Sad reality of farming life is an education

Date Published: 14/07/2011

When the National Trust launched its ground-breaking MyFarm project at OF&G-licensed Wimpole Home Farm, in Cambridgeshire, it was with the full expectation that it would open the eyes of thousands of people to what it takes to be a farmer.

That is certainly what seems to have happened when hundreds of viewers watched live on a webcam the, eventually unsuccessful, efforts to save the life of a newborn filly foal.

As interested followers of the project’s progress, we noted this sad event yesterday when it was commented on by one our team in the office. No-one likes to hear of the death of an animal but, to be frank, we quickly moved on to other matters because when you are close to farming, you accept that the loss of livestock is a part of the way of life.

It was only when, via the Farmers Weekly Twitter stream, we learned today that the Daily Mail had run a piece under the headline “Hundreds of animal lovers see foal die at birth in farm webcam tragedy” that we paused to think again about this.

If there is a positive to come out of such an occurrence, it is that those hundreds of viewers (and to some extent now, the Daily Mail readership) are very much awake to what happens on farms around the country every week. It’s hard to think that there is a real downside to more people being fully conscious of what it takes to look after farm animals and to produce their food.

There is perhaps a touch of accusation in the tone of the Mail piece that this event was viewed by children, but then, as is often said, death is part of life. As parents, we do our children a disservice if we try to shield them from everything.

And maybe we’re looking too hard for silver-linings, but there is a nagging thought that this foal, born to the farm’s 11-year-old shire mare, Queenie, has achieved something very important in it’s too-short life by going some way to illustrate that farming is a difficult, dangerous and sometimes heartbreaking profession.

No doubt there will be many moments of success and joy at Wimpole Home Farm as the adventure progresses. The National Trust must have been fully cogniscent of the possibility of something like this happening and have handled it with sensitivity and a healthy dose of reality, judging by its comments to the Daily Mail.

At this rate, life on the farm could end up giving EastEnders a run for its money.