A GROUP of young farmers from Herefordshire will be sharing the stage with the literati at this year’s Hay Festival. They were the stars of the feature-length documentary Tune for the Blood, which follows their lives as the young generation tries to carry on their family farms while coping with the pressures, changing markets and lifestyles of the 21st century.
Made by Cantilupe Projects and directed by Anne Cottringer, it will be shown in Hay’s Big Tent at 7.45pm on Friday, June 1, followed by a question-and answer session with some of those involved.
Among them will be Jono Rogers, a 28-year-old dairy farmer of Dymock, near Ledbury, who, like many in the cattle industry, is having to cope with Bovine TB.
The film follows Jono as his herd is tested for TB and found to have reactors. As a result, he loses the last of a line that was precious to him.
Despite the problems, Jono said: “There’s a buzz and a bonus in trying to breed the perfect cow that’s going to be more profitable, have fewer problems and produce loads and loads of milk.”
By the end of the one hour, 40 minute film, Jono and his family are having to consider the various options open to them in the future as they face up to the fact their 30-year-old milking parlour needs replacing.
Another of the stars on stage will be Fay Thomas, 19, of Hurstley Court, near Kinnersley.
“I’d like to think I can be farming in the future, taking after my mum and dad,” she said. “I love being out there really, but if you can’t make a living out of it you’ve kind of got to find another way around it.”
Although Fay’s heart is very much in farming, she studied floristry after high school as her mother Sue believed she needed to add another string to her bow, because in uncertain times farming may not be able to provide her with a living.
Now Fay uses her floristry skills at weddings and other events. The Thomas family recently planted a cider orchard to bring in extra income to their mixed farm where they rear sheep, limousin cattle and the occasional pig.
Is Fay worried about appearing on a famous stage? “Not really,”
she said. “It was fun when we did a similar thing at The Courtyard in Hereford and lots of people came up to me afterwards and said how interested they were in the film.”