You know the drill. An innocent little email drops into your inbox from the editor of The Ambridge Chronicle.
It reads: “We wondered whether you’d like to write something about farming. I am sure our readers would be very interested to hear your views.”
Honest reaction: really? Methinks not. The view facing a blank screen and writer’s block is not so good from here.
But, deep breath, here are 10 very good reasons why you should consider writing that piece for the local paper. Of course, the choice is yours, but, reader, I did.
1. Polish your halo
Generally not known for being backwards at coming forwards, farmers are strangely reticent on the subject of what they quietly do for the village that rarely gets noticed.
Come on, if you didn’t cut the roadside hedges, they’d all have to pay more council tax. And of course you sweep up afterwards so no one gets a puncture from the thorn clippings, don’t you?
2. Bask in the green light
Shout about that nectar plot abuzz with bees and the wild bird cover teeming with tits. This is all stuff that people seem to like.
They may be pleasantly surprised to learn that you don’t just spray chemicals everywhere and kill the wildlife.
3. Remember, you are an ambassador for your industry
I am not suggesting offering up a column on the nutrient values of chicken muck or even attempting to explain the grain futures market – that may be a bit hardcore.
But throw in the odd technical fact and not only will you appear mighty wise, you may even help someone to understand how and why we do what we do.
4. Speak up
Does anyone read this stuff or take a blind bit of notice, I hear you cry. Probably not, but if you win over one reader, you have achieved more than you would have by keeping quiet.
5. The pen is undoubtedly mightier than the sword
So if the dog walkers are letting their pets run amok among your cattle, use the column to talk about livestock worrying as a criminal offence.
But check and stick to your facts and get someone else to look over whatever you have written before you press the send button, so it doesn’t read like a bathroom mirror rant.
Aren’t farmers always being told to diversify? As exciting and terrifying as it is to see your name in print, you might actually get a taste for it. Who knows what bright future awaits as a Farmers Weekly columnist?
5. Enjoy the celebrity status
In this case, silence is not golden. If one person sidles up to you and mutters “I liked your article,” believe me, that is a result.
6. Equally, be prepared for brickbats as well as bouquets
More brickbats. Enjoy.
7. Let’s stick together
As a farmer you might feel like an endangered and/or persecuted species, but airing agricultural issues might engender a bit of solidarity. You never know, another farmer may well tell you how he would have done it better.
8. Accept you can’t win
As with most things in life, you’re dammed if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. So why not have a go? The worst that can happen is that you won’t be asked again.