A Day in the Life with Karen Halton
This month we caught up with Karen Halton to find out just what it’s like to work at Halton Farms!
Here’s what Karen had to say!
What’s your typical morning routine?
I get up at 4 am, before I do anything I like to make sure I’m up to date with what happened overnight so I check the farm WhatsApp groups for all the latest news including any calvings. I have a coffee to start the day and then collect a couple of my dogs from off the sofas and head off to the calf pens. The first thing I do when I get there, is check all the calves have had a good night and are comfortable. I then collect the colostrum from the parlour in big yellow buckets. I stay with the calves until 7 am, feeding them, checking their beds and maintaining our high welfare standards. At 7 am I head inside to the kitchen where I met my husband Tom and some other members of the team for another coffee. It’s at this point that I do a handover to Grace my assistant calf rearer. It means that she can pick up the work in the calf pens and I can head off to the office for the next set of jobs. They consist of checking my emails, responding to any enquiries on social media and catching up on any paperwork I didn’t manage to complete the day before. I have breakfast with the team at 9 am, feed my dogs and then head back to the office for much of the day. No two days are the same, there are lots of different jobs that fall under my remit. As well as the farm paperwork, I have to manage the staff, pay wages, keep invoices up to date, have meetings with people from across the industry, the list is endless and varied.
If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Confident, positive and proactive.
What’s the first thing you look at in the morning on your phone?
The farm WhatsApp groups to find out of anything has happened overnight and make sure I know what to expect when I head outside.
What makes you most proud at Halton Farms?
The cows and the team. I’m also really proud of the great feedback we receive from our customers, both those who visit us at the Milk shack at the farm or those who get our doorstep deliveries.
What made you want to start bottling and selling your own milk?
We are so passionate about the product we work so hard to produce and we wanted to see the journey through from the cows grazing our grass, to the bottle clinking on the doorstep. We also wanted people to be able to see what we do every day, we are so proud of the way our teamwork so we wanted to share that with the public. We’re really proud of how we farm and our welfare and standards, we feel it’s right to be able to let people in to see it so they know all about the product they are purchasing.
What one key challenge have you had in your business, and how did you overcome it?
Volatility in the milk price, because sometimes it really holds us back. It stops us moving forward sometimes, we are brimming with lots of exciting ideas to help us adapt and improve but we can’t always do them when we want to.
The best piece of advice would you give to a dairy farmer looking to diversify?
Do your research, go with your gut and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. He who has never made a mistake has never learned anything.
Your favourite thing to do when not working on-farm?
I love to ride my horses!
The best piece of advice for managing a team of people?
Keep your head, keep calm and have the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes. Be fair but be firm and don’t expect people to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself. Create a happy culture, I always say thank you to my staff at the end of every day to end it positively, this way I know they’ll be raring to go tomorrow. We also think it’s important to make sure when there is time to have fun, we do. Make sure the good times are celebrated by the whole team and reward people for their achievements.
What An Insight!