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Bridgette's diary

Each month I write a diary article about my life at Windmill Farm for the village Montacute Magazine, and now I share with you, happy reading.

Bridgette Baker


JUNE 2024

We are well into summer now! Farmers have mostly collected in their grass silage, including us, and put it in the clamp ready to be used once it has fermented for a month. We do one cut of silage a year, this time we foraged on 11th June which is quite a late cut but it was so wet and miserable it took that long for us to find a dry window. We use contractors to do our silaging as we have none of the equipment ourselves, it is easier on our farm system to cut only once then let the cattle graze the rest through summer for us, rather than trying to get a second cut organised.

My Oxford Sandy & Black pig herd has been upgrading, firstly we are officially a registered herd with the British Pig Association, and we are called LotsofDots herd named after our one and only sow Dotty, who is registered on the pedigree herdbook as well as Patsy, Dotty’s daughter. Patsy attended the Sherborne Castle Country Fair on 27th May and won us a 4th place in the gilts born on or after 1st July 2023 class. It was a great opportunity to bond with Patsy and improve her friendliness as that was a big part that would dictate my decision on keeping her on for breeding as an unfriendly pig would be hard work to look after during their times of need during farrowing and feeding their piglets. Currently, it is hot, so Dotty and Patsy are extremely muddy from utilising their wallows and shade areas.

This month has also come with an unexpected opportunity to be a part of BBC Countryfile doing what they call a “postcard” section of the show talking about the family farm, links to Montacute village, and women in agriculture. It certainly is more difficult than radio, and I had to keep re-doing film takes as the lambs would “baa” or helicopters kept flying over from Leonardos. The episode which has more familiar village resident guests involved, will air on Sunday 7th July.

The cattle have been grazing fields successfully recently with the drier weather and some rain to keep the grass growing. We still have older cattle near finishing weight indoors to keep their condition up. Hopefully you will see drone footage on Countryfile of our cattle grazing on the farm, and a sense of what our farm looks like.

Lastly Windmill Agri meat sales has an exciting announcement – we are putting faggots back on the online shop! We are restocking on pork now and wanted to get this popular item back. As I type my parents are prepping the ingredients and learning how to achieve the best faggot. Bear with us as we are making these for the first time, however Mum has done thorough research and I feel confident these will be a great treat.


MAY 2024

As we are getting closer into summer, it means my favourite events start again - agricultural shows! Getting to see all the animals you could think of in one place is so fun to me. Cattle, pigs, baby goats, owls, alpacas, ducks, horses, and plenty more including dogs! Animal lover heaven.

For the last fortnight Mum and I have been training my best two gilts from Dotty’s litter to walk around a show ring with a board and stick as they are entered into our first actual show, the Sherborne Castle Country Fair Rare Breed’s show. I’ve wanted to show livestock for such a long time so I’m looking forward to it! These gilts are sassy and will have me and my boyfriend who is helping me on bank holiday Monday at the fair, looking a bit crazy!

Following on from my article last month, my sow Dotty is in-pig again, so she is on track to having them in July which is perfect to show the high standard pigs at Agricultural shows next year in the July born classes.

To arable, Dad has been doing some spraying of herbicide to kill off broadleaf weeds emerging, and admixture of magnesium fertiliser is added to the herbicide so Dad only does one coating of spray to his spring barley and winter wheat that will do two jobs. Our winter wheat crop has taken a hit due to the rain this year, however our spring barley is looking good!

Muckspreading and cultivation work has been done to one field that will be soon drilled with maize seeds.

Has everyone finished Clarkson’s Farm season 3 yet? I am close and what a great show it is again, with some sad scenes with Jeremy’s pigs which are the same breed as mine; Oxford Sandy & Black’s. I got the opportunity to talk on BBC Radio Somerset with Caroline Martin about the “Clarkson effect” that is making the British public more interested in agriculture including pigs and buying more British food from “Best of British” sections in supermarkets and online orders.

It's been a month of glam as on the 9th May I attended the inaugural National Women in Agriculture Awards in the house of commons, followed by a swanky after-party in the Marriott County Hall across the Westminster bridge, which overlooked the London Eye. I was a finalist in the “Rising star of the year” category and although not winning, it was an amazing experience, and new friends were made. 

Lastly, Sunday 9th June is Open Farm Sunday! Windmill Farm is not taking part this year unfortunately but our family relations in Yeovil Marsh are! They will be doing tours of their robotic dairy system, see the sheep and many more from 11am-4pm at Broadmead Farm BA21 3QD and I plan to be there at the Young Farmers Club stand.


