The Happy Farmer Communicates

It has been a mixed bag this week. My head in a complete fuddle. Dry, clear, wild and windy days allowing for gardening projects, cleaning programmes, pottery sessions, interspersed with daily walks and runs. Then the hard slap in the face of reality when the national news creeps into the living room.
Here the community is strong and caring. An army of volunteers have emerged, covering all corners of the island, working hard, looking after the most vulnerable. They do the shopping trips and deliver the goods safely to peoples’ doors, they collect medicines and keep an important connection going. Being there at the end of the phone, making sure no one is left out or alone in these difficult times. An Islay Resillience Fund has been set up to help support the team and our community at this time. You can read about their work and donate here.
Locally at the Ballygrant Inn David and Ewan have turned their kitchen and resources into providing hot lunches for the older members of our community, delivering them to their homes. Our smaller stores, such as Bridgend, are doing all they can to take orders, pack shopping and allow social distancing for those who need it. Everyone is thinking of new ways to work and support the community.
Our Islay Medical Services team provide caring, regular updates online. The calm of knowing the whole contingent are in the background working so hard behind the scenes to make sure we get through this crisis as safely and healthily as possible.
The people of Islay, all doing their bit to socially isolate and distance from each other, whilst all connecting online in one big virtual hug of loveliness.
In the pottery and on the farm, I have been humbled by all the lovely friends from across the country and round the world who have taken the time to get in touch, to offer their support. The gentleman who decided to cancel his Airbnb booking, choosing not to state because of Covid 19, but for other reasons, those reasons being so he could make sure we got a good cancellation pay-out to help us at a time when our business has had to temporarily close. The pottery customers who have placed orders, but are happy to wait for delivery until the crisis is over and we can once again head out to the post office. The emails and phone calls from guests and customers just wanting to check in with us and Islay and know that we as a family and a community are all fine, from countries that are suffering horrendously in the current climate, but whose people are still reaching out to touch base with Islay. It is indeed a small world.
I am managing to contain the Happy Farmer, keeping him socially isolated. He is, however, rest assured, staying abreast of current affairs in the community. His mobile phone is red hot as he works his way through his daily ‘to call’ list. Top of the list today was his friend the Ferryman. With the ferries providing an essential lifeline service between the islands, the Happy Farmer knows his good friend will be an entertaining source of local information. Not that the Happy Farmer’s nosey you understand, he apparently just has a very healthy interest in his community’s welfare.
The past week then has seen the Happy Farmer learn a whole range of new levels to communicate. At its most basic, he was seen hanging halfway out of the upstairs window of the farmhouse, chatting loudly. Trying hard to observe the two-metre social distancing rule, this technique allows him to safely catch up with anyone who happens to be passing by with deliveries.
Next, I saw him bent over talking to a fence post. At this point I did begin to worry that things were starting to get to him. On closer inspection however, it appeared that his mobile phone was precariously balanced on top of the post, and he was in fact deep in conversation with his brother.
The Happy Farmer has never ventured into the world of social media and believe me it is a unanimous decision among the whole clan that we should try and maintain it this way. That said earlier in the week he was allowed a very quick glimpse of the online world. With his fabulous cousin isolating in the borders last week’s video clip was too good not to share. A fabulous dance routine of said cousin ‘shaking his bootie’ to ‘American Pie’ to celebrate his wife’s big birthday (Happy Birthday Fiona x). It’s these small touches that make our world a smiling one. If his cousin happens to find himself reading this blog, please note, we are already awaiting the next instalment of his ‘online kitchen boogie woogie’.
The weekend at Persabus brought a whole contingent of cousins and family into the sitting room, via a computer screen of course, when the world of group video calls appeared in the Happy Farmer’s life. Seeing those Persabus Hippies, all socially isolating in their homes, large glasses in hand, coming together via a computer screen, was an absolute hoot and the promise of entertaining weekends to come.
So my friends, although we may be socially isolating away in the Hebrides, rest assured, with the wonders of technology, and the fabulous fast Wi-Fi connection we enjoy on the farm, communication is thriving in many new ways as the Happy Farmer continues the party.
We miss you all. We hope it will not be too long before we get to see you all again in person, but in the meantime, take good care and do stay in touch.
Until next time…

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