers to let her 'help'. Gemma grew up in the North East of the United Kingdom and via a vet degree in Glasgow ended up in Lancashire working as a livestock vet.
It was here that she met her Husband - a shearer and sheep scanner who
kept a few sheep and cattle 'on the side'. Over the next few years the two begged and borrowed, rented land wherever they could, and built up their
stock numbers. "Folk call it 'farming tarmac', I think we did spend
more time driving between our blocks of land than farming on them!
With both of us working as well, life was pretty manic and not really
sustainable long term."
Gemma and her husband began to look for a farm tenancy and came across one in Cumbria. There were a lot of applicants but somehow they came through the interview process and are lucky enough to have a 15 year tenancy here. Nowadays they find that that kind of stability is a luxury for a tenant. "We did get married and move farms and counties within a month but that's another story."
The two still work off farm but they have everything outside the front door which they find amazing. They have suckler cows and sheep but they want to keep things sustainable so they have been paddock grazing and are working towards grass-fed certification.
"It's great to step out in the morning and have the stock right there. I recently became a mum for the first time and I can't think of anywhere better to raise our wee boy - I tell him how lucky he is every day (- he'll probably grow up wanting to be a townie)."
Forming a balance when working and living in the primary industries can often be difficult Gemma. However, you sound like keeping things sustainable for you long term is important and a way of life you have achieved. Good for you!