APRIL 2024

Yay we experienced spring! For about a fortnight! Enough to get on top of our arable work finally, completing the sowing of spring barley and beans, as well as spraying the winter wheat fields to prevent diseases and fertiliser spreading the wheat fields too. Dad wanted a bit more rain to get the seeds to start germinating, and the rain has come so that is a great help as last year it went from wet to very hot and drought-like conditions quickly, therefore crops did not establish properly.

This month I have been learning about my sow Dotty’s reproductive cycle, learning there are 21 days between each heat (fertile period) for a sow. I’ve had to know this as Dotty’s boar-friend called Jack, the father of Dotty’s first litter, arrived with us on the 24th March to get her back in-pig. I had to monitor them closely to catch the service and I think he got Dotty in-pig on the 30th March. Jack then stayed for the 21 days until Dotty’s heat could potentially return and he could detect it for me. If Dotty is on heat, then the boar would follow her 24/7 and be very boisterous for two days and Dotty would tell him to go away. Then on the 3rd day she would allow him to service her, then the next two days she will beckon him away from her again.

Jack gave me no signs that Dotty was in heat last weekend as he had no behaviour changes, so he left on Tuesday 22nd April. It is a bit scary to make the call on if Jack is not needed with us anymore as it’s my first time keeping a boar, so I do have a pregnancy scanner I will use to double-check Dotty is set for a litter of piglets in July, so updates to come next month.

Young Farmers have their rally at the Royal Bath & West showground this weekend where clubs across Somerset compete against each other at tug of war, handicrafts, assault courses, and livestock entries. I have entered two of Dotty’s gilts, one of which I am hoping to register as a breeding animal.

Our Windmill Agri meat store has been well-supported recently which has been wonderful, therefore as we have done our usual abattoir trips, the produce coming back from the butchers is very needed to re-stock our popular meat choices. Fresh pork will be available next Saturday (4th May) from the boars out of Dotty’s litter born in October 2023, so the first ever born as well as reared pork for our meat sales. Next, beef will be available fresh from Saturday 18th May from one of our Belgium Blue heifers reared from a calf to finishing weight on our farm.


MARCH 2024

This month has been full of improving my public speaking skills as I was asked to do a few talks. The first one was taking part in a Young Farmers South West Area debating competition, where our team Somerset placed third out of six other competing counties. This is where I learnt to project my voice as we had a coach. Next, I did a talk on “What it’s like to be a FarmHer in 2024” for my old university (The Royal Agricultural University), as part of their Women’s History Month events, getting the opportunity through my appearance on Radio 4’s Women’s Hour.

After this I was invited by my Dad’s Auntie & Uncle to do a similar talk to the WI in Beaminster, therefore Nan (Beryl Baker) and I set off for the day to talk to them about women in agriculture today and issues in gender equality. We got brilliant feedback and a sense of girl power!

Then lastly as I write this today on 21st March, the class 1 students at All Saints Primary School have come to visit this morning! It was perfect weather, they were dressed in their best wellington boots and waterproof overalls and we welly walked all over the farm to feed the pigs, stroke the lambs (although I had to hold one for them to stroke as the lambs got shy!), and then lastly walked through the big cattle shed, which is certainly an intimidating situation when they’re large animals, but the children were good and learnt how to behave around cattle. It was great to open their eyes to the farming world, and before today I also got to visit Acorn class in their classroom to contribute to their project of “People who help us”, and they were also brilliant at asking me questions too.

Then amongst all this I got an email from the National Women in Agriculture Awards saying I was a finalist in their first ever awards ceremony, that will be held in the House of Commons in May. Many campaigns for women in agriculture have begun that are making great impact and is the reason I got to do three of the talks I’ve done so far.

Now quickly back to the farm, last month we were a month behind on farm tasks, now Dad’s managed to go muck spreading and sprayed off weeds in some fields, but that is all so Dad is feeling the pressure due to the rainfall to get his spring crops sown.



Spring is very much around the corner! We have had a few sunny moments between the rainfall. The weather has been useless to do any of the February farming tasks like muck spreading, fertiliser spreading, ploughing, which should all be near complete now but instead we are a month behind as we have not even begun.

The positive signs of springtime have been showing, Mum has recently bought her Texel X North Country Mule orphan lambs from our usual supply farm in Corton Denham, and the six of them have been brilliant to keep. We are using our ad-lib milk feeder (Ewe2 feeder) that lets the lambs feed themselves warm milk whenever they choose. Before we had the ad-lib milk feeder, we would have to bottle feed them three times a day which was time consuming.  

