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Young farmer focus: Beth Menzies - 'The farming industry carried on almost as normal throughout lockdown'

Beth Menzies, 21, grew up on her family hill farm in Argyll, studied agriculture at Scotland’s Rural College and works as a shepherd in the Scottish Borders.

Chaotic year

 

Where has the year gone? It is undeniable that 2020 has been a chaotic year.

 

Scottish farmers were told they could ‘return to work’ with the first easing of lockdown on May 28, but the fact of the matter is that we had never stopped.

 

Sheep still needed lambing, cows milked, seed sown and livestock fed.

 

Jobs needed to be done the same as they would any other year, rain or shine, lockdown or not. We have a duty of care to our animals and responsibilities to our crops that could not be done via Zoom or delayed a few weeks until cases began to drop.

 

Shows

 

The real impact of Covid-19 to me was the cancellation of all the shows and missing out on the opportunities which come with them.

 

The social aspect of shows is often the only chance many farmers have to get together and catch up with old friends and enjoy a dram or two in good company.

 

But even without the bar there is still the show preparation, the hours put in to dressing animals, the thrill of the competition and the suspense of the judging is an excitement unmatched by anything else.

 

These events provide an outlet for generations of farmers, with members of Young Farmers’ Clubs (YFCs) in particular flooding through the showgrounds in rigger boots, shirts and high spirits.

 

Unfortunately, it is never always as cheery as it appears.

Mental health

 

Mental health is spoken about among young farmers now more than ever due to how isolating farming can be with one or more suicides a week in the UK.

 

But there are still so many who face issues with their mental health and, without shows, this year has been one of the hardest yet.

 

Scottish Association of YFCs and all its clubs have been doing as much as possible to ensure virtual events have gone ahead, keeping members involved by organising virtual meetings and giving them things to look forward to, as well as the chance to just have a chat. This may seem so simple, but can make such a

positive difference for people.

 

Career

 

Studying agriculture at Scotland’s Rural College opened so many doors to experiences beyond Argyll.

 

I have met many amazing people and some of the greatest friends I could have asked for have come from my time in college, but it also allowed me to bring more opportunities to my local YFC through people I have met and events I have attended.

 

My agricultural family now spans across not just the UK but the world too.

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