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16 October 2014

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My Farm

By Arnold Pennant
April 2002, Tremeirchion
A digital story from Capture Wales

Selling up

Arnold Pennant is a farmer, working in St. Asaph, Denbighshire. He had to re-think his future plans because of the foot and mouth crisis.

"I was apprehensive and fearful as the day of my farm sale arrived one evening in early September last year... I wondered just what would happen afterwards.

In the beginning there were lots of cattle and sheep and large fields of golden wheat and barley but now everything was going to change forever. Cattle management had become a beurocratic nightmare after the Mad Cow Disease fiasco. Arable crops were no longer profitable due to globalisation... and then there was too many sheep, but I never really liked sheep because they were not friendly like cattle.

Fortunately, I did not sell everything in the sale, so this year I still have my tractor and the roller and a trailer... I have now even purchased a new grass harrow for my tractor and a little trailer for my quad bike. I only have a small number of sheep together with some rams, hens and cocoa.

My life was soon alive again with the return to college to learn about computers and I went to the health centre to loose weight but ended up getting fitter.

My time is now my own so I can go to the desert in North Africa and then to America, but the farm is still there and it is still mine. But other farmers now look after the animals and grow the crops whilst I can enjoy that lovely countryside.

Unfortunately, I was to become just another statistic to affect our farming industry after foot and mouth disease. Even my local livestock market is now just another supermarket.

My life has now changed forever, and I am happier in every way, but if every other farmer followed my example where would all our daily food come from?"

Arnold Pennant

What's your background?
I've been farming in the Vale of Clwyd for the last 30 years, but I've also been involved in political farming issues, such as foot and mouth, BSE and organo-phosphates. I have a daughter - Jessica, aged 23 - who's a pilot working for British Airways and a son - Thomas, aged 20 - studying Retail Marketing at Manchester University.

What's your story about?
My story's about how I gave up farming as a result of the foot and mouth crisis, but the main theme is about what I did afterwards and how it was beneficial to my lifestyle.

How important was it for you to create this story?
I chose this story because it covered an important episode in my life, which could so easily have not been documented. Because it was a contemporary story, it was easy to obtain a lot of photos and video material that worked effectively.

How valuable was your experience in the Denbigh workshop?
This was an enormously valuable experience to me, which did much to enhance my knowledge and understanding of the scope there is with this type of medium. The knowledge of the software I gained will be very useful in future and will enhance and complement a computer course I am currently doing.

What are you plans now? Any more stories in the pipeline?
I've been to the Community Studio in Wrexham, and when the summer holiday season has passed, I will try to undertake some projects which will bring other people into a medium which has proved to be very valuable to me.

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