The wet weather and damp air have also been affecting the beef cattle; pneumonia cases in the calves have been frequently occurring, and calves that have experienced pneumonia in the past are getting reoccurrences of the illness again. A vet told me many other farms are experiencing this problem, so I am trying to hold on until the nice weather comes again and the calves will thrive in it.

Also this month, Windmill Agri online farm produce sales has been upgrading, purchasing a new electrical sausage maker and burger maker to be more efficient in our workload, plus have plenty of sausages and burgers ready for the BBQs in summer soon! The sausage makers we have had before were very tough to turn the handle, and my parents were exhausted after every making session. Now with this equipment, we will have more time to do things like test out new recipes for items like pork sausages. Mum has recently made a batch of sausages with a new seasoning mix including hints of pepper, nutmeg, and ginger for a plain sausage.

Lastly, my evenings are never free anymore thanks to Yeovil Young Farmers Club! We entered a young farmers Disco Dancing competition on the 18th February and we came second…the winning team beat us on cute factor as they were 11-14 age range and we were 17-28 age range on our team! However, we will be able to re-perform the dance again at our social evening we host to thank the friends and family that support our club.



Another year has begun, wishing everyone a delightful 2024! It will be my first year out of formal education, juggling Windmill Farm work with organising the Yeovil Young Farmers, however we will get through it all after a bit of experience since starting the role in September. Our young farmers barn bash party in December was a success, raising £2,000 for our club and chosen charities. Since then, we did some carol singing and a Christmas tree collection, raising another £350. Hopefully we can achieve even more this 2024.

My calf rearing for the 2023 herd has finished as I have reached over 100 calves bought-in and they are now weaned. I get a break until I start purchasing more in late summer/autumn time for 2024 herd. Winter is the time we sell on any cattle that have no more growing left to the abattoir as they will be fit for the beef market.

Alongside farming, in the last two months I have had two radio appearances. Firstly, before Christmas I appeared on BBC Radio Somerset doing a newspaper review; picking out any stories I thought were interesting in the local area, whilst trying to promote any hints to British Agriculture I could find! The next radio appearance was on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 on the 5th January. I was asked to discuss the topic of women in agriculture, after the Farmers Weekly magazine had published an article about their survey done every decade on gender equality in agriculture. Improvements in industry attitude has shown since 2014, such as more people would recommend a career in agriculture to a young woman. However, the 2024 survey saw a drop in the number of women who believed they were treated equally in daily work routines, such as influence on the farm business (46% in 2024, 69% in 2014), and family farm succession (36% in 2024, 69% in 2014). It is an uncomfortable and sensitive subject to discuss, especially for females coming from a farming family but being able to have a go and share this struggle many farming women face was an honour, alongside a great advocate Emily Norton, who is an agricultural commentator.

Lastly, as for the family meat sales business, we have recently had our first ever stockist of the Windmill Agri IQF (Individual quick freeze) traditional pork sausages - The Red Barn Farm Shop along the Mudford Road. It is exciting to get our name out there and be able to have our product displayed in a shop freezer. We have had a restock of beef, including many beef steak options and a NEW IQF Beef sausages range. Ready for Valentine’s season.



This month I turned 23 years old! It has been a month of getting stuck in with the winter routine of getting jobs done before dark, and trying to keep up with the Yeovil Young Farmers Club tasks now that I am chairwoman! We have a barn party on Saturday 2nd December so my thoughts has been consumed with planning, however I think we are set to go so hopefully we will raise lots of money to support our chosen rural charities.

My Oxford Sandy & Black sow called Dotty, and her 5 boars and 4 gilt piglets have been keeping me on my toes, they are growing like weeds and will be weaned before Christmas. The piglets steal Dotty’s food and are very demanding for her attention, therefore we have made her an outdoor patio where I can feed her away from her piglets and she can have a few minutes of peace, which she seems to love.

At this time of year people are getting Christmas purchases done, remember this is a great opportunity to support your local businesses, like finding local British turkey or other meat for your Christmas dinner. More of our Windmill Agri gammon joints will be available from Sunday 3rd December ready for your Christmas get togethers. Windmill Agri is open throughout the festive season for deliveries! Alternatively, make sure to look for red tractor logos on your meat at the supermarkets to support British Farmers this Christmas time.

Today on my dog walk I saw three deer, more commonly seen in winter months as there is less crop cover for them to hide in like maize or wheat. Then I see barn owls and our kingfisher has been visiting the bird hide, the wildlife is nice to see in winter.

