By Mhairi Strang

We are living in unprecedented times… and you will be surprised to hear that I am not referring to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In fact I am talking about this brilliant spell of weather that we are currently experiencing. I don’t quite have the thermals off yet but after what seemed like two months of dreich constant rain, Spring has arrived and arrived with style.

The fields are green and are filing up with lambs and calves. Crops are growing and I am frightened to say it as a dairy farmer who lives in one of the wetter parts of the world, but some of the grass might even be needing rain. Nevertheless, looking at the positives, our winter wheat is thriving, our dry cows will go out tomorrow and my dad’s mood has fairly improved with the arrival of the sunshine which makes my days a lot more pleasant as well.

It will be interesting to see when all the animals that are roaming the fields will be sold, and at what price! Some markets are now utilising technology to hold sales virtually. I think this is a great step forward as it has the potential to reach a larger size of audience.

This video conferencing technology has quickly become the norm, be it for my Saturday night catch up with my friends or through holding young farmer meetings and competitions. I am a member of East Kilbride Young Farmers and I have recently stepped down as Lanarkshire District Secretary within the last week – a role I enjoyed every minute of! Last week at the virtual Lanarkshire District AGM we had the best turnout we have had at a committee meeting this year, which is evidence that there is scope for technology even when we go back to normality.

It is a cliché, but young farmers really has taught me so many transferable skills. Notably, I took part in the Cultivating Leaders course last year which was facilitated by Heather Wildman. The course looks at all aspects of business management; from accounts to drawing up business plans. I cannot recommend this course enough to my fellow young farmers as today’s farmers need to have a business mind in order to thrive. Significantly, it highlighted to me the importance of having a good team around you – from staff, to your vet, dietician, AI technician and not forgetting the banker. Conversely, the course also taught me that personal goals are just as important as business goals and this for me was one of the biggest learnings… along with meeting a great group of friends from all over Scotland who I had a lot of laughs with throughout. The closing date for this year’s Cultivating Leaders deadline is July 1, and you can find the applications on the SAYFC website.

Completing the cultivating leaders course inspired me to further my personal development and I am currently taking part in the Tesco Future Farmer Foundation. The TFFF comprises of workshops covering business skills as well as supply chain visits. I have found the supply chain visits particularly insightful as I have visited parts of the industry that I wouldn’t otherwise get to see – from visiting a pork processing factory in Norfolk to seeing a Muller corner yoghurt being made. Even though some of the visits are out with the dairy industry, I always find small techniques that I can bring back home and implement to make the farm more efficient, effective and most importantly make my life easier. I have enjoyed every TFFF event so far, and with seven months still to go, I am thoroughly looking forward to who else I will meet and what I will learn.

During this time we cannot feel anything but lucky to be living and working on the farmland in the open spaces with fresh air. This is a great luxury which many in cities do not have at this moment in time. I think it is great seeing the locals from my nearby village getting out and about walking in the countryside responsibly as everyone should be able to experience the green field joy that we get to experience every day.

Often in life we will look forward into the future to try and predict our next move, but with sun shining why not live in today? We are living during a challenging time but there are so many positives that we can focus on; make your smile change the world, don’t let the world change your smile.