Say hello to… The Dodgsons
In this new series of blogs we will be chatting to a number of people who are key to the cogs turning at Cranstons – from our office team to our butchers, sales assistants and farm suppliers. We are kicking off with the Dodgson family, who have supplied Cranstons with quality lamb and beef for over a decade.
Mark and Rachel Dodgson live at Spital Farm near Kendal with their children Hannah, James, Katie and Ben and Kelpie puppy Jess. Mark’s family moved to Spital Farm in 1968 and the family has farmed there since. Rachel’s family had small holdings and livestock while growing up.
The Dodgsons farm around 260 acres split between four small holdings in the area. They have suckler beef herd and Texel X sheep as well as Katie’s small starter flock of 20 sheep.
We asked the family about their life on the farm…
Mark, what do you enjoy most about farming?
I enjoy rearing the animals from birth to finishing, we know every cow, calf and sheep on the farm well as we look after them day in day out, there is a real skill in getting the animals to reach their full potential, it’s absolutely key that they are well nourished and well cared for.
What is the biggest change you’ve encountered during your time farming?
Paperwork, everything involves more and more paperwork! Tending to the animals is what we love. The paperwork less so!
Does the whole family get stuck in on the farm?
Yes but they do enjoy it! Hannah’s started working at STB Accountants in Kendal and James is doing his A-levels this summer but they both help at weekends. Katie’s out and about before school with her new puppy and Ben helps me before and after school. Ben is into rearing his own calves, once we finish lambing he buys four calves and rears them on the bucket. He works outside in return for the calf’s keep and he gets the money when they reach maturity and are sold, I think it’s a good way to learn the economics of the job.
What do you do to wind down after a long day on the farm?
It’s kind of changing now but for years we have done supper, listening to kids’ reading, homework, bath time and bed, but they are getting older now and it’s changed to taxi runs to rugby training and young farmers! Family suppertime is a chance for us all to catch up with what they have all been doing either at school or work.
What’s your most memorable moment from your time on the farm?
Winning Kendal Auction Mart’s Fat Stock Show, out heifer was chosen as best in show at the marts prestigious yearly beef cattle competition.
What do the kids love the most about living on a farm?
There is always something to do, you never get bored – We love working with the animals and the freedom that comes with it and having some of our own stock to rear.
What does the future hold?
We would like to continue producing the highest quality food for local people first and foremost. Our animals are very well cared for and we sell them locally to quality butchers like Cranstons so they don’t travel far from the farm. I would like to pass down my farming knowledge which I have gained over the years down to our kids to help them farm in the future.
We are also opening a 20 pitch touring caravan site sometime this month. We have held rallies for years but as us Cumbrian’s know it can be very wet in the summer and visitors didn’t like to be towed off the field with the tractor! We have improved the facilities, putting down tracks and hard standings and hope we can now attract more visitors.