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Modern day Land Girls run Dorset farm
A mother and her three daughters are giving a new meaning to the term Land Girls by taking over the running of a farm following the death of their husband and dad.
When farmer Michael Besent sadly died from cancer four years ago, his grieving wife Carol, 52, decided to carry on the family business rather than give it up.
And while mourning the untimely loss of their father, his three daughters backed their mother’s decision by going to work on the 700-acre mixed arable farm as well.
Now the four women are pulling up trees in the largely male-dominated farming community by making a success of the £1m-a-year business.
Carol runs the farm with middle daughter Harriet, who has a university degree in agricultural studies, and has roped in daughters Georgina, 28, and Katy, 21, for manual labour.
The four women are now in one of their busiest times of the year when they bring in the harvest of 250 acres of barley and wheat, a task that requires 14-hour days.
Katy operates the combine harvester while Harriet, 25, drives the tractor and trailer alongside it to take the yield of 400 tonnes of barley corn.
Georgina takes charge of milking the herd of 180 dairy cows and although modern machinery extracts the milk, it’s a job that still requires getting up at the crack of dawn.
Higher Melcombe Farm, in the village of Ansty, near Dorchester, was run by Michael’s father, Peter, who called the business Besent and Sons.
The irony of the name has not been lost on Carol who has considered renaming it Besent and Daughters but decided not to in honour of her late husband.
Harriet had intended to work on the farm and manage it one day after being taught the ropes by her father but she found herself thrown in at the deep end after he died.
She said: “It would have been easy to give the farm up after dad died but that would have meant his life’s work would have just gone.
“Carrying and sometimes struggling on makes us all feel closer to him in some way.
“I hope he would be pleased and proud of what we are doing and keeping the farm in the Besent name.”
Mum Carol said: “There is quite a troop of us. We are all blonde and all females and I think what we are doing has surprised quite a few people.
“Many people have been very supportive and have given us advice but farms aren’t traditionally run by women and some of the traditional farmers see things differently.”
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