ANN SEYMOUR CHARLIE’S YEAR
1 FEBRUARY– 1 MARCH
After a brief catch up in 2018, chewing the cud about friends and family Charlie told me how at the age of 21 he had been about to disappear to New Zealand to do a years' shearing, something he had dreamed of doing. However after his father had suffered a severe medical illness, and Charlie was suddenly thrown into full-time farming taking on the mantle from his dad. Not shying from the responsibility Charlie has to adjust to the role he may well not have had until later in life. Along with his sister Pip and mum Katherine the trio farm over three areas of farmland straddling the hills and valleys adjacent to the Black Mountains, it is both hard mentally and physically. As well as the farm he still finds time to run a successful shearing and dipping business. Many would have faltered; however, he strives on.
I talked to Charlie about my desire to work on a project within the local farming community that I loved. Having noticed Charlie had a keen eye for images and photography on Social Media that he took of his work life and work I broached the subject of a project. We talked about what I wanted to do decided together, to give it ago. Over a period of about 15 months, I tagged along with him as he went about his work. Sometimes the events were distressing as farming is not always the picture-postcard life we all imagine, but a story of trials and tribulations of the start of life and the end of life of the livestock they take care of. Combined with this is the management and working of the land to feed, house and maintain the flocks and family herd of cows.
Throughout this period I worked as a photographer alongside this young farmer capturing the daily goings-on of a Welsh farm in the Brecon Beacons National Park. In a challenging social, environmental and political era, farmers especially the young generation have tough choices to make whether they continue in the footsteps of their forefathers or whether to diversify and cope with an ever-changing market place, food-lifestyle and climate change. Never have farmers faced such challenging times threatening not only their lively hood and way of life but also living with it. The pressures and stresses of family life, the mental toll of hard winters, financial fluctuations within the market place all have an impact. I am very grateful to not only Charlie and his family for allowing me this insight but also to the many other contractors and colleagues who all played their part through the year and put up with me pointing a big lens in their direction.