Couple with shared farming dream take the plunge
- Credit: Isabel Mulock
Twenty-seven-year-old Abbie Bryant fell in love with farming while caravanning with her grandfather during the holidays.
Her partner, Andy Moye, 25, grew up with stories of herding cattle from his grandmother – who had been a herdswoman long before he was born.
This year, both decided to take the plunge and follow their love of livestock husbandry to farm full-time at Long Melford.
They launched A&A Livestock, a regenerative farm business selling grass-reared beef and lamb, in July 2020. They graze their animals over 45ha of rented pastureland.
“Neither of us are from a farming family,” explained Abbie, who grew up in urban Chelmsford. “I fell in love with farming as my grandad would take us on holiday around Britain and we’d stay on farmers’ land for cheap in our family caravan. I fell in love with the countryside, the animals and the lifestyle.”
Andy decided to follow in the footsteps of his great grandfather, a herdsman, and his grandmother and follow a career in farming.
He studied agriculture then worked on farms as a herdsman. After searching for a while he found a small patch of land to rent and bought five cattle.
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This year Andy and Abbie – who both wanted to be farmers from a young age despite not being from farming families – decided to devote themselves full-time to their dream career.
“I studied childcare at college as I panicked knowing I didn’t know anything about farming,” explained Abbie.
“I wish I’d studied agriculture also. I worked with children for five years but was miserable – I still wanted to farm.”
She met Andy through an online dating app. She “saw he had cattle and obviously swiped right”, she explained.
“On our first date we discovered we had the same dream – to have our own farm one day. A few months on I said: ‘Let’s go for it.’ We found more land to rent and got more cattle. Later on, we got sheep,” she said.
“We are both first generation farmers so trying to find land to rent was very difficult. As we didn’t have a farming family name not many people wanted to know.”
Having found a landowner willing to rent them land they have been able to expand their herd numbers, she explained.
And they have now managed to secure a place to live together after having to live apart during the pandemic.
“That was so hard,” admitted Abbie. “For the first few years we both worked full time as well as running our own business.
We found this very stressful. We have now both left our jobs and are farming full-time as well as having just moved in together.”
They became certified to sell their grass-reared meat to the public last year. They farm uses regenerative agricultural practices and do not like using chemicals unless they have to.
“We work with nature and not against it,” said Abbie.
“We believe soil health is key. Our animals are out-wintered all year and only fed grass and hay. We farm using electric fencing and move our animals every other day depending on the season.”
It’s a busy life. They have orphan lambs to raise and this spring they will be lambing and calving while taking on more grazing. They have 20 sheep and 15 cattle, and are about to take on 30 steers. They are selling their meat to the public – and struggle to keep up with growing demand.
“We love farming it’s what we’ve both always wanted to do. It has opened my eyes as to the challenges farmers face and how hard it can be,” said Abbie.
The pandemic has helped the business, as more people were starting to think about where their food comes from.
They have tripled their livestock numbers after going full-time and are feeling “very optimistic”.
“We plan to expand our numbers build up even more customers and take on more land to graze,” said Abbie.