A smile unfolds across Tom’s mouth when I ask for his email address and the words ‘Yogi’ and ‘bear’ come out.
“Yogi’s the name of my dog so I thought I’d have an email that I couldn’t forget,” he laughs, reddening slightly.
As we chat through family life, his four kids and four dogs come to the fore.
“I’m a big family man,” he says. “I’ve got Imogen who’s nine, Ollie who’s eight, Chloe who’s three and Meghan who’s five months. I’ve also got a golden lab, a chocolate lab, my partner has a kelpie and we’ve got a puppy too. It’s full on!”
But the reason Tom might look a little dazed this morning is not because of his newborn but an early hours emergency at the dairy. A cooling tank ruptured at the dairy and he had to build a pipe to syphon it out before it spoiled.
“It was a long night but that’s why living on the estate helps – we can react pretty quickly to anything and everything.”
Tom is the grass manager at Sansaw – his second stint on the estate.
“I left in November 2017 to manage a farm in Herefordshire but I came back in June. I should never have left really because I love it here.”
Originally from Nottingham, Tom started out in farming life at the tender age of 14.
“I was relief milking at 14,” he recalls. “I went on school work experience to a farm and got offered a weekend job at the end of my stint. I used to milk every other weekend which was fantastic when you’re that young and you’re actually getting some decent money in your pocket.”
Impressing quickly is one of Tom’s attributes, as he was also offered the job of assistant herdsman while at agricultural college.
Stints managing herds in Somerset and Wiltshire followed college, but Tom also added new skills in arable farming and tractor driving.
“I’ve moved around a bit but that never hurts in this industry,” he explains. “Experience is everything and it’s good to see how other farms work so you can always bring new ideas of what to do and, more importantly, what not to do.”
Of course, arriving as grass manager during one of the longest protracted dry spells in modern history has been tricky to say the least.
“It’s been pretty demoralizing if the truth be told,” he says. “If the grass stops growing then you have to stop grazing and resort to bringing in feed.
“Grass is the bedrock of Sansaw’s system so we have to be incredibly careful not to damage it through over-grazing, or getting the cows back on it too early.
Tom measures the grass growth across the estate’s 450 hectares of pastureland with a laser-guided system. On a normal day it averages around 50 kilos a day, but during the heat it’s been down to as low as nine kilos.
“Grass is our biggest resource but I’ve never had a summer like this,” he confesses. “The forecast looks to be improving in terms of rain but I’ve got to the point where I’ve stopped checking because it was sending me mad seeing all the sunshine!”
Tom relaxes more when we talk about his passion – Liverpool FC.
“I’m a huge fan and I’m pretty excited about the new season,” he smiles. “My dad and brother are big Reds fans too so it’s kind of in the family, bar my other brother who for some unknown reason supports Arsenal.”