I have been a host for Open Farm Weekend on several occasions, and found taking part to be a wonderful experience. You would not want to do it every year, but definitely it is something that every farmer should try to take on at least once.

The initiative offers the chance to increase awareness about what we do and put farming in a positive light.

There is always so much negativity around our industry, it is great to get the opportunity to turn the tables. In particular, I found having local school children out on farm was so rewarding.

A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from a nice lady asking me if I knew any farmers (from this area) who would be interested in hosting Open Farm Weekend this year - she is having trouble recruiting farms.

One reason is the amount of TB about. Fermanagh seems to be a real TB hotspot at the moment so a lot of farms cannot commit to hosting this year. The second problem is the amount of pessimism around farming at the moment.

It is extremely hard to get farmers into a positive frame of mind so that they could showcase their farms and farming in general. It is probably a combination of poor returns, poor weather and all the extra rules and regulations that are being imposed on us.

Farmer groups

I am in a lot of different farmer groups, and I am regularly going to meetings both in-person and online. Some of the farmer groups (not them all) that I am involved in are nonstop negativity. To be honest, sometimes I question why I continue to take part. There are times it can be so depressing.

They complain about environmental regulations, DAERA policy, poor prices, the new agricultural minister, and lots more. It is a never-ending stream of issues. I genuinely feel sorry for their family members as living in this negative atmosphere could not be pleasant.

It is extremely easy to see why a lot of the next generation are walking away from our industry. The only reason that I stay involved is that I hope to bring some positivity to them.

Short holiday

I recently took a break from farming and went to London for a short holiday. It was nice to leave all behind and relax for a few days.

London is a wonderful, historic city with lots to do and lots to see. It is also a lot more expensive than Fermanagh but definitely worth a visit.

There are so many people in London and they are all rushing around. Apart from a few people sleeping on the streets everyone else seems to have loads of money. I honestly did not see any cost-of-living crisis, with lots of very full coffee shops and restaurants.

While it was good to get away, it was also nice to get home. It makes you appreciate what we have with our beautiful countryside and cattle and sheep to look at instead of thousands of people rushing around you. There is no better place to rear a family and to grow old in.

Perhaps it is time for us farmers to look more positively at what we have. We do not earn as much money as some of the city folk, but life is not all about money.

It is also a time of year when there is so much to look forward too. Calving and lambing will be starting shortly. The days are getting longer, and spring is just around the corner. The snowdrops and daffodils are appearing, and the fields are starting to get green. Hopefully, it will soon be time to get back to grazing grass.

Farming can be tough but we all have much to be thankful for and plenty to be positive about.

Perhaps you might even consider opening up your farm to be a host during this years’ Open Farm Weekend and be a showcase for our wonderful industry in NI.