On the beef animals’ side of things, we have 270 cattle which feels like a lot! They are slowly but surely finishing for the abattoir. Some suffered gut worm issues in September after the heavy rainfall on the grassland, and older animals have not gained enough weight over summer grazing.

We have been weighing them to get an idea of how we are progressing, and our Electronic Identification Tag scanning panel has been working good finally after Dad turned it the other way around, oops sometimes it’s just too easy of a solution.

Finally, the Baker Family and all our animals wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Keep your eye out for the New Year’s Day Tractor Run on the 1st January 2024, we passed through Montacute last year but a route has not been finalised yet for 2024. Once it is I will post it on the Montacute Village Facebook Page so you know when we may come through in our shiny tractors, last year there were 115 tractors!



It does feel like everything has been crammed into this month, but we are nearly finished and it’s time to reflect! On the 1st day of October spontaneity hit and I made a big move towards starting my Oxford Sandy & Black pig breeding journey by purchasing my first gilt! She was in-pig, and only two weeks away from farrowing (meaning giving birth). Her name is Dotty and she is part of a very rare bloodline called Sybil, with only around 22 registered gilts with this bloodline in the UK. She farrowed five days overdue on Thursday 19th October and it was an incredible night spent watching her birth these adorable piglets and making sure they are sucking colostrum. Dotty did extremely well as it was her first litter, so she has now upgraded from gilt to sow status (sow means a pig who has farrowed before). My family helped a lot with preparing for Dotty to farrow, emptying a shed and making a safe area for piglets to stay in with a heat lamp. On her farrowing night we checked her at 10pm and she had begun contractions, you can tell a pig is contracting when she lies flat on her side with back legs not touching the ground, and the legs are shivering. So we left her for an hour, came back and there were seven piglets screaming and walking in directions they shouldn’t be! Then a couple more piglets came at 15 to 30 minute intervals until we got the tenth and final piglet that was came out backwards, bum first rather than head first, however nature handled things and I did not have to intervene. Unfortunately, despite spending a long time trying to teach the piglets to go under the heat lamp, they would rather be near their Mum, and one piglet died which I think it was led on by Dotty accidentally, so now that they have learnt to use the heat lamp I feel more relaxed.

My sister and I also managed to achieve a surprise 50th birthday party for our Dad, Chris, with the help of our neighbours and family! Dotty was due to farrow on this night but thankfully she kept her legs crossed for five days more!

Now my sister, Leanne, is home a bit more, she has bought herself a farm cat which she has called “Just Ken”, or Ken for short. He is white and grey, similar to an old childhood cat we used to have! We had our annual farm assurance inspection on the 24th October so we can be Red Tractor certified, we passed nicely with a bit of updating of all medicine, pesticides, or rat bait records, before the inspector arrived. This Red Tractor symbol is for consumers to spot in the supermarket and know the commodity is grown under sustainable farming practises and high welfare standards.



On the day I am writing this, tomorrow is my graduation day! I am looking forward to it and have plans with family.  However I can’t help but feel dread going back to university even for just the day, as it holds stressful memories from third year dissertation!

As I moved on from university deadline pressure, it was replaced by agricultural journalism deadline pressure for summertime, writing harvest reports at the Farmers Weekly with the PR company I work for, Agri-hub. My last day was 12th September, so since then I have felt a bit more relaxed, away from frantically calling grain traders and farmers for quick interviews every Monday and Thursday. It has been a great summer, certainly kept busy and happy, which made post-graduation easier as I leave the uni routine.

As with harvest reports finishing, Dad also completed his harvest on 15th September with his seed beans, yields were average on all crops. It has been a difficult harvest for all farmers this year with wet weather during the sowing season last autumn and this spring, then having an early summer and wet weather during combining season. Our winter wheat was particularly hard to combine as it had lodged (gone flat because the plant died from the dry weather). Potatoes have started being harvested by our contract farmer a week ago, he uses our fields to grow them.

There is not much update on the Oxford Sandy & Black pig side of things. However, Mum and Dad have had a huge success making our very own Windmill Agri homemade sausages. The butchers we used closed down, and as we have been using other butchers, we could not get the same quality that we had before. Therefore, Mum has gone above and beyond to get the same recipe, sausage skins, rusk, herbs and spices mix as our favourite butchers used and made her own with our sausagemeat. We will have a restock on sausages at the beginning of October as we are currently sold out! Please keep updated from our Windmill Agri Facebook page on when they are available.

This September I have taken on the role of chairman for Yeovil Young Farmers for the new YFC year, I hosted a new members evening on the 20th September which was absolute chaos and made me gain a new respect for teachers! After that, I am quite worried for my year ahead, but they will keep me on my toes that’s for sure, and hopefully the club can raise lots of money for charity this year like we have always done!


