After 12 weeks, we have come to the end of our busiest calving season ever. There have been tears, smiles and some frustration – isn’t there always? – but we made it.
Like many farmers during the spring, my life off the farm is put on hold for the arrival of the calves, and this year was no different.
Little did I know I wouldn’t be reunited with normality and a social life again afterwards either. For obvious reasons, this can’t be helped and won’t last forever, but it was a difficult adjustment to make.
Farming is a full-on job at the best of times, and often it’s why we love it. But for many of us, working in isolation is not new.
Lots of my time is spent walking the fields, out with the animals or moving stock, all in solitude. Sometimes, this is great.
It gives me time to think, listen to podcasts or get some fresh air and exercise (like we don’t get enough of that).
Other days, a bit of company is needed. Even just some small talk can be a great comfort, especially after a difficult or long day.
It seems many people facing self-isolation due to Covid-19 have discovered how much they value and need company.
For those spending more time on their own, it is causing increased mental strain, and companies and charities are going to extra lengths to help those who are struggling with this loneliness.
For farmers, we need to look after ourselves year-round too, ensuring we talk when we need to, and know where to go for help (such as the FCN charity).
With Mental Health Awareness Week taking place from 18-24 May, it’s worth taking a minute to think about what we really do to look after ourselves.
Whether it’s getting home at a reasonable hour to see friends or family, or even just taking that time to relax, we have to prioritise looking after ourselves.
In a time of global crisis, the farming community has pulled together as usual and continued to work hard in order to #FeedTheNation.
Messages of gratitude for NHS workers and homemade rainbows have appeared in fields across the country, and many have taken inspiration from Captain Tom Moore with their own fundraising efforts.
It’s been heartwarming to see the effort made by individuals to go that extra mile. As a proud member of this community, I urge farmers to take time to look after themselves too.