How it all began
One March day, I was in the audience at a panel discussion at the Borderlines Film Festival about rural perspectives which included a young woman, Christine Hope, who was there as a member of the Herefordshire Young Farmers Clubs.  I thought her input to the discussion was very refreshing and it made me wonder about the young people who might be involved in Young Farmers Clubs.  Around the same time, I came across a statistic - the average of the UK farmer is 58 years old.  I began to wonder, with so many farmers coming close to retirement, who would
The average of the UK farmer is 58 years old.

Only 3% of farm holders are under 35 years of age.

The price of farmland in England had more than doubled in the last decade to over £6,000 per acre. 

be around to farm, who would put food on our tables in the future?  It spurred me on to do some interviews with some of the members of the county young farmers clubs.  I found some very passionate, articulate young people who love farming and cared deeply about the countryside, but some of them were finding it difficult to stay on the land.  I thought the way to really find out what drove them and to find out what challenges they faced was to spend a year recording the experience of being a young farmer in Herefordshire.

--Anne Cottringer

Making the Documentary

Initially, I filmed a few interviews and a stockjudging competition, and although I had worked for broadcast television as a one-woman band, I decided another crew member would be very desirable.  I asked my husband, who is a professional cameraman, to come out do some filming.  Three years later he is still with me, and as well as shooting most the film, he has become the co-producer.

We began 'officially' shooting in May 2009 at the Federation of Herefordshire Young Farmers Clubs annual rally, the biggest day in the YFC county calendar  It was a gloriously hot sunny day jammed full of events:  sheep shearing, cheerleading, stock judging, cooking and video  competitions, and dovecote building  to name but a few.  With the 1500 strong disco and dance, the day stretched into the early hours of Sunday.

Over the following year, we followed a small group of young farmers, all from traditional family farms.  We recorded events in their daily working lives.  We got to know them and to respect their dedication and hard work.  Their early mornings meant even earlier mornings for us - if they started at 4:30am, we had to get up at 3am, but we only had to do it occasionally - they did it all almost every morning of the week. We experienced  glorious summer evenings, autumn days of mellow fruifulness, grimy rain-soaked mornings, frozen snow-covered hilltops and fresh green spring fields with the call of the cuckoo in our ears.  We spent afternoons in the intimate company of cows. It was a privilege to be 'out there' in all weathers with these young people and their families who were always willing to share their days with us.

During the second year, Richard Urbanski, an editor and film-maker with whom I had worked with on other documentaries joined us to edit the film.  But with over 150 hours of recorded material, it was my job to digitise, transcribe,  and log everything!! The glamour of it all.  That took months.  However by the time I finished I knew the material inside out.  Finally it was ready for the editor and I to sit down and work through the different stories.  Richard Urbanski brought not only a huge wealth of technical expertise, but an eye and a creative flair that helped to steer the film through the maze. Richard Branczik was on hand to view and comment.  Anyone who has ever edited so much material into a feature length film, knows this is a long, and often difficult process, and there were many paths taken and abandoned and to the grief of all, much material lost to the proverbial cutting room floor.  A year and many cuts later, we had the film 'Tune for the Blood'.

-- Anne Cottringer

Sources for the statistics above

The average of the UK farmer is 58 years old.
Only 3% of farmholders are under the age of 35.
(New Blood report-Alan Spedding)
The price of farmland in England had more than doubled in the last decade to over £6,000 per acre. (From RICS rural land market survey 2011)