In this week’s Women in Ag segment, That’s Farming catches up with the sisters behind Keeping Up With The Hastings. They have embraced the Covid-19 pandemic, by becoming more involved on the family farm, continuing their teaching careers, and creating an Instagram account.
Miriam, and Rachel Hastings’ growing Instagram account has amassed close to 10,000 followers in one year.
The sisters, who hail from County Galway, joined the platform on March 26th, 2020, just days after schools closed their doors in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Ireland’s first national lockdown was imposed when the farm was at the height of lambing and calving season. An initiative spearheaded by EASYFIX inspired the teachers to capture the highs and lows of farming life through the power of Instagram.
That’s Farming profiled the sisters at the beginning of their Instagram journey, and recently, the publication touched base with them to reflect on 2020.
“We have had so many highlights over the past year; it is hard just to pick a few. Joining Instagram has been fantastic.” Miriam and Rachel told That’s Farming.
“Firstly, we have been introduced to many people who we may have never met without joining Instagram.”
“From this, we had the opportunity to share our knowledge as well as learn from others. This page has also brought much positivity to our lives; we receive the loveliest messages from people daily.”
Additionally, the page has contributed to their personal learning for their farm. They have learned about new tips, ideas, and products that benefit their herd and flock.
Furthermore, the page has also opened up opportunities, such as media interviews and Instagram takeovers, for the sisters.
“People had been telling us to create a page, but without the pandemic striking, we may not have created the account. We suppose we can take that as a positive from the pandemic.”
The sisters have posted content daily for the past year to create a digital diary of their farming year. They joined the platform with a vision to promote farming in a positive light, combining their two passions, farming and teaching.
“As we are both teachers, educating others is very important to us, so we share our farm practices and educate others on what we use on the farm as well as informing others of what we feel works.”
“We post mostly photos, but it depends on the activity we are doing on the day. Sometimes a video is needed to best display it.”
Keeping Up With The Hastings’ global appeal
The account appeals to both fellow farmers and those from non-agricultural backgrounds worldwide as the sisters strive to “inspire and educate all”.
They have captured interest across the country but have also reached England, Scotland, Iceland, Turkey, and even the USA and Canada.
“We aim our page at fellow farmers or anyone who has an interest in farming. We want people to enjoy our page and, at the same time, learn from us.”
“Besides, we hope that our page showcases that women can be passionate about farming and can be competent farmers.”
“However, it is not only the power of women that we wish to show; we feel our page should portray the power of Irish farmers.”
“We feel that the power of young farmers, whether male or female possess, is so important in the farming community.”
“Besides, we hope that our page can encourage those of which, who are hesitant about starting a career in farming, to feel empowered and confident in their ability to become a great farmer.”
“Lastly, we feel that farmers need to be supported when entering and continuing their farming career.”
Farm-wise, lockdown has not considerably impacted the sisters, although the pandemic has transformed some aspects of farming life.
They have adapted quickly to selling their cattle, both bulls and heifers, online. These days, they are welcoming new-born calves and lambs and preparing pedigree Charolais bulls for sale.
“The pedigree Galways that we bought last year have all lambed. We also have four new pet lambs on surrogate feeders.”
“Furthermore, we have introduced feeding Sealac – a new seaweed which we heard about through Instagram and find great.”
Furthermore, they have developed a new-found passion for webinars, as they thrive on keeping up-to-date with current research and good practices to farm efficiently.
These webinars bring the entire family together to learn new ideas, whilst also providing reassurance surrounding good practices they have implemented on their Galway-based enterprise.
Embrace the Covid-19 pandemic
Besides, the Covid-19 pandemic has also transformed working life for the farmers, who taught remotely since the beginning of the year.
In recent weeks, Rachel returned to school, teaching her fifth and sixth-year students, while continuing remote learning for other year groups. Meanwhile, Miriam is happily back in the classroom with her fifth-class students.
“We just had to adapt. There was a lot of preparation as well as uploading. However, we enjoyed spending a lot more time on the farm instead of in our cars driving to and from school in the morning and evening time, and the freedom of popping out to the animals at break and lunch.”
“The last year has been a year like no other, but looking back on it, we feel that we did not let the pandemic hold us back.”
“We continued our teaching career, as well as set up an Instagram page that people seem to enjoying and loving, which is great! Embrace the pandemic, do not let it hold you back.”
“We will continue to teach and farm, but we also hope to develop our page a little more.” they concluded.
You can follow Keeping Up With The Hastings on Instagram by clicking here.
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