Farmer Focus: School visits can help address misinformation

There have been a lot of miserable days weather-wise in January and, if I’m honest, I have had a lot of easy days.

I’m not feeling too guilty about it, because when the cows start calving and the daylight lengthens, I will probably make up for it.

I’ve spent a few days at the mart, and it’s good to see the price of store cattle a good bit sharper than they were in the autumn.

See also: Canadian learnings: 4 ways UK sucklers could improve profits

A friend who was selling very similar cattle reckoned he was £150 up from September.

It’s really good to see the sheep trade heating up. The people who bought store lambs are struggling not to smile too much when the hammer falls.

We scanned our own ewes last week, with decent results. At 189% overall, it is less than last year, but we have more animals in-lamb and fewer triplets due, so that can only be a good thing.

Something that has become part of our winter routine on the farm is hosting school visits. Last week we hosted a primary 3 and primary 4 (six- to eight-year-olds) class from two different schools.

Once again, we had a great time, and I hope the children, teachers and helpers all enjoyed it. But I would like to see it happening more.

The Scottish government has stated it would like every primary school child to visit a farm.

The Royal Highland Education Trust is there to help organise and, most importantly, arrange the risk assessments.

I have very able volunteers who come and help me, and I know there are plenty more farms up and down the country that already host school visits.

If it’s something you haven’t done on your farm, but you would be interested, go for it. It’s one of the most rewarding things I do.

So, at a time when it seems as if our industry is under attack, here is something I think we can all do to help a little.

If you happen to be speaking to a primary school teacher, could you ask them if they have taken their class to a working farm?

Steven Sandison farms 100 Simmental and Salers-cross cows on the Orkney Islands in partnership with his wife, Lorraine. They have a small flock of sheep and grow 8ha of spring barley. Making the most of grass is a priority.