JULY 2023

At the beginning of this month Agri-hub, my university placement from last summer, asked me to work two days a week writing a harvest highlights piece for the Farmers Weekly, so I accepted and have now been a part-time agricultural journalist and farmer for two weeks! The piece I write informs UK farmers on how cereal harvest is getting on across the country and talks to grain traders too on the qualities they are seeing.

Alongside doing this I have been calf rearing with Grandad and we have 25 calves currently that all came from our neighbouring dairy farm and are mainly Simmental x Holstein Friesian calves, except two Aberdeen Angus x Holstein Friesians. These calves were very nervous to begin with but now the calf shed is settled and everyone is healthy and happy. One calf refused to drink our milk powder drink for five days and eventually we offered it TESCO blue bottle top cow’s milk…and it guzzled it up easy! Luckily it caved-in to the milk powder drink eventually, or else that would have been expensive.

We also have two new pigs named Slash and Axl after the owls found under the pyramid stage during the Guns n’ Roses concert at Glastonbury. I collected them from our Oxford Sandy & Black breeder in Charlton Adam and during the visit I did browse a few of her breeding gilts and sows that are for sale and discussed possible plans for starting to farrow my own sow, but the plans are still in the pipeline yet. Our two British Saddleback pigs will be going to the abattoir soon, therefore traditional sausages will be back in-stock on our website by Tuesday 9th August. In addition, lamb is now back in-stock at Windmill Agri from chops, minced and diced lamb, roasting joints, and lamb burgers ready for the BBQ’s. Our orphan lambs this year have been great to keep and were very low maintenance, however we did have one wether lamb with a bit of horns, but he knew about it, and he would ram Mum and I constantly, so we were ready to take them to the abattoir after dealing with him twice a day.

Keeping busy, I did need a holiday so myself and Leanne (my sister) went on a weekend holiday to Cirencester, and we finally got to visit Jeremy Clarkson’s “Diddly Squat” farm shop! We had a brilliant time, we recommend getting in the queue at 9:30am as soon as the shop opens, then we waited forty minutes before it was our turn in the shop, obviously we bought the chutney, tote bag, chopping board, and a milk jug and it was so worth it. Then I enjoyed a Hawkstone cider at the bar and restaurant round the back, while Leanne had a chocolate milkshake from the farm shop.


JUNE 2023

What a great start to summer 2023, I have found out I got a first class in my Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture, very happy with this as it was my goal to get that result and I really didn’t think it was going to happen by the end with my dissertation struggle. Now to apply it in the real world…the degree may be most useful in deciphering new agricultural policies and sustainable farming incentives the government has made, so we can make the most of what is being offered as the new payments are not as much as pre-Brexit Basic Payment schemes were.

To begin getting myself back into the farm I started by pressure washing the entire calf shed and disinfecting the calf pens to stop diseases like coccidiosis (scours/diarrhoea) existing in the shed and reorganising the calf office area a little. I finally have my first four calves in residence all Simmental X Holstein Friesian that came from our neighbouring dairy farmer and they have settled in nicely so far, it is currently day three of them living at Windmill Farm and they all drank the needed 6 litres of powdered milk each today. There is a small calf in this group with very large googly eyes, she is a favourite already and behaves the best.

Our older cattle are rather lively and mischievous, Dad and I recently collected a large Belgium Blue steer from a neighbour farm holding after it had been grazing with his suckler cows…for maybe three weeks! Our steer loaded into our trailer nicely and Dad and I transported him back to his friends in the correct field after what we hope was an enjoyable holiday for him. The cattle will soon be coming in for their six month TB tests, so feeling lucky that the farm owners managed to get into contact with us before the cattle were taken in and we found out one was missing! More antics from the cattle also include breaking their plastic water trough during the heatwave weather, they now have a trusty metal trough to keep them hydrated and cool.

Crops are starting to grow rapidly ready for harvesting in July, August, and September. Not much arable work other than spraying the maize crops with herbicide to kill any weeds.

Our online farm produce shop will soon have fresh meat restocks on beef available from 8th July and lamb from 20th July with the return of lamb burgers ready for the BBQ season!

The Montacute Carnival was a great summer evening, our Windmill Lane neighbours got first prize with their Windmill Circus themed float which included ring masters, a lion in a cage, juggler, human cannonball and many more circus performers waving at the crowds!


