Harriet Lyon, 19, from North Yorkshire is about to embark on her second year at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.
Here she shares her latest blog with us on what life as an agricultural student is like, in a somewhat different year to what was expected.
Since my university finished early for lockdown, everything has been a little different. However, as we’ve all learnt by now, there isn’t a lot we can do about this and so I’ve been trying to make the most of a bad situation and learn new things as I go on.
I’m not the biggest worrier, but even I did start to panic a bit about how our summer exams would work - especially with some of my modules being part of a pre-requisite to allow me onto the second year of my Rural Land Management degree. I ended up taking some time off my lockdown milking job to get cracked on with the coursework that ended up being set for my modules rather than us taking the traditional end-of-year exams.
Of course, the idea of doing coursework sounds like an easy escape from exams, but missing out on the actual summer term lectures made completing the coursework probably just as challenging. Anyway, my results have just recently come through and I have passed, so that’s brilliant. Time will tell how second year is going to work come September, there’s talk of all lectures continuing online.
During the last few months, I have tried to keep myself occupied so was thrilled to give my brother a hand with weighing and tagging his lambs. My boyfriend came to help, and we had a lovely busy day that was completed with a BBQ tea - which my dad burnt!
I have also recently done a little work experience at Ruswarp Market, near Whitby, during a big store cattle sale. It was so interesting how markets are running with the current situation, but they managed it all so well.
Plus, it was such a good trade which was nice to see. You can see that for the farmers, going out to market has always been their social - chatting to friends, getting a cup-of-tea and seeing their animals sell making for a real day out, although all temporarily changed now. Instead, farmers just dropped their animals off and waited for a phone call to check they were happy with the price the animal had made and whether it could be sold. Many of them were sat waiting on their phones at home for this call and picked up straight away.
It is so sad that our Young Farmers rally had to be cancelled, but during lockdown, my young farmers’ club decided to involve all their members in making a video to rival the ‘toilet roll challenge’.
Ours was finding the ingredients for a traditional British roast dinner. It was a great success, getting us some publicity but also engaging younger members. We were all so thrilled when we made the Farmers Guardian website and achieved over 12.5 thousand views!
Recently, I was lucky enough to meet up with a local tenant farmer and learn first-hand how a good land agent can make all the difference with rent reviews and forward planning. It gave me some enthusiasm for getting stuck in and working hard when I get into my second year. I also fitted in going to my grandparents’ farm to help lead silage and I’m hoping to help a friend with some corn carting over harvest.
I was looking forward this year to going to agricultural shows; not only with my horse but also with my friends. Being 19, I really felt this was going to be ‘my year’ to have a fantastic time and enjoy being with good people.
Instead, socialising has been a little different, but the circumstances have made friend visits so much more special.
The last few weekends have been spent sat around a fire with a beer, as well as a recent trip to the beach one evening for a paddle and fish and chips. These little gatherings now feel just as fun as a night out. Although, we did all laugh that during the last month at university my friends and I dodged a few nights out because it was getting repetitive. If only we could have seen into the future - I’m sure we’d have been ‘out out’ every night!