CW88 – Reconcilation: Rural Roundup

Owls lifting spirits

By Elspeth Taylor, Home Farm, Gloucestershire


We have a 200 acre farm just on the English side of the old Severn Bridge, in South Gloucestershire, 150 beef cattle, and 150 breeding ewes (Charolais/Texel).

Having struggled to make hay in these crazy weather conditions, my husband Robert spent all day turning, and we managed to bale late into the night. The rain then hammered down, with the bales still in the fields! We were unable to haul the bales up as we were also TB testing, so our days were completely taken up with driving cattle up from the grounds, and the usual 72 hours tense wait, to see if we were clear. By Friday we were exhausted, constantly getting soaked, and Robert got kicked hard on the knee by one of our cows during the test, so was limping!

Later that day he called me, very excited – he had just been standing under a tree in one of our fields, heard a chirp, looked up, and a pair of barn owls and chicks were sitting looking down at him from the branches. We have longed for barn owls to breed on the farm. but haven’t even seen one here for 25 years. What a great gift from God to lift our spirits, carry our weary bodies, and lighten our steps through the day, after a really tough week!  He always knows the precise moment when we need a little miracle to perk us up and appreciate his creation.


‘He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms

and carries them close to his heart; He gently leads those that have young.’


Isaiah 40:11





CW83: Food ethics

Most of us who live in the countryside are conscious that there is a story behind everything we eat. But that story is becoming confusing as media soundbites repeatedly tell us that meat (particularly red meat) is either destroying the planet through its emissions or making us ill.

CW83: Let the land produce

We are intrinsically linked with the soil, certainly from a biblical perspective. In Genesis, God reminds us that we were made from the soil (Genesis 2:7) and that it will become the source of our food. We are explicitly told to care for it (Genesis 2:15) and in doing so live out God’s original call to us as human beings.

CW83: Rains from Heaven and Fruitful Seasons

Only a livestock farmer will fully understand what it means to have to sell up their herd or flock. In the spring of 2004, the day after the auction of our cattle, I stood in the yard and prayed. The particular smells and sounds of dairy cows were absent for the first day in generations, and added to the financial pressures of the tenancy was the strange guilt that after so many years I was the one who had to leave the dairy industry. But I had trusted in Jesus for long enough to know that God can use our failures and disappointments to bring about what he really wants from us. So began a new adventure in farming the particular way in which the Lord led.

CW79: Lord Plumb – A farmers life

Lord Henry Plumb has been described as probably the most important person in agriculture of the last one hundred years. Alongside a farming career spanning almost eight decades he served as Vice President and President of the National Farmers’ Union and as the only British President of the European Parliament. In November 2017, aged 92, he retired from the House of Lords. Country Way editor Louise Davis went to meet him on his farm in Warwickshire.

CW77: Farming isolation: a personal perspective

Susan Atkinson, a farmer in Leicestershire, reflects on her first-hand experience of farming isolation.

Our farm is situated between three villages. When I first met my husband in the 1970s all three villages still contained working farms; now there is only one farm left, plus a couple of ‘retired’ farmers who still keep a few animals.

CW75: Brexit: A time for unity

In the last twelve months, Brexit has come to dominate our public, and often our private, discourse. With polarising rhetoric and binary choice between ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ it has left fault lines running through communities across the UK. George Dunn, CEO of the Tenant Farmers Association, considers how churches might respond.

Harvest Praise

A Harvest service of thanksgiving that involves the presentation of gifts

Farmers Harvest

A Thanksgiving service for Farmers at Harvest. This service also involves the presentation of gifts as an offering.

Plough Sunday Service

A traditional plough Sunday service.