MAY 2023

As I am writing this we have three contractors working on the farm today: three tractors cultivating, power harrowing, and drilling maize on ground we have rented to them, another tractor mowing our silage fields ready for the grass to be raked and collected tomorrow (Friday) to haul to our silage clamp, and lastly a tractor power harrowing over what Dad has ploughed (as we do not have a power harrow) which will be contract drilled using our own maize seed. The maize crop will be ready to harvest and clamp in September/October time for our own livestock to eat in the winter. So it is all systems go now the rain has gone!

I am thrilled to say I have completed university after sending a questionable final dissertation on 19th May, feels great to be able to archive all my work away and move on to staying home for a while at the family farm. I don’t have a solid plan of what will happen now, probably will work my way through this summer at home and see what is possible and what isn’t. My two university placements of tractor driving at Bakers of Haselbury Plucknett and agricultural journalism in Devon have expressed they would be happy to have me back, so I find myself in a very fortunate position.

Pig enterprises can also be planned out more now with this new free-time. Around the King’s coronation, Mum collected two more Oxford Sandy & Black boar weaners for me as I was at uni, and we have named them Charles and Cam. They are extremely sweet, and the farm was empty of OSB pigs for three weeks prior to their arrival, so I had missed some friendly orange pigs being around. Our first pair of Saddlebacks, we call “Oreo pigs” as they are black with a white belt on the back of their shoulders, are growing well and have become tamer with us, so they are a pleasure to keep. I do like them so far and it will be interesting to see how they will be on pork quality compared to my favourite OSB’s.

Our six lambs have got so big, and the flies have not been touching them during this heat so Mum and I did a thorough job applying the fly spray to their backs in March. They are very boisterous at feed time and the feed bucket needs to be held high in front of you, and a spare bucket needs to be carried behind your bum whilst walking through the paddock, so they don’t jump or ram you as the feed is poured in their trough. They are very pretty so they do make for nice garden ornaments as they relax in the shade.


APRIL 2023

Last month’s Montacute Magazine I was all typed out with uni and feeling sorry for myself, so I cheated and submitted a Farmers Weekly article so long time no update. Since then I have written my final column for the Farmers Weekly, thank you all for the support and encouragement over the last two years I have been writing for them, feeling grateful to have the Montacute Magazine still want my contributions to keep me writing about what is going on at the farm.

April has seen some beautiful spring days as well as a fair amount of rainy ones, therefore turning the cattle out for grazing has been later than previous years but they are all out happily grazing now on the drier ground. We can’t turn them out when the soil is still wet as they will poach the soil, cause a mess to the grass. This wet weather has been a difficulty on arable side of things as Dad has had short windows to cultivate and drill his beans and spring barley. The beans he drilled in March have become a crop failure unfortunately as the soil was too wet, therefore a last-minute bid to make use of the land has been organised for a nearby dairy farm to plant maize in the failed land.

Our light-footed lambs were turned out into the paddock above our garden in March and they skipped around in excitement, they are so strong and healthy. I had a great easter break having six cute lambs yell at me when opening the back door of the house, also Diesel our 10 year old Golden Retriever got his broken claw removed, so after four months of house arrest and being a cone head he is on long dogs walks again with his nephew our 5 year old Golden Retriever, and back to his normal fitness which is such a relief and joy.

My Nan (Beryl) and I did a talk for the WI about the history of Windmill Farm at the beginning of the month. I really enjoyed the night, the WI ladies were very welcoming, and everyone loved Nan’s life stories and her knowledge on the environmental improvements that have been added since the Baker family arrived to the farm. Then on 17th April Dad (Chris) went live on BBC Somerset with Claire Carter, adding to a new conversation the BBC has started on local environment, Dad talked about our lake, field margins and more environmental contributions the farm makes as he wanted to put agriculture into the conversation as commonly it is either not mentioned, or seen as the polar-opposite to caring for the environment, which is not always the case as farmers enjoy the countryside and is one of the reasons we farm.



As I am getting ever closer to finishing my degree in agriculture, my third year dissertation worry is beginning to kick in. I feel as though I am typing at snail pace, and it probably makes no sense. I have been soil testing to find out the carbon content of the semi-intensive grazing fields at our farm, compared to two other systems: intensive grass fields used for silage where animals do not graze, then extensive grassland grazed by animals all year round at low stocking density. I am hoping to be able to identify which system seems to be doing best in carbon sequestering and identify why.

At home we had new arrivals of six orphan lambs, the usual Texel X North Country Mules from Corton Denham, two wethers (castrated rams) and four ewes (girls). We have invested in a “Ewe2 feeder;” an ad-lib feeder so the lambs can feed on warm milk anytime of the day they choose. Mum has certainly been spared her time with this new system, as before the lambs were fed four times a day by individual bottles.

