I am writing this on Thursday evening after a day away from the farm spent doing a social media photography course organised by our local machinery ring.
It’s the first face-to-face meeting of any kind that I’ve been to in more than 15 months and this morning I was both excited and a little bit nervous about attending. Would I still be able to chat to new people, what would I take for lunch, where were my good pair of wellies and could I still fit into any ‘decent’ clothes?
It was a fantastic day and I shouldn’t have worried – everyone else was really happy to be out and about again (albeit with masks at the ready) and the chat was great. The course itself was really good and we all learned a huge amount about what brilliant photos you can take and edit with a mobile phone.
There was also time to properly discuss the big issues facing our industry as we were wandering about taking pictures, with nobody accidentally on mute or with an unstable connection. It made me realise how much I’ve missed meeting new people with different ideas during the pandemic and having the chance to actually chew the fat with them, not just say your piece to a screen.
I turned out to be much better at taking photos than I’d thought I would be, the tips and tricks we were taught made a world of difference and anyone who follows me on Twitter will hopefully notice a distinct improvement!
We were also introduced to the world of Instagram, which I haven’t dabbled in before, so the challenge is to put some bits and pieces on there too.
We had a great conversation about how to engage with the non-farming public and how it would make such a difference if all farmers could do a little bit of positive publicity, either on social media, with farm or school visits or even just 10 minutes every couple of weeks showing kids the farm via the Farmertime initiative.
I signed up to this just before lambing and have been paired with a reception class in the north east of England who just love to see round the farm and ask questions during our fortnightly calls. It’s a brilliant way to get some positive messages across, but also great fun, and they always leave me grinning for the rest of the day. I’d encourage anyone out there with a phone and a few minutes to spare to sign up to this extremely rewarding idea.
Some of the best advice I ever received was to try to get off the farm at least once a week. Covid-19 has made that difficult for a long time now, but today’s technology means that even when getting away physically was impossible, I could still interact with others online, which was better than nothing.
Today has shown me though, that nothing beats actually speaking to people in the flesh and I hope this is the first of many real life meetings in the coming months.