Last Thursday proved to be a red letter day for our village.
I came back into the farm steading after being out on the hill to hear my phone going off in my rucksack.The EE mast which had been erected over the winter had gone live!
Unbelievably full bars and 4G showing on the screen. I was the able to ring out and receive calls even from our old barn with its thick, stone walls.
I’m sure there are plenty of folk out there who would be delighted not to be bothered by the phone ringing and demanding their attention, but for me this is transformational to how we run our business.
I am able to deal with emails and calls as they come in rather than searching for a signal at the top of a hill, nipping back to the farmhouse to try and link into our still unreliable broadband or playing catch-up in the evenings with messages and emails.
By linking my computer into my phone’s hotspot I can now update our website easily without the broadband dropping out. And downloading the digital edition of The Courier online takes seconds rather than all morning.
It’s great to actually be able to utilise the tools we currently have but have not been able to fully exploit due to the lack of connectivity.
Many of us involved in agriculture spend much of our day, if not it all, working alone.
The safety net of a reliable mobile coverage is a real progression and a weight off the minds of our families who often worry where we are. Let’s hope more of these mobile blackspots which blight so many rural communities can be quickly eliminated.
We recently had a LANTRA trainer visit to run a quad safety course for the young team who work with us throughout the year. The mobile mast had not been switched on at that point so we had to make sure that everyone was aware of where to access landline phones in an emergency.
Another weakness highlighted was that our quad safety hats were not a good enough standard. The trainer was excellent and really brought home to us all the fragility of human life and how quickly situations can escalate into a tragedy.
It has certainly focused my mind and I have been much more aware of the dangers of overloading the quad, body positioning on slopes and crossing hill drains.
Last week’s news headlines regarding Facebook highlights the
negatives associated with the use of social media, but for me it’s still a
massive marketing tool which all sectors of our industry can use to narrow the gap between the farm gate and their consumers.
The arrival of 4G to more rural
communities means it’s much easier for us all to tell the story of the work we are doing on the land.
What surprises me is that Joe Public actually wants to engage and find out about the journey their food takes and the stories and characters that make up Scottish agriculture.