Auction marks the end of a family farming tradition

Steve and Sara Raven at their farm on Wisbech road, Westry, March. with equipment going up for aucti

Steve and Sara Raven at their farm on Wisbech road, Westry, March. with equipment going up for auction. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

A self-confessed 'workaholic' has been forced to sell his family farming business at the age of just 36 as he copes with a long-standing medical condition.

Steven Raven, a father-of-two who farms 1,200 acres of arable land around March and Emneth in east Cambridgsehsire, was diagnosed with type one diabetes at the age of four. Despite the condition Mr Raven was always keen to move into the family business, which was started by his father and mother, Michael and Susanne, in the 1970s.

The physical nature of the work and the long hours that it inevitably entailed meant constant monitoring of his blood sugar to ensure it did not drop to potentially dangerous levels.

Now Mr Raven has decided to retire from farming so he can spend more time with wife, Sara, 35, and children Katelyn, nine and Harry, seven – before the condition takes its toll.

'I'm something of a workaholic and I'm always busy,' he said. 'It's non-stop. I can't keep going forever and given my underlying health problems I felt it was the right thing to do.

'We're fortunate that I'm in a position to be able to say enough is enough. I've always managed my diabetes well. But I've heard stories of people overdoing it and passing away at a relatively young age. What's the point of retiring at 55 when I might not be able to make the most of it with my family?'

Mrs Raven added: 'Stephen's health is generally very good but if he keeps on working all the hours of the day, seven days a week something is going to give.'

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Mr Raven's father started the family business in the 1970s, when working for electronics firm Pye in Cambridge, beginning with just five acres of land. By the time he passed away in 2009 the enterprise had grown to 1,050 acres – including 450 acres of tenanted land.

Mr Raven, who grows a mixture of wheat, winter barley, oilseed rape and beans, said: 'My dad always wanted to follow his dream and be a farmer. I joined the business officially when I was 16, but I'd been working there since I was little. When dad died I took on the entire farm.'

Mr Raven repaired and maintained the farm's tractors, combine and lorry, and he also invented his own machines and attachments such as straw harrows, tractor weights and grain buckets. His most successful enterprise was a subsoiler cultivation machine that was taken on by an agricultural dealer and sold to a number of farms.

His farm machinery – which also include four Massey Ferguson tractors and a Case combine harvester – will be auctioned at an on-site retirement sale on April 8.

The farm sale is being held by Cambridgeshire auctioneers Cheffins at M & S Raven and Raven Farms Ltd, 433 Wisbech Road, Westry, March, Cambridgeshire, PE15 0BA at 10.30am on April 8.