It hardly feels like a month since I last sat down at my computer to write for The Courier. It has past in a blur of activity around the farm and beyond. The highlight for myself was a trip last weekend to the stunning Isle of Lewis. This came about when I was invited to judge an open stock judging completion organised by the Lewis and Harris Sheep Producers Association. Their hospitality and kindness was overwhelming and that, along with the stunning scenery, will ensure a return visit in the near future.
Scanning this year fell on the schools long weekend – an added bonus having willing volunteers and extra hands. A team from QMS filmed the whole day and showed the use of the drone and GoPro in making short films for social media. I must admit it made me laugh, us filming them filming us.
Our open day was blessed with perfect blue skies, winter sunshine and no wind which showed the north at its best. More people attended than we expected or booked, with over 160 turning up. Some of the locals appeared in for a look which caused the caterers slight alarm. At one point they were seen counting the numbers in the lunchtime queue and comparing it to the number of rolls they had left.
My efforts at frenzied cleaning were not lost on Iona, the organiser, who gifted me with a new broom. Manna from heaven for an OCD sufferer. I suspect there maybe a few visitors still trying to remove creosote stains from their jackets from inadvertently leaning on the slightly tacky rails in the fanks. Another one of my obsessions.
Team work, as always, was the key to everything running smoothly. Everyone had their roles to play in bringing the whole thing together and I am very grateful and proud of them all.
There is a strong line of women in our family and although both my grannies died when I was young, they left a very big impression on me. This has continued to be the case with my niece Frances, and I had no worries in asking her to be a tour guide on a trailer for the open day. Her trailer was the only one to receive a round of applause. The only other spontaneous crowd outburst that day came when my nephew Mure and his dog Fred successfully completed a clean shed at the dog trail display. It is always very important with twins to keep a balance!
I am in no way a bra-burning feminist and although it rarely happens, I am still occasionally asked, by an unsuspecting sales rep, ‘is the farmer about?’. I take great joy in saying “no sign of him today” and to call back some other time.
The other classic is the phone call looking for Mr Campbell. I never took Ian’s name when we married, so my truthful answer is, there is no Mr Campbell.
Although both light hearted examples, there are a couple of organisations and societies that I deal with which unfortunately feel to me still to have an archaic view towards women in farming.
Appropriately, as the saying goes, a new broom sweeps clean. I honestly feel that there are elements of our agricultural industry which would benefit immensely from the added perspective that a female view would bring to the table.
An example of this was how I let go of the reins of control and allowed Iona and Frances take responsibility of 160 visitors to our open day.