With this spare time we have watched all of the second series of Clarkson’s Farm this month on Amazon Prime, a must-watch funny series that shows Jeremy’s hard working neighbouring farms, and the current challenges they face from TB and price for produce. Dad disapproved of Jeremy and Kaleb’s health and safety practises when they use buckets and folks on their telehandler to work from heights, and do quick-fixes on cattle fences which results in an injury for Jeremy.

Furthermore, just as we thought Windmill Farms five minutes of fame on BBC Radio Somerset was over, on 23rd Feb Dad has again been on Claire Carters show as part of her new series as she drives different vehicles: from a lorry, a boat to a tractor and combine! So she had a visit to Windmill Farm again and seemed to enjoy her thrilling time driving farm machinery for the first time!

Today I’m going back to uni after a nice weekend collecting two Saddleback pigs, betrayed my usual Oxford Sandy & Black breed but change keeps things interesting. I’m taking my 10-year-old golden retriever Diesel with me to my no dogs allowed uni accommodation as I need the emotional support, and he needs an urban holiday away from mud. He is suffering with a broken claw after his mischievous rattling-the-garden-gate-to-escape-and-eat-cattle-food tactics have backfired on him.



The year started with a brilliant New Years Day Tractor Run which I hope people caught as 80+ tractors drove through Montacute, raising money for Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and Kingsbury Episcopi Primary School PTA. I was in Dad’s cleaned up New Holland 6070 and loved every minute cruising through the countryside. Plus with the mass of spectators it meant when the procession got lost, they could point where they last saw a tractor go, which helped slow coaches like me!

For the first week of 2023 we had our whole herd TB test, every animal on the farm was at the age of 42 days plus, therefore needed testing. We go through these tests every six months which is a new law that has replaced the original gap of every year for farms who receive negative tests. Luckily for us, we rarely get positives. In fact, Grandad reports only having a couple inconclusive results for TB in 2016. If farms have one positive/inconclusive test result of Tuberculosis, then the animals that have tested positive are slaughtered and do not enter the human food chain. The farm is shut down, and no animals can be sold on to other holdings even if they tested negative. The next two consecutive whole herd TB tests the farm faces need to be completely negative of TB before cattle movement restrictions can be lifted from the holding. The first test after a reactor test is in 60 days.

In other animal news, the OSB pigs have finally been doing well, after my current largest duo have had problem, with “Maize” catching a temperature and “Beans” becoming lame in a trotter. Luckily, we are happily on the other side of that now and they’re healthy and ready for the abattoir beginning of February. It is worrying when they become ill around a month before an abattoir date, as antibiotics have withdrawal periods on them to ensure no antibiotics are in the meat. Fortunately one only needed anti-inflammatories that have five day withdrawal, and I’ve learnt withdrawal periods for pigs are shorter than for cattle/calves.

This is our first month since last January where the farm has not had a visit from Anna Byles, our BBC Somerset Radio producer for the ‘A Year on the Farm” series we recorded throughout 2022. All twelve episodes can be listened to here:

We really enjoyed creating the episodes with Anna and have felt very inspired by the brilliant feedback from listeners intrigued from hearing what jobs are done seasonally in a year on a farm.



Last month one of my Farmers Weekly articles was published, therefore there is two months of jam-packed exciting university and farmers weekly events to update you on, however if you have been following our BBC Radio Somerset show then we explain what happened in October, if you would like to listen here is the link:

“A year on the farm” radio show is nearly up as we are heading into the last month of the year. It has been an incredible surreal experience to share what happens each month now on radio as well as in this magazine. For the final episode Dad and I are going to be live on Wednesday 21st December at the BBC Somerset studio, which I am very excited and nervous for as I like knowing they can edit out my stuttering on pre-record.

November is a celebratory month for me as it’s my birthday, but I also had the addition of being nominated at the South West Farmer Awards for ‘Inspirational female farmer of the year’, a flattering award to be nominated for and I had a lovely evening awards dinner with Nan, Grandad, parents and friends to celebrate. I had a camera crew come to the farm to film me with the pigs and let me introduce myself.

Obviously the Oxford Sandy and Black pigs looked stunning in the video, currently we have four pigs named Wheat and Barley, then Maize and Beans. Grandad has a lot of calves coming along nicely, the weather has probably been quite kind in terms of calf rearing as the mild consistent temperatures is what the calves thrive well in, calf jackets not needed. All cattle are back in the shed for winter eating stored winter feed of maize, grass silage, hay, as well as milled barley. We have been reducing concentrate feed as it has become increasingly more expensive. The animals love being bedded up with straw three times a week as they can kick and muzzle it around.

