The tups are out and it feels like work has eased a little on the farm as we slip into winter routines and the days shorten.
For me it’s time to reflect over the past few months and shift focus on to what lies ahead in the next farming calendar.
It’s certainly been a hellish time for people and businesses directly affected by coronavirus.
Some of the stories are heartbreaking, with personal and financial disaster.
Thank goodness there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon with the recent announcements of vaccine rollouts.
Despite the gloom there have been opportunities to be taken from the last strange few months we’ve all lived through.
I’m loving online events.
I’ve parked up my quad, put the dogs to their beds, pulled on my wireless headphones and sat down at my laptop.
I know there’s a lack of face-to-face interaction on these virtual gatherings, but on the plus side, I’m saving money on accommodation and not losing days travelling, both of which are drawbacks for participants living in remote locations.
This week I’ve cleared a day for the Sheep and Animal Welfare Group Conference 2020 which is covering a wide range of topics straight to my laptop.
It’s a good opportunity to learn, pick up new ideas and challenge my current thinking on sheep husbandry and health.
Although there’s been some coverage online of similar events in the past, I feel that the recent restrictions have polished the delivery and focus of the current lineups.
Last week the Farm Advisory Service ran a webinar, Bouncing Forward From A Crisis with New Zealand’s “resilient farmer” Doug Avery.
It was a timely reboot of Doug’s wise advice from his speaking tour of Scotland in 2018 on managing pressure, building resilience, overcoming adversity and improving your personal and business outlook.
The current pandemic, Doug advised, should be seen as an opportunity for change.
Those thinking that the world will return to normal post Covid-19 will be very unprepared. We should be using this time wisely.
I understand when friends tell me they’re Zoomed out and fed-up with the online meetings.
But for me as a farmer with dirt under my nails and living in the hills, the emergence of more online events has brought the outside world closer.
Over the past few weeks I’ve spoken to people including international peatland specialists and a livestock mineral expert via Zoom. I’ve been made to work differently and I’ve enjoyed and learned from the experience.
When we all finally get back to business as usual, I really hope that training providers and conference organisers will keep a blended online approach to ensure that bigger audiences and those on the fringes are better engaged.
The past few months have levelled the playing field for many. More of us living in remote communities, or with family care commitments have become involved with events or opportunities we would never have considered before due to time and travel pressures in getting away.
It’s great to feel more in the loop and, although by no means perfect, it certainly all feels more inclusive.
Joyce Campbell farms at Armadale on the north coast of Sutherland