Life down on the farm is recalled

A Northumbrian farmer has written a heart-warming autobiography about his farming experiences.

Philip Dixon carried on living life to the full despite many setbacks, which included losing the use of one of his arms not long after he acquired his first farm in Yorkshire the late 1970s and having his dairy business destroyed by his rivals’ dirty tricks.

And there are many amusing anecdotes in his book Dairy Cows and Duck Races – a Northumbrian Farmer Remembers. He started as an apprentice at Peepy Farm in Stocksfield. He then moved to North Farm in Whalton, owned by the Norton family.

The autobiography includes many interesting stories from his time at Whalton, where he worked under farm manager Tom Hall, such as the day when Princess Margaret and high ranking army officers attended a celebration event at the Manor.

One of the passages in the book referring to Mr Hall says: “In one way or another over the next seven years while we were milking together or handling the cattle, he managed to fine tune my senses to recognise a whole range of signs that would help me look after my future charges.

It included body language, behaviour, sounds, breathing and smells, recognising points in breeding cycles, sickness and mood swings. And yes, cows do have emotions. If you don’t believe cows have emotions, try standing between a cow and her calf with your dog on a lead.” Mr Dixon moved to Ashington Farm before heading south to Manor Farm in Meltham, West Yorkshire. He then bought his own farm, Upper House Farm near Slaithwaite in Yorkshire.

He later returned to the North East to form his own dairy company, Merry Dale Dairies in Consett, and he lived in Stanhope Castle, County Durham.

After his business was destroyed, he moved to Blaydon, where he worked for a time for the Associated Co-operative Creameries.

The humorous sections in the book include the time when a group of dairy cows thrived after Mr Dixon fed them on Cadbury’s Creme Eggs.

He was also part of the team that came up with popular annual duck races for the community and he recalls the challenges posed by their success.

Dairy Cows and Duck Races – a Northumbrian Farmer Remembers can be purchased in paperback for £11.99 and as an ebook.