He gets up to tend to his animals at 6am everyday and at the age of 90, Steve Green, who is thought to be Britain’s oldest working farmer, has no intention of slowing down.
As well as a life of graft on the farm near Thirsk, Steve and his wife Jean, 67, have appeared for the past four years in The Yorkshire Vet television series, which documents the working lives of rural vets Peter Wright and The Yorkshire Post columnist, Julian Norton.
The couple won viewers’ hearts when they appeared on the show at a crisis point on their farm. Mr Green was ill and in hospital for a hernia operation and their daughter Sarah, 35, was sidelined after damaging her spine, and so Mrs Green took the “heartbreaking” decision to sell the farm’s lifeblood dairy herd.
Since diversifying into trading in calves, the couple have remained regulars on the show as customers of Mr Wright, who has been their vet since 1982.
Such is their popularity that the Greens star in a special episode of the Channel 5 series tomorrow night (March 5) as they renew their wedding vows after 40 years of marriage.
Ahead of the broadcast, The Yorkshire Post visited the Greens and they reflected on their TV careers and farming ‘journey’.
“It didn’t catch on at first, no one bothered about us and then it suddenly took off,” Mr Green said of the attention they have had since appearing on TV.
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Mrs Green said the first time she was stopped in the street was by a woman from Kansas, USA who watched the programme, and that they often receive fan mail and gifts.
“Everything anyone sends we keep,” she said. “We get sent so many pictures of cows we don’t have room to put them all up.”
A farmer for 75 year, Mr Green said his path in life was always clear.
“I was born into farming and never thought about doing anything else. We say we will do it as long as we can.”
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Affectionately called “The Boss” by his wife, Mr Green was born in Whitby and moved to the 40-acre farm his father bought near Thirsk for £2,900 in the 1940s, at the age of 15. The family ran 13 dairy cows but since the farming has changed dramatically.
Mr Green said: “It all used to be horses up on the hills. We ploughed with horses and made a right good job of it, and we used to sort corn by hand.
"The job was all walking. It wasn’t as bad as you might think. There were no fat farmers then!””
Mrs Green, 67, was born in a wooden hut next to Mr Green’s father Stephen’s farm after her father joined the Army and was billeted in temporary housing.
When she was 27, one of her brothers who worked for the Greens, told her Mr Green wished to court her.
Their first date involved them working together at hay time and three months and 10 days later they married at St Mary’s Church in Thirsk.
“Everybody said it wouldn’t last,” said Mrs Green, who as a keen cook, added: "The best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach... We are happy go lucky and we love each other.”
AFFECTION FOR ANIMALS
Real animal lovers, the Greens have 18 cats, including 27-year-old Katie, a dog and two donkeys.
Despite her affection for all creatures great and small, Mrs Green used to be “petrified” of cows.
“I don’t know why,” she said.
Having gotten over it, Mrs Green, who helped her father carry out logging as a child, “didn’t need any telling” when it came to joining her husband at work on the farm, Mr Green said.
The Yorkshire Vet: The Greens’ Story is on Channel 5 on Tuesday, March 5 at 8pm.