IT MAY not have been one of their usual get togethers at RBS Gogarburn, but Women in Agriculture Scotland certainly didn’t let the current climate stop them having a get together – albeit a virtual one.

Learning to slow down, and take time to look at the bigger picture seem to be key points that have come out of living through lockdown, with the featured speakers saying that they took the opportunity to re-evaluate both their businesses and even their family lives.

Elspeth Goldie from Craighead Nurseries, near Mauchline in Ayrshire, explained that – as their nursery business was shut – they took the chance to develop their set up, and although they had a very difficult time, she has decided to take the positives out of it.

“It’s not often we get the chance to sit back and reflect on our business,” she explained.

“Since we started, four years ago, it’s been non-stop, so we got the chance to look at the long-term, and the big things – and that’s where the adventures happen!”

Ms Goldie - who is a qualified primary teacher - runs a day care nursery on her family’s 176-acre beef farm, and because of the coronavirus pandemic, her business – which cares for 110 children and has 22 staff members – had to close.

She took the chance to set up a parents support group to ensure help was available throughout lockdown and also continued to run the beef farm with her husband, while her father in law recovered from an injury.

The Scottish Farmer:

Elspeth Goldie

As lockdown restrictions ease, Ms Goldie has had to adapt her business to strive forward and has added a forest school to her business set up.

“The nursery is our farm diversification," she explained. "We also have a biomass boiler, but the nursery has gone from strength to strength. Covid has given me the opportunity to look at the future of the business. We’ve built the forest school and developed our website, so we’ve really used the time to reflect and plan.”

June Geyer, chair of Women in Agriculture Scotland, and part of the family business, Geyer Plant Services based in Dunfermline, echoed Ms Goldie's sentiments.

“We were very lucky that we didn’t have to furlough any of our staff – in fact, we took someone on in accounts – but we did find ourselves diversifying to suit the situation.

“One local man got in touch about us making him some weights, as gyms were obviously closed and they became very hard to get from the usual outlets, and we’ve ended up with over 200 orders for that type of equipment.”

Ms Geyer explained that lockdown resulted in some changes in her family’s dynamics.

“Personally, Covid made my family more mindful of our time together – it also made us look at how we work with each other, and how our personalities play a part in that.”

The Scottish Farmer:

June Geyer

However, she also pointed out that with the increase of online communication with the likes of Zoom and Teams, rural connectivity is something that once again has caused issues.

“Without our 4G router, we’d have been really stuck. Even this morning, it was touch and go if I could attend this event.”

The events' final speaker, Debs Roberts, from Farmton Farm, Perthshire, set up a Ladies Lambing Buddy Network during lockdown with her daughter, Jess.

The Buddy Network is part of a closed Facebook group called Ladies Who Lamb UK which has provided a safe online environment for women who have sheep.

Read more - Ladies Lambing Buddy Network takes off

The group was set up 18 months ago and now has 6500 members throughout the UK. They have also launched The Cowgirls UK group on Facebook, run on similar lines.

The Scottish Farmer:

Debs and Jess Roberts

Lockdown has seen these groups go from strength to strength, and become a real source of comfort and release for their members.

“We’ve definitely found that the groups can ease loneliness and break down a feeling of isolation for our members,” Debs Roberts explained.

“It’s not just about sheep, its about daily life, and we get great feedback from it!”