The Good Life


Dean Bailey meets a new farmer who’s left a high-flying international career to make a very good life in the country

Winding through the woodland just south of the village of Wylam in the Tyne Valley it’s easy to see why Danny and Jane Turner traded in their careers in plant hire and administration in favour of the good life at Daniel Farm.

Home to free-range hens, rare breed pigs, cows, alpacas, goats and a bustling tea room and farm shop, it’s hard to imagine none of this was here two years ago when they took on this 100 acre farm, which by happy coincidence shares Danny’s name.

“I had a dream of owning a farm and couldn’t have found a better place for us to do it,” says Danny as we take it seat in the tea room he built on the dairy farm’s old slurry pit last summer.

“I’d worked in heavy plant on Siberian logging and African gold mining projects and achieved a lot, but I wasn’t nearly as happy as I am here.”

OJ6A4809With no livestock on the farm and its outbuildings falling down, the first priority for the Turners was getting the 17th Century farmhouse habitable. “It was a big project,” says Danny. “We started with the house, which hadn’t had a lot of love over the years and needed central heating and a new roof.” Getting the house ready to move into took six months before Danny, who had previously run his own plant hire business, got to work setting up the farm.

The 6,000 free-range hens are the core of the business and another 8,000 will arrive in April, “though I need to get back to putting the sheds up for them to live in,” says Danny, whose time is divided between running the business, building projects, learning how to rear his rare breeds, and being a farmhand.

The tea room is large yet cosy and attached to the farm shop, which is filled with produce from the farm and other local producers. “The tea room is flying,” says Danny. “People like our homemade food and the fact that we use everything we can from the farm.”

In addition to the hens, there are rare breed Belted Galloway and Beef Shorthorn cattle, and Tammworth pigs, and plans to introduce more breeds later this year. “These rare breeds aren’t commercially viable for big farms, but they produce fantastic meat, which is well worth the extra effort,” says Danny.

There are also plans for an animal park with alpacas, pygmy goats, donkeys and Shetland ponies, plus a miniature railway line.

“Starting with the chickens was a steep learning curve,” says Danny. “The amount of feed you need comes in by the truckload, for a start. But we’ve had some great help from local farmers and breeders who’ve shared their expertise with us.”

Danny and Jane’s son Joseph is studying agriculture at Kirkley Hall College in Northumberland and he shares his OJ6A4713father’s passion for farming, while their daughter Harriet, 12, isn’t a farm girl just yet. “She’s not overly fond of the smell,” admits Danny, who is clearly a man who has found, aged 47, his place in the world.

“It’s really amazing when you stand here and see what’s changed in two years,” says Danny. “I can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning and now, aged 47, I’ve got a new lease of life. I’m very lucky.”

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