- Ciarán and Sarah Tully - farm owners (equity partnership)
- Nat Wareham - team member
- 105 ha (effective) - Thames - 310 cows
After running a 310 cow farm on their own for two seasons, Ciarán and Sarah now employ Nat Wareham full-time over spring and have never looked back.
The couple describe the benefits as “priceless”, saying they now enjoy more family time, improved health and wellbeing, lower stress levels, team support and the ability to work on their business strategically.
Ciarán and Sarah say their work-life balance has “improved 100 percent” since Nat joined the team and they have a better quality of life.
“When we were on our own, we used to go out and do everything ourselves and it generally meant that we were always tired and didn’t have any spare time,” says Ciarán.
“We now make sure no-one is working more than 55 hours per week – even during spring. We are conscious of the hours we work and keep timesheets for all three of us. It keeps our eye on what we’re doing and how efficient we’re being.”
Ciarán and Sarah say having a valuable team member like Nat who they can trust and rely on means they can go on holiday and be “worry-free”.
“Good people are priceless so it’s important to look after them and create an enjoyable work environment,” says Ciarán.
With three children, Declan (14), Liam (12) and Aidan (10), Ciarán and Sarah say their improved work-life balance gives them the opportunity to spend more quality time together and the flexibility to ensure the kids don’t miss out on any opportunities.
“They all have after school activities, so it means in spring, Sarah can come later to do the calves, and if Nat and I finish milking earlier, we can start on the calves for Sarah,” says Ciarán.
“There are a lot of kids out there who walk away from farming because they’ve paid the price,” says Sarah.
While Ciarán and Sarah initially brought Nat on board to help manage the workload, they say one of the greatest rewards has been the team support she has provided.
“From a personal point of view, we’re a big support for each other,” says Sarah.
“When you’ve had a hard day and something is getting to you, Nat is there to say 'come on, we’re the A team!' You just feel part of something.”
“There are going to be days when everything goes wrong,” says Nat. “Just having someone there to talk to about it, or laugh about it, really makes a difference.”
We'll often celebrate milestones with a meal out at the local pub.
Building a great team
The team agrees that good relationships are key to a happy work place. “It’s what makes everything else work,” says Ciarán.
“It’s a pretty essential part of the job,” agrees Nat.
“We’ll often celebrate milestones, such as the middle and end of calving, with a meal out at the local pub,” says Sarah. “It gets you off the farm and gives you something to look forward to.”
The team says good communication is critical to working well together. “Keep talking and state the obvious to each other – it’s simple but it stops mistakes being made,” says Ciarán. “If you don’t have trust, or if you can’t communicate with your team, it can result in disaster.”
Nat says having the opportunity to contribute ideas makes a big difference to her work satisfaction. “If your employer has the mindset that their way is the only way, things aren’t going to work well.”
Ciarán recommends having a plan, but not being afraid to change it if something works better.
“Nat brings different skills and ideas, and we’re happy to try them out. Being able to change and being open to new ideas is important. If you keep thinking like you always have, you’ll never move forward.”
Health and wellbeing
With three people on-farm over spring, the team has peace of mind that if one person needs time off or gets sick, they can cope.
“There is a lot of stress on farmers these days that there didn’t used to be,” says Sarah. “Looking after mental and physical wellbeing is really important to us. Always have food at the shed, stop for breaks, have a cup of coffee and something to eat to refuel and have some time out.”