A letter to my Dad…

Award-winning broadcast journalist, founder of the Farmer In Mind Podcasts and farmer’s daughter, Rachael Brown, bravely puts pen to paper this Mind Your Head week to ask her own father to open up and share the load…

Dear Dad,

If only you knew how much I cared. If only you knew how much I worried. It’s exhausting. Worrying about whether you’re on top of everything, whether you’re eating ok and getting enough sleep. It saps all my energy, but at the end of the day, I can’t change – I will always worry about you.

For me, family is everything and always will be and whatever I can do to make sure my family is happy, safe and making the most out of life I will. Although terribly exhausting and means my mind is constantly put into overdrive mode, I do it because I genuinely care how you are doing and how the farm is doing. We all do.

I wish you knew that when I ring you every Sunday to catch up and see how you are that it’s not me nagging and trying to cause you stress.

When I message you late at night telling you to go to sleep because I can almost guarantee that you’ve fallen asleep at the kitchen table after dinner. It’s not me nagging at you. It’s your daughter worrying about you and making sure you are ok.

I don’t know what it is and given that I have met a few farmers during my life so far, I’m pretty sure you’re all the same. Most farmers for some reason have difficulty showing emotion or receiving affection – it seems so alien to you. The concept that someone is worried about you and wants to listen to your worries is something you find so difficult to imagine. 

You need to start trusting people and believing people want to help. Because trust me they do. You need to swallow your pride and start accepting help from those around you.

When I ring, text, Facebook message you, leave a voicemail because let’s face it I can never get through because the signal is so bad– it’s me asking you to share how your feeling, vent your frustrations, get your worries off your chest and to speaking honestly to me about what’s happening on the farm.

Trust me I’d rather know what issues are going on in your mind than worry about the unknown. For me my biggest worry is you having an accident again due to be overtired and overworked. I constantly worry what if you’re not so lucky next time.

The last year or so has been difficult, we cannot escape that. From TB, Brexit, crippling feed prices to the ever-declining milk prices… it’s been one thing after another. But we’re still here, we’ve got through and were even stronger, and even more resilient to what’s to come. And let’s face it the next few months are going to even more testing. But what you need to recognise is that you can’t cope with everything all by yourself.

I just wish you remembered that we’re so much stronger together. Let your family in, although you might not think we understand, we do.

I’m genuinely so proud to call you my dad and to say ‘my dad is a dairy farmer’. That sense of pride will never go away. But when I look at you, I see someone who is exhausted, physically and emotionally. Someone who’s struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel and questioning when, if ever will the stress and the worries go away. Although you will deny all of this, and don’t believe it’s true – you are a farmer who is now questioning why on earth am I still farming? Questioning where your love and passion for farming has gone. I’m not saying you hate each day, but I can tell those 4:30am wakeup calls are not as easy as they were ten years ago.

I then put the question to you is it all worth it? Is the stress and constant pressure really necessary? Maybe this is a sign that you can’t go on forever and that the time to take a step back might come sooner than you think.

I’m not suggesting you give up the farm, trust me I know that would drive you bonkers. But what I mean is you need to get more help on the farm, pass the responsibility on to someone else. You need to free up your time to go on holidays with mum, see your family and to generally just enjoy life a bit more. Because you know what Dad? You truly deserve it!
You are one of the hardest working people I know and it’s about time you started enjoying what life has to offer you…

I think that’s what truly scares me is that you will keep on farming to the point that you aren’t physically or mentally well enough to enjoy life and build memories with mum and my sisters. At that point it’s too late and you can’t turn back the clocks. Please don’t leave it to get to that point. It’s time to start thinking about your well-being and your happiness right now.

And… I can imagine you screwing your face up whilst reading this letter, due to you being uncomfortable and not wanting to face the truth. I hope someday you will throw away that stubbornness and pride and wake up to the fact that life is too short, and life is for living. And sometimes you need to accept help and support from others.

It might be painful for you to hear these words but it’s now time to start putting yourself and your family first rather than the farm.

Love Rach x

To listen to Rachael’s Farmer In Mind Podcasts, the latest of which, coincidentally, she does with her father CLICK HERE

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