Farming From the Couch


Some of you may not be aware of Twitch, but it is a television channel that lets you watch other people play video games.  I know I know, I had the same reaction too.  That sounds about as much fun as going to the dentist.  Well Twitch is a very popular dentist because over 10 million unique viewers watch these various programs every day!  I had never really understood it until now.  Much like the video games, farming and ranching is filled with common misses and milestones.  It is comforting to know that someone else has experienced a sick animal or a difficult castration, the triumph of a perfectly assisted birth, and the joys of working with family (that is not meant to be sarcastic I swear).

I experienced just that feeling this week when I began the series This Farming Life produced by the BBC in 2014.  In this documentary, film crews follow five different farming families in Scotland.  This isn’t the typical whitewashed farm feature where various insiders show the best of their operations. Instead the series gives an intimate glimpse into the everyday business of farming.  Along the way, some of the participants will get married; will be injured; will shed their blood, anger, and fear into the mud at their feet, and I couldn’t get enough of it.

It is truly rare to find this type of honesty in today’s media.   From the opening montage where they are discussing the merits of a particular ram’s testicles, to the difficult realities of equipment breakdowns, this series has it all.  Eventually, after a few beverages, I found myself talking to the television and laughing along at the lighter moments because I actually felt like I was there.  Now I’m not going to speak on the relative realities of playing video games versus real life experiences as I believe there is room for both but I will mention this.  In video games, for every zombie slayed or impossible bad guy bested there is not really any tangible reward. When I watch This Farming Life I can smell the grass, I can taste the panic in the air, and I can hear the dawn just over the black horizon…because I have been there before, and this is what makes the series so great.  I am reliving some of the most exciting moments of my entire life.  Watching a video game has never given me that.

Another thing the series excels at is presenting a variety of farming enterprises.  All of the participants are raising livestock but they couldn’t be more different.  You have the rich people from the city trying to integrate into the local community, the home town boys and girls taking over their family farms, the huge ranch grazing over 15,000 acres, and the ranchers raising breeding bulls. If you are farming or still dreaming, I encourage you to check out this program.  It portrays farming in an honest and intimate manner that anyone who has any interest in agriculture will understand and cherish.

Addendum: I was forwarded a download of the series from a friend overseas.  I’m having trouble finding copies of it over here but if you are handy with the internet you most likely can find a way to watch it or download it.


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