‘I hate cows but I had to take over the farm when my husband lost half his foot’

Emma Oliver had, “always hated cows”, so it was a terrible accident that led to her taking on the role of a farmer.

That accident involved her husband, Andrew, who lost half his foot in a tractor accident two years ago. He was left unable to stand and take care of their cattle for just under a year.

So, in stepped mum-of-four Emma, who ended up switching from farmer’s wife to farmer during Andrew’s time in hospital and his rehabilitation.

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Andrew spent two weeks in hospital undergoing three operations and two blood transfusions all in an attempt to save his foot.

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“We were fortunate enough to have a close group of friends in the Gower that basically helped run the farm and do some help around the kids,” said Emma, 33.

“Once he came back home his foot wasn’t allowed to touch the floor, he relied on me for most personal care, everything except toilet duties. I then came to realise we couldn’t rely on our friends forever and it was time to face my fears of the cows which were due to calve.

“It was daunting to learn everything, I didn’t want to lose calves because it was our main income and I had to make sure Andrew believed it was going as well as it could without him being there.”

Emma and Andrew Oliver
(Image: Richard Williams)
Andrew’s damaged foot
(Image: Richard Williams)
And the boot he had been wearing at the time
(Image: Richard Williams)

With a trusted pair of walkie-talkies, Emma would talk regularly with Andrew over the back ends of cows as he tried to watch on from his window with their youngest daughter Lizzie by his side.

With Andrew set to rest due to doctors orders, the lambing season was also left in Emma’s hands and she found support not just from the Gower but also farmers across the country on Social media.

“I found a new passion for the farm and after having the challenge, I just wanted to be out there all the time,” said the Slade farmer.

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Emma left her previous role as a network marketer to help on the farm full-time. She had to learn to drive a tractor, digger and other farm vehicles, also get over her dislike of cows. She said she had even bought some of her own now. You can hear more about how she had to adapt in our video above.

And the experience has encouraged her to start a Gower Farmer’s Market Weekly to help support others.

“I’m passionate about where I come from and the people around me, they’ve helped us so much and it’s nice to try to help them especially during this past year.”

But she added: “You’ll never keep a farmer off his farm, as soon as he could walk again he was back to it. He’s always taken pride in managing to do things independently and he was worried if he would ever farm again.”

With Andrew having to adjust to a new farming lifestyle, the family now run the farm collectively in an attempt to help on the labour side.

Emma had to swap her car for a tractor
(Image: Richard Williams)
Here she is at work on the farm
(Image: Richard Williams)
The location is idyllic though
(Image: Richard Williams)

“The accident happened at the worst time, It was the busiest time of year for us and Emma was always scared of cattle. Both she and my eldest boy made me incredibly proud in keeping things running,” said Andrew.

“I’ve operated the hitch of a tractor hundreds of times, I don’t know what happened but my foot got sucked in and it was the worst feeling in the world, watching it and not being able to do anything about it, I thought I was going to lose my foot” said the 56-year-old.

The family have their own history of overcoming mental health issues which have helped Emma become a regional champion for The DPJ Foundation, a mental health charity that aims to raise awareness within the farming community.

“It could have been easy letting the situation get to us mentally and let everything fall apart but we got through it together,” said Emma.

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