IT WAS with a spring in my step and a giddy air of excited anticipation that I set off from home for my first on-farm event since March 2020.
Eighteen months on from that very first lockdown, with my wellies packed, an in-person gathering beckoned and I couldn’t be happier.
For me, the pandemic has shown that digital interaction has its place but it is no substitute for the real thing.
Who wouldn’t prefer to be perched on a straw bale in the open air with a backdrop of fields and livestock than perched at a computer listening to a webinar?
Farm events don’t offer many comforts, particularly in the winter, or indeed this summer with a wet and windy August. Over the years I’ve stood shivering in draughty sheds and trudged through mud and rain on farm walks.
Before Covid, there might be a hot cup of tea and a biscuit on offer to chivvy everyone along but Covid has put an end to that for now, with host organisations naturally vigilant about virus transmission.
Yet give me a few hours out with others any day, brew or no brew. We’re creatures of habit and I for one need that face-to-face interaction.
I enjoy the conversations with old friends and acquaintances as well as strangers I might otherwise not get the chance to interact with.
Farmers are used to herding cattle and sheep so have been taking instructions from event organisers enforcing social distancing and mask wearing rules without question.
As a group of people, farmers are a generous bunch, opening up their farms for others to learn from their experiences and decision making and to take away ideas that might work on their own holdings.
They are an opportunity to meet forward-thinking, progressive and open-minded individuals. It’s where we can pick up our best ideas.
They are also great spaces to meet safely since everything can be done outdoors with bags of room.
People sharing a collective experience, whatever it is that makes us swarm, it is things like this that make life good.
There is definitely a new normal but it is not too different to what we had before.