Myfanwy Lloyd Evans
Dolgellau, Snowdonia National Park
Beef & sheep
BEEF & SHEEP, NORTH WALES: Myfanwy farms with her husband John on a 700-acre (283-hectare) hill farm in the Snowdonia National Park, at the foot of two towering peaks - Aran Benllyn and Aran Fawddwy. The farm has been in John’s family since 1777.
They have a herd of 22 Limousin beef cattle and 450 breeding Welsh mountain ewes, and use Aberfield and Blue Faced Leicester rams to produce fat lambs that grow well, even in harsh mountain conditions. The sheep are hefted, which means they know their territory and do not need physical boundaries to keep them in. This knowledge is passed from ewe to lamb each generation. The sheep learn where good grazing and shelter can be found at different times of year. Lambing is late - in April - to ensure better weather and enough grass for the ewes to eat. "The weather in March can be bad," says Myfanwy.
Myfanwy is passionate about preserving the farm's fragile upland environment, so is careful not to overstock, and to farm extensively rather than intensively. She has planted hedges and trees, and created ponds, to help the area's biodiversity and leave the land in a good state for future generations. "We took over the land from John's parents. But we don't really own it," she says. "We are only caretakers so we need to do our best for the land and the community. It's up to us to leave it in a better state than we found it in."
Myfanwy also has a flock of free-range laying hens, producing eggs for the family and guests staying in the three holiday cottages on the farm.
The cottages are one of many income streams that Myfanwy has created. She set up a caravan park and also runs a cookery school in a converted barn called Cookaway Cottage (Bwthyn Bwyd). It was initially aimed at schoolchildren but is now popular with adults - including fellow farmers' wives - looking to improve their cookery skills. Myfanwy runs workshops in bread and pastry making, baking, preserving and marmalade making, and also demonstrates how to turn the less glamorous meat cuts, such as breast, heart or cheek, into delicious stews or roasts. She teaches felting, weaving and wool crafting too. These projects started small but, today, agri-tourism and farm education provide vital income for the farm.
Myfanwy gave up a career in teaching to work on the farm and raise their three children. She is a dairy farmer’s daughter and feels a deep connection to agriculture. She says: “Despite the ups and downs, farming runs in my veins. Animal care and animal welfare have always been my passion. It’s not a job or work at all – it’s in me.”
Member of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and North Wales Women’s Farming Group.
Interviewed on Ffermio (S4C - Welsh language rural affairs TV programme).
Featured in the Farmers Guardian and Daily Post talking about the cookery school.