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In Your Field: Rachel Coates - 'Farmers' need a shop, don't stop slogan'

Be careful what you wish for. After weeks of dry weather and wishing we could have just a bit of rain after first cut, the weather broke with a vengeance and we seemed to be instantly transported into autumn.

Thankfully warmer days returned for a little while, and second cut is imminent, although, as I write, shorts have been replaced by waterproof leggings.

 

Before the weather broke in early June, we had cut a field for haylage. However, it was making hay faster than you could say bale, so we had the bright idea of making it into little bales. Really useful to have round the farm and for shows, if they ever happen, we thought.

 

After a day of traditional haymaking we had all remembered why they were called idiot cubes.

 

Wearing my Yorkshire Holstein Club secretary hat, I organised an online meeting for the committee to discuss items of business which seemed to be getting bounced about via email but not reaching a conclusion.

 

It proved a really useful exercise, one that certainly cannot replace all meetings but possibly an alternative to us all turning out on a rotten night in winter.

 

The meeting also highlighted the problem with rural internet as some members were unable to connect.

 

This was brought home to us when days later our service dropped out completely. The problem was exacerbated because we recently signed up for a fibre optic contract and the out-of-date wiring couldn’t cope.

 

It’s not like we are in the back of beyond, we are only five miles as the crow flies from a city centre. The situation was resolved by a young engineer, herself from a farming background and knowing only too well the issues with rural broadband.

 

Other engineers before have obviously not considered us worthy enough to spend all day tracking the fault to obsolete cables running from the village.


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Another hat I wear is that of a director of the community interest company that operates our local farmers’ market.

 

We were excited to run our first market of 2020 at the end of June. Much planning, multiple emails and several online meetings went into the layout, one-way system and hygiene measures that enabled the market to go ahead.

 

We felt it was very important to get the market going to support the local businesses which trade with us, although throughout lockdown we have tried to help them by advertising delivery options.

 

Many of the producers were keen to get back on track and we had a well-attended market, plenty of shoppers and several stalls sold out.

 

In recent times our little market has become a somewhat social occasion, with live music and children’s activities. Now completely different attitudes are required and, to make sure the flow of people kept on moving, we adopted the slogan ‘Shop don’t stop’ or, as Stephen put it in his Yorkshire parlance, ‘Buy it and beggar off’, or words to that effect.

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