Herefordshire is both a rural community and on the border with Wales. So on Saturday tea time, I joined dozens others for afternoon tea, a puppet show and an informing talk about the work of the Farming Community Network. The puppets performed their unique ‘I lost my sheep’ routine, and a remix of some chart hits. We then had talks by representatives of the Farming Community Network. This is a group of mainly volunteers who seek to come alongside those within the farming community during times of challenge.
We can have idylic views of farming life, yet the challenges are easy to overlook. Whilst there is a brief respite from the heatwave, the recent drought (which hasn’t ended) has threatened the viability of some farms, where watering and feeding stock represents new challenges. Many farmers are having to use fodder which has been stored for the coming winter to supplement summer feed!
Many small farms have been in the same family for generations, and stock has a pedigree of generations. Faced with TB or Foot and Mouth, the consequences of loss of stock can be profound. One speaker spoke of a family situation where not only did the farmer know each animal by name, he knew parents and grandparents, and had hand reared each animal. There is a bond, something not always appreciated by those without links to the land.
The evening ended with the rousing hymn ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’, a reminder that whatever challenges life may present, there is One always at hand.