Damian Barson farms 64 acres on the Fylde coast in Lancashire, keeping sheep, pigs and goats and providing good quality local meat – with ambitions to expand his acreage in the next 12 months. In this blog he explains why he feels it is important to take notice of your feelings … as well as the feelings of others
Farming in many ways is seen as solitude.
“Isolated in your own world, sometime one that only exists of you and your animals. Some farmers rarely see another human from day to day unless they have a visitor on farm, even then time can be limited to a quick ‘hello’, before returning to farm work.
The last few months have been difficult after the sudden sad loss of my father to a short illness of cancer. Only a few weeks ago he was given a few months to live, but unfortunately within a few days he was admitted to hospital, never to return home.
Last November he was living a full life at the age of 72 and now we are preparing to cremate his body.
Life can be cruel is so many ways.
One of the main reasons I started farming in 2021 at the age of 50 was to follow my lifelong dream. Life had been difficult over the last few years, with many personal pressures, so a change was needed. I’d lived behind a farm for 18 years, watched from a distance, but as a dog trainer I was focused purely on this industry. So, when I was offered an opportunity to rent a farm, I grabbed it with both hands.
Unfortunately, almost instantaneously the world turned upside down. We experienced a fuel crisis, world economic crash and a war in Ukraine. I couldn’t have written it.
The dream I’d being wanting was crumbling in front of me. My dog training business I was hoping would bank roll the renovations and build of my farm was dwindling away. Training was a luxury and one that was being cut almost immediately after the fuel crisis. Feed was increasing and any building materials were becoming that expensive many projects on the farm had to be halted.
Fortunately for me, I have people around me who try to keep me chipper, but generally it is me and me alone that is left to work it out. I’ve read over the year about how mental illness is rife within the farming community. I can honestly admit I’ve had days where recently I’ve questioned why?
Why am I putting myself through the pressure and demands of farming?
The financial strain it places upon me, not to mention the emotional rollercoaster I’ve been on over the last few years, together with recently losing my father. So, I fully appreciate the concern many farmers have for fellow farmers who suffer with depression.
I think as a farming community we need to reach out more, tell people more about how we feel. It also works both ways, we to need to check on our farmer community.
Don’t be afraid of asking of they are ok, don’t accept the typical British answer of ‘yes I’m ok’.
If we work together, help each other and look out for each other we can reduce depression within the farming community.