RUNNING the family farm beats commuting to London or being stuck in an office, according to John Lucas.

John, 56, and four of his five sons work the land at Higher Woodlands Farm, Isle Abbotts, regularly putting in 12-hour days.

They are kept busy by their 250 dairy cows, 2,000 goats and almost 200 beef cattle, not to mention 1,600 acres of arable land – half for wheat, barley, oats, beans and maize, and the remainder for grass.

“It’s hard work, but I love the life and wouldn’t change it,” said John, whose father farmed Higher Woodlands before him.

“There’s never a dull moment and always something to do, and I’d hate to have been in the rat race.”

But life on the farm is far from easy.

“It has been pretty tough at times,” said John.

“BSE hit us badly and farmers have TB to contend with these days, though, fingers crossed, we’ve been free of TB over the past few years.

“We’ve got different enterprises, which helps prop up other things if one isn’t going so well.”

Running a farm involves a huge investment with a combine harvester setting you back £¼million, while tractors cost between £60,000 and £70,000 – and John has five.

He said: “I think people’s perception of farmers is better than it used to be.

“With open farms they realise we’re not just here to make money.

“It’s important that we look after the environment to keep the countryside in order.

“I enjoy farming, but with four sons I hope one day to take things a bit easier, though I won’t be retiring completely.”