Amy Geddes, Scotland
Amy Geddes (43) is a Scottish farmer and mother of two, living on the family farm where she grew up with her parents and brother. She never thought she’d ever take over the family business, and yet here she is, juggling being a parent with running a farm and trying to find the time to practise her hobby, horse riding, whenever she can.
The town of Arbroath, on the East coast of Scotland, is famous for its “Arbroath Smokies” or smoked haddock. Amy’s family runs an arable farm near Arbroath, where she grew up and finally returned five years ago with her husband and two daughters.
“I wasn’t ever destined to be ‘the farmer’”, Amy says, “I had a younger brother and so was never encouraged to pursue an agricultural career. I was ‘kindly dissuaded’, as I can best describe it. Girls didn’t manage farms. Until my late twenties I don’t think I appreciated just how many roles women now fulfil within the many spheres of agriculture, which I find really inspiring!”
Growing up, Amy always did help out on the farm at busy times such as planting and harvest, but eventually left home to study Rural Business Management in Aberdeen. After graduating, she went to work in a local surveyor’s office assisting with land and farm management: “I spent 15 years there and I learned so much! I appreciate now not having gone straight into farming, as a career outside of the family business gives a different perspective and skill set”, she says. Amy continued to help out on the farm whenever needed, though, and over the years her involvement increased so much she finally left the surveyor’s and took up the opportunity to farm full time.
Amy’s decision to move back home and take up farming coincided with her getting married, and shortly after, her first little girl was born. Five years ago, Amy’s family swapped houses with her parents and they have been living on the farm ever since. “My husband works away in his family farming business, while I work at home managing the farm with my two staff. It’s a busy hectic juggle much of the time, but I finally feel settled and confident enough to call myself ‘the farmer’. Juggling farming and being a parent is one of the most challenging experiences ever!”
However, Amy has another passion besides farming: one she now shares with her daughters. “I have been fortunate to be able to keep horses on the farm, a hobby which started when I was a little girl. I loved ponies and pestered my non-horsey parents until they finally gave in”, says Amy, who joined the local Pony Club aged 9 and “never looked back”.
“I loved competing, the camaraderie of being in Club teams, the adrenaline of riding x-country, the simple companionship and peace of riding a horse in the beautiful countryside on the farm. It is what has helped me through some tough times, providing solace, and reminding me how privileged I am”, she continues, explaining that she hasn’t competed much since her girls were born. “Free time is at a premium, but I continue to keep a beautiful if infuriating mare as well as a little pony for the girls.”
Both of Amy’s daughters of 6 and 9 share her passion for horses, have started attending Pony Club and competing. “They had great fun and success at their first show this autumn, and that gave me my competitive fix!” Keeping horses and riding is a hobby and a passion Amy hopes her daughters will enjoy as much as she does: “and in the years to come perhaps we will all compete together! But if we can enjoy the simple pleasure of riding round the farm quietly, observing the wildlife and checking the crops together, that will be more than enough.”
As teenagers, Amy and her best friend dreamed of going to America and driving cattle on a ranch in Montana, she reminisces. “We never did, but someday I’m going to saddle up, tip my Stetson, and ride off into the dusty sunset …”
Amy Geddes (43) is a Scottish farmer, running the family farm near Arbroath (Angus, East Scotland). Her husband is a farmer as well, and the couple have two daughters aged 6 and 9. In her free time, Amy practices horse riding, accompanies her daughters to Pony Club and their first competitions and works as a volunteer at the Royal Highland Education Trust. She talks about her daily life at the farm on her Twitter account.
This article appeared in Women in Ag Mag #3. Click here to read the magazine.
Text: Kim Schoukens
Pictures: Amy Geddes