Having spent 56 days in the Love Island villa, Will Young’s departure from the show in March looked very different to that of his co-stars. As they soaked up the post-show parties and glamour, Will was back in his wellies on the family farm.
“I’d entered during pre-lambing season, which is very intense, so there was no easing back into farm life when I came back,” he laughs. “As soon as I landed, I went straight back into 15/16-hour days to help with lambing. I think it was my dad getting his revenge for leaving him to look after 300 lambs.”
After appearing on the winter edition of the reality series, Will, aka Farmer Will, has hardly been out of the spotlight. In addition to finding love with Jessie Wynter, the 24-year-old has reached 1.9 million followers on TikTok, 727,000 on Instagram and he’s set to attract even more interest with the release of his upcoming book.
Despite his new-found fame, Will says that his family farm is where his heart lies. “I love the farm. It’s weird having my dad as my boss, but I wouldn’t want to have it any other way,” he says.
Even now, Will continues to work at least three or four days a week on his family farm alongside dad Andrew and older brother Thomas, calling it “the best of both worlds”.
As a sixth generation farmer, Will’s farm was founded in 1870 and the Youngs are the only family to have ever called it their home. While he admits that farming life can be “difficult”, he knew he’d always return to his roots, regardless of what other people thought.
“I don’t think my dad truly believed that I’d come back to the farm. For him to see all the opportunities and fame that came with the show, he assumed that I’d leave for that new life,” Will tells us. “But the farm has always been a part of my life, so I wasn’t going to give it up. Without it I wouldn’t have gone viral on TikTok and without that I doubt I’d have gotten on Love Island. It all comes back to the farm.”
Of course, Will’s heart also belongs to girlfriend Jessie, who lives on the farm with him – although the pair are reportedly saving to buy a house of their own. Will has also recently hinted he is “creeping up” to proposing to Jessie after admitting that he can envisage spending the rest of his life with her.
The 26-year-old Australian isn’t afraid of getting stuck in, either, and the pair often post adorable pictures with the animals on Instagram and videos on TikTok – including posing with their two baby goats, which Will bought her instead of a dog!
“I’ve always wanted someone I could bring back to the farm and I don’t think I could’ve found anyone better than Jessie as she was brought up in the Australian countryside and loves being on the farm,” he says. “My mum didn’t set foot on the farm in the first 10 years of her relationship with my dad, so seeing Jessie want to help out was amazing.”
With life as a farmer seeing him juggle tasks such as rescuing sheep from lakes, giving vet students a helping hand and filming educational content for his TikTok, Will’s had to make some important decisions regarding the direction of his career in the public eye.
“I’ve had to turn down jobs because of the farm as that’s my No1 priority,” he explains. “If a job comes up that I can’t t in alongside my schedule or doesn’t align with the farm, then I’ll turn it down.”
In fact, his appearance on Love Island once hung in the balance. “Before I got the phone call that said I was going to fly out to South Africa [for the show], I hadn’t taken the prospect of going on seriously,” says Will. “The first thing I did was have a sit-down conversation with my dad. It wasn’t like I could leave my job and call it quits – I needed a replacement. If I couldn’t find someone to take my place, I wouldn’t have gone on it. The farm was more important than Love Island.”
Keeping it real
Will calls being a farmer a “lifestyle” rather than a career, and he’s keen to raise awareness of mental health in the farming industry – especially as 88% of farmers aged under 40 recently reported poor mental health as being the biggest hidden issue facing farming today.
“As a farmer, you’re very isolated and it can get quite sad because you can go hours without any human interaction,” he says. “I find that speaking to the animals can help as it gets my emotions off of my chest and animals are always going to be judgement free. Music is a big thing for me too and listening to ABBA helps improve my mood.”
Despite his life as a so-called “farm-fluencer”, to his family, Farmer Will is just the same old Will who spent his childhood playing hide and seek. “My family don’t treat me any differently for going on the show and my dad isn’t afraid of teaching me some important life lessons,” he says.
“One Christmas Eve, I went on a night out and came back really early in the morning. I overslept and my dad threw a bucket of water over my head to wake me up. He wasn’t best pleased,” Will adds. “Now he charges me a week’s wage if I don’t turn up. At the end of the day, these animals need us. It’s not like I can miss a day and expect nothing to happen.”
With Will’s book For The Love Of Farming set to hit shelves soon, the future looks just as bright. “I’d love to stay in the UK, but Jessie comes from Australia. If one day we end up living over there, I’d start up a farm. If we had kids, it’d be a dream to get them involved with it to continue the legacy,” he says.
“As for the farm’s future, I’d like to get more people interacting with farming and I’m keen on setting up a glamping site here. I do a lot of filming on the farm for social media, so a TV show would be amazing.”
For The Love Of Farming: Farmer Will’s GuideTo Life In The Fields (White Lion Publishing, £18.99) is out on 19 October
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