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I like bags and shoes but I get more excited over my tractor; Stephanie Dick is one of a growing breed of female farmers who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty - or noses broken.

Byline: JENNY MORRISON

When Stephanie Dick was growing up, she dreamed of becoming a princess. Today, she has no interest in being belle of the ball, she wants to be the queen of the bull ring.

The ambitious 21-year-old is one of the nation's growing breed of women farmers. Latest figures suggest that Scotland has more than 6000, while the number of male farmers is falling.

Among her other duties, Stephanie looks after a herd of more than 800 cattle on her family farm.

And while there might be nothing glamorous about driving tractors, halter breaking young bulls and calving, she insists it is a great job for a woman.

Stephanie said: "I really wanted to be a princess. This job couldn't be further removed from that - but I love what I do.

"It can be physically tough - I've broken my nose twice and I've broken my foot too - but every day is different and I love the variety. One minute I could be bringing new life into the world, the next minute I'm involved in harvesting.

"I might be working in sleet and snow, or in glorious sunshine - but I love it all.

"I'd much rather be out in the fields than sitting in an office. It is probably not a job for the faint-hearted but I wouldn't swap what I am doing for the world."

Stephanie has followed in the footsteps of dad Ronald, 55, and grandad David, 80, in becoming a farmer and helps run the family's 3000-acre farm in Stirling She says many people were surprised that she and not her brother David, 23, joined the family business.

She said: "I did think about studying business at university, but farming is the only business I have ever wanted to do.

"My brother and I always helped on the farm when we were younger but he got less interested. He decided to become a doctor and is studying medicine.

"A lot of people find it unusual that it is the girl in the family who has become the farmer. There are not that many girls my age who are farmers but the number of young female farmers is I might be in sleet and definitely growing."

While many of her friends spend their weekends shopping and clubbing, Stephanie is more likely to be found in the fields tending the animals.

She said: "My friends have always been very understanding about my job, that it's not a nine to five. At the weekend, they tend to go shopping and I go to shows with my cows.

"My best friend is a beautician. We couldn't have jobs that were more chalk and cheese but she is from a farming family so totally understands. I'm not the sort of girl who gets excited about shoes. I spend most of my day in wellies. I do have a nice Michael Kors handbag that I love but I get much more excited about my tractor."

Stephanie says the highlight of her farming career so far was breeding a young bull which was named Junior Champion.

She said: "I have my own herd of Limousin cattle that I run alongside my dad's herd and I breed from them. The first bull I sold at auction made PS10,500, the top price given for a bull that day.

"The top price ever paid for a bull is PS146,000. My bull was a good start and I'd love to go on and beat the world record."

Stephanie, who starts work at 8am every day and takes her turn working through the night if one of her cows is calving, admitted she might get attached to her animals more than male farmers.

She said: "The cow I started my own herd with was a cow that I bonded with when she was a calf. I must have been about 10 and I had to bottle feed her.

"I've grown up with her and she was the inspiration for my own herd.

"It's probably not a good thing to get too attached to your animals but I'm totally attached to her and a lot of the others.

"They all have their own very different personalities and you can't help but be drawn to the characters."

Stephanie confessed that her size is the biggest hurdle she faces as a farmer.

She said: "I could do with a bit more muscle but if I'm having trouble lifting something, I can always use my tractor.

"The worst thing is my height. At 5ft 5in, my eyes and nose are in line with the top of all our gates, and if any of the cows get a fright when a gate is closing behind them, they will kick out and that means I get the gate right in my face.

"I've had two broken noses as a result, both of which were very painful, blood everywhere, but I've learned to be more cautious closing the gates."

Stephanie is looking forward to showing her cattle at this year's Royal Highland Show. Organisers say there is an increasing number of female farmers showing their animals and other produce every year.

Show manager David Jackson said: "We are now seeing more young women enter the family farming business and working towards taking over the reins.

"The Royal Highland Show reflects this, with around 11 to 12 per cent of exhibitors in our cattle and sheep sections being women who have entered on their own."

nThe Royal Highland Show will be at Ingliston, Edinburgh, from June 23-26.

'"I might be working in sleet and snowor in glorious sunshine - but I love it all. I'd much rather be in a field than in an office

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LEADING FROM THE FRONT Stephanie with her dad and grandfather at the family farm

herd girl Stephanie with her Limousin cattle at the farm in Stirling. She has sold one of her bulls for PS10,500 at auction
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 15, 2016
Words:990
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