The temptation could be for farmers to say: “I told you so.” But this is not the time for such chuntering comments on social media.
Now is the time for rolling up our sleeves and doing everything we can to support our country.
This dreadful coronavirus has affected us all. It will change the way we live now and in the future. Lives and livelihoods will be lost. It is not just about food.
All must be enormously grateful to those in the emergency services, utilities and distribution for giving the rest of the population the opportunity to self-isolate.
So much has changed in the past week. I am mindful that my thoughts may be wildly out of date, and out of step, by the time this goes to print.
In trying to come to terms with these unprecedented and extraordinary times, I have had to reflect.
Our children have been sent home from school. Many of our tenants who have offices on our farm and some of our team are working remotely. The farm office is quiet. The coronavirus pandemic has imposed “time” that I have never had time for.
I’m not sure if it is nurture or nature, but in their eyes their mum and dad aren’t proper farmers. They work in the farm office and attend meetings. They seldom see them drive a combine or mend fences
We will all deal with the crisis in our own way. At home we are trying to create a structure to our daily routine. Mealtimes, roles and downtime defined.
Our children are in their teens. A son and a daughter, both are heavily invested in working on the farm during their holidays. We host “pick your own events”, selling sunflowers, pumpkins or squash.
They work full time. Greeting the public, selling teas and coffees, picking litter, parking cars, designing signs, cooking sweetcorn. It is varied work.
But our world is a diversified farm that is a far cry from the romanticism of a secluded life on a farm. And it is a million miles from the farm I grew up on – albeit the same farm.
When we walk Walter and Gladys (the most disobedient fox terriers in Hertfordshire), we spot wildlife and birds, identify trees and talk business. Not so much about crops, tractors or livestock.
I’m not sure if it is nurture or nature, but in their eyes their mum and dad aren’t proper farmers. They work in the farm office and attend meetings. They seldom see them drive a combine or mend fences.
In our self-isolation, they will do school work during the mornings and farm after lunch. And so will I. They will learn how to drive a tractor, and so will I (again). We will put up the fences I have been too busy to erect. We will plant gaps in hedges and take soil samples.
I will show them how to change a tyre, fix a puncture, reverse a trailer, stack bales, tie a load on a trailer with a farmer’s hitch, test grain moisture, sweep a grain bin, grease a combine, weld, and maybe, just maybe, make a decent brew in a thermos flask.
I feel ashamed that, as our hamster wheel spins ever faster, I haven’t made the time to show them these skills already.
Aside from teaching my children some new skills, I am extremely fortunate to be a farmer. What a privilege that, while the country is in lock-down, we can keep farming to help others.