By Katie Hunter, H&H Land & Estates:

I am a chartered surveyor with H&H Land & Estates and I am delighted to have been invited to write this Farming Diary. Although I am new to journalism, I am not new to the area, agriculture or the countryside, and I have been surrounded by farming all my life.

Originally from Gressingham in the Lune Valley, I made the move to Cumbria back in 2015 to move onto my husband’s family farm in Dent - along with my small flock of Herdwick ewes and my two pet Pygmy goats! The rest, as they say, is history.

Our farm is a small livestock hill farm with 300 Swaledale breeding ewes and followers and a small herd of predominantly Limousin commercial suckler cattle.

Following the retirement of my father-in-law, my husband and I now both run the farm whilst working part-time jobs - something I am sure a lot of farmers can relate to in an attempt to subsidise the on-farm income. I daren’t say the c-word as I fear all we read nowadays is about this awful virus and fears of more ‘spikes’.

The events of the year have, however, certainly brought a time for reflection. I am sure many agricultural enterprises like us must be asking themselves ‘how’ or ‘if’. And ‘can we keep the farm running for future generations?’

One very important subject, which is drummed into us at agricultural university, is that of business planning and succession. I am fortunate that this is a topic of discussion which is freely talked about within our family and therefore allows us to make provision for the future. Being a chartered surveyor, I know that, unfortunately, for many this is not the case, and succession planning for the next generation is often overlooked.

Landlord and tenancy matters are part of my role within the company and I have been involved in the letting of Tullithwaite Hall, a livestock farm, on a five-year farm business tenancy. Having received several tenders, what I have noted and want to highlight is the very high quality and calibre of these tenders. To me this really does demonstrate people’s keenness and commitment to getting their feet on the farming ladder and running their own farming enterprise. This is especially encouraging when taking into account these unprecedented, uncertain and changing times within the agricultural industry.

Part of my work also involves estate management and land sales, and currently we are experiencing a huge demand for all types of land and rural property. Having received so much interest, the recently-launched Longlands Farm near Cartmel has already been brought to a closing date and I am already working on sales for 2021.

I am on ‘holiday’ at the end of November and aim to get caught up on jobs and will be sorting the sheep for wintering.