CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe for £25 today CLICK HERE

A day in the life of an Arable Farmer

PUBLISHED: 18:30 05 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:30 20 February 2013

A day in the life of an Arable Farmer

A day in the life of an Arable Farmer

Continuing our series 'down on the farm', we meet arable farmer Bill Harbour to learn all about his typical working day

Name: William (Bill) Henry Harbour
Job title: Farm manager
Where: Gosmere Farm Partnership, Sheldwich near Faversham, part of the Lees Court Estate


What sort of farm is it?
Gosmere is one of several farms on the Lees Court Estate, which has been in the Sondes family for more than 700 years. Since the death of her husband, Henry George Herbert, The Fifth Earl Sondes in 1996, the estate has been central to the life of The Countess Sondes. Gosmere is, in effect, the home farm and is almost entirely arable.


At what age did you start?
I was so young I cant remember not being involved in the family farm.
I was brought up in Kent on a traditional mixed farm at Hoath and Chislet near Canterbury.


How long have you been in the farming industry?
I am 63 now and I cannot remember a time when I wasnt involved in farming, in some way, from when I was a very tiny child.

What training did you have?
I studied agriculture at what is now Hadlow College. I am a member of the Cantagrians, the college alumni society, and so I keep up with the college and with old friends.


What arable crops do you grow?
Gosmere is one of several farms on the estate. It consists of 950 acres and we primarily grow wheat, rapeseed, peas, Echium and linseed and also trial other crops. We concentrate on quality for example, all the wheat is used in bread. The Hard Red Wheat we produce is used by Rank Hovis in its traditional Hovis loaf. The Echium is mainly used in the pharmaceutical industries.

Describe your working day
I am out on the farm at 7am having had breakfast first. No two days are the same and everything really depends on the time of year and, of course, the weather. I might be drilling, fertilising, cultivating or simply loading up a trailer or lorry. There is always a lot to do, but the busiest time of the year at Gosmere is during harvesting and immediately afterwards when we begin the sowing. We sow the rapeseed in August or September and the wheat a bit later.


Tell us about the farm
Lady Sondes is very interested in the environment, conservation and sustainable management. We have planted a lot of mixed hedges and the headlands around the fields, which are wider than is usual, are only mown once a year. In 2008 the Estate was highly commended in the Most Beautiful Farm, Eastern Region awards run by Farm Business magazine. We trial and grow crops for the Seeds Project, which aims to attack poverty, and the Estate has also been involved in a joint research project with the Game Conservancy Trust and the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE).


Do you compete at shows?
We dont do much, but we won the class for the Best Sample of Milling Wheat at the East Kent Ploughing Match Show in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009. There was no show in 2007 because of foot and mouth.


Do you have children following in your footsteps?
None of my four children is involved in farming, but my two younger daughters are closely associated with land and the countryside. Ruth works for the Environment Agency and Jenny has begun a career with Natural England after completing a degree in Environmental Sciences.

Marks out of 10 for job satisfaction?
I have absolutely no hesitation in awarding a 10. For me, it is the perfect job. I cannot imagine anything which would give me greater satisfaction.

More from People

Kent Life meets some of the people working hard to save our historic vessels from the scrap heap

Read more

A scream pierced the foggy night, then all was silent, save for the sound of scurrying footsteps. Murder had been committed. Dare you read on?

Read more

Join us on a literary journey around the Kent coast to see how it has inspired writers over the centuries

Read more
Monday, November 4, 2019

Barn or castle, golf club or famous public school - the choice is endless for couples looking to tie the knot in Kent

Read more

Meet the young man determined to take his family's fruit and cobnut farm into the future

Read more
Thursday, October 10, 2019

Unveiled at the Turner Contemporary on 10th October, the new note will match the polymer £10 and £5 notes

Read more

Joseph Hewison on how his affinity with dogs led to a full-time career working with them every day

Read more
Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Community growing projects, from orchards to allotments and even hops for beer making are cropping up all over Kent

Read more
Monday, September 16, 2019

Freemasonry has existed for more than 300 years, welcomes men from all weeks of life and supports many charities - yet the myths persist. Kent Life finds out why

Read more

Giovanna Richards on the satisfaction she finds in volunteering for the charity Kent Search and Rescue

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life