PEOPLE from all over the world can log on to www.adoptafarm.com, the on-line adoption agency for animals and machines.
The web-site was set up by farmer Robert Parker (pictured), his wife Eileen, and her cousin Kenny Middleton. "It was Kennys idea," says Robert. "He came and gave us a hand at lambing time a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. He suggested we should set up a site to show people what it was like on a modern working farm."
The site first went up in 2001, but foot-and-mouth stopped its full development and promotion. They did, however, gets hits and people registering an interest quickly from as far away as Chile, Japan, Malaysia and the US.
The site aims to be educational and show people what happens on a working farm such as this one, which is 190ha (470 acres). "Many people have no idea about farming or where food comes from – and maybe this will help in some way," says Robert.
The sites first foray has been into the adoption of lambs and sheep. Lambs are adopted for a year – all of these are used for breeding so their offspring can, in turn, be adopted.
For £10/year, each full member gets a monthly update and a photo of their animal – along with details of what "Farmer Bob" is doing on the farm. The site, which is mainly aimed at children, has photos and each member gets a membership card and car stickers.
When the site went live early in 2002, someone signed up within 10 minutes. "I couldnt believe it," says Kenny. "I had just finished setting it all up and someone from Alabama, USA, signed in and paid their fee."
Robert says: "Maybe, just maybe, this could be one way to bring farming out of the doldrums that have followed the industry over the last five years or so."