Our Windmill Agri pork stocks have been low recently but do not fear, we have restocks of fresh beef available from 8th December, then fresh pork stocks ready for Christmas by 23rd December! From date of availability, we keep meat fresh for 4 days before freezing the stock.

After last year’s successful Christmas open farm morning we will be holding one again on Wednesday 28th December from 11am to 1pm, wear suitable footwear and come meet the animals big and small, see the tractors, and the meat store will be open to make purchases; plus we finally have a contactless card reader!! Look forward to seeing you there.



I have started my final year in education at The Royal Agricultural University, which means the dreaded dissertation is upon me. The Oxford Sandy & Black pigs as well as the calves is something that must take a back seat for me now, I will miss waking up to feed them.

It has been a sad month due to the passing of HM the Queen, she showed great interest in animals and the agricultural community. After the funeral my Mum and I went on a walk to stretch our legs and met a couple people doing the same in the village.

Harvest was an early one throughout the UK, we finished combining our wheat in early August, last year we finished late August. The bean field has also been combined on 12th September and Dad is pleased with all of his yields this year. Our maize has been foraged and put into the maize silage pit on 23rd September, therefore harvest is officially safely gathered in for the year.

I finished my job at Agri-hub on 1st September, it was an amazing experience where I also wrote for the Farmers Guardian for the “Backbone of Britain” section, interviewing a 12-year-old young breeder of Saddleback pigs, as he has been very successful at agricultural livestock shows and has admirable dedication to conserving the rare breed. Whether journalism will be a career option alongside farming for me I am not sure yet, but it has opened my eyes to how hard the job can be.

We have four Oxford Sandy & Black boar weaners now all from the local breeder Tania Whittick from Charlton Adam, named seasonally Wheat and Barley, then Beans & Maize that both arrived on 20th September. Meat sales has been busy with re-stocks in pork and beef last week. With rising costs in butchery bills, we have slowly been doing our own processing. Bagging up mince into 500g bags as well as making burgers ourselves. They have turned out delicious, we use a few grams of pre-mixed burger mix with our already minced meat from the abattoir’s butchery. Having to make 100’s of burgers in a day really makes us appreciate our butchers!

The 79th Annual Yeovil Ploughing Match was held on Saturday 24th September, with over 70 entries, it was a great day for us as our crops won the crop competition overall, Dad (Chris Baker) came third in his commercial class, and I came first in the young farmer’s class. The weather was perfect, and it was great to catch up with so many people.

JULY 2022

When the Montacute mag article deadlines come around it is quite a stark reminder that you have finished yet another month of busy, exciting farming!

This month I have started my next placement working for Agri-Hub, an agricultural journalism and PR company in Devon. My first commission job is a double page spread in the poultry section of the Farmer Weekly with the deadline fast approaching, so the pressure is on, but I have been very lucky in my work placements so far that my co-workers and employers have been supportive and helpful.

 At Windmill Farm we had a whole herd TB test at the beginning of July, which we had a negative result on so happy days, BBC Somerset covered the day on the “A year on the farm” programme which you can hear by searching up this link: we also talked about how barley and potatoes were doing! There are also all episodes available at this link!

The Oxford Sandy & Black pigs are mainly looked after by Mum as I have been on placements for a while. We currently have four boars in residence so not so many as we were doing last year. Two were collected 24th July and are called Wheat and Barley, they settled into their pen instantly and have been so calm and friendly, although are so small that they keep squirming the front of their bodies through the stock fencing at feed time as though they’re threatening to escape!

Alongside working 3 days a week for Agri-Hub, I will also be on grain carting for Dad during harvest, it has been confusing adjusting back to the New Holland tractors at home again. I have become a snob after driving the Fendt’s for 3 months prior. Slowly getting back into the swing of the NH’s! The combine came out for harvest 2022 in mid-July for our winter barley harvest. All came in nicely, combine had an adjustment issue with the barley awns (Long needle-like blades that are around the grains) getting stuck in the thresher that separates the grain from the straw and ad-mixture.

The Windmill Agri meat sales have great August and September bargains while stocks last! Pack of 2 faggots for £1.25, honey roast sausages pack of 6 for £2, gluten free sausages pk 14 for £5, 500g sausage meat for £2.25, belly slab 1kg £3. Delivering to Montacute and surrounding villages free, ready for those summer BBQ’s.