Farming & politics. Do they mix?

For years as a freelance artist and arts manager, I told myself that I needed to keep politics out of my business. But it was a lie I told myself: as a young actor, I had a hard time auditioning for jobs that included selling the new brand of toothpaste to people who hoped it would make them popular with the opposite sex… yet went all out for roles in shows that ‘raged at the machine’. Later, as an arts manager, I’d host discussion groups between Israeli and Palestinian groups, Iraqis and Americans, Republicans and Democrats; organize art exhibitions and produce theatre that asked questions of ourselves and our viewers… I’d work for voting rights, and promote artists who had something to say imbedded their work. But then I’d turn around and try to create an online presence that appeared ‘neutral’. Even as a young artist, no matter my talent or skill – or what was truly in my heart – I was a deliberately bland product, something that anyone could feel comfortable casting: medium height, medium colour, no tattoos, not too much makeup. Willing to change anything about myself to get the job: “I can play blond!” No wonder I struggled to succeed in those early years: who wants bland?

But that’s fading away with age… and a growing comfort with my own crankiness… with the realities of life as a Scottish farmer and EU citizen… with a partner who agrees with and supports me, and who is letting go of his own veneer of neutrality, too. Who is learning to be comfortable rocking his boat. Although to be honest, nobody who has ever talked with Donald about his pet political focus – Scottish independence – could accuse him of being neutral. 😉

The Hirsel is our home. This website is our online home, a reflection of who we are and what the farm is. Until now, we’ve kept politics ‘out of it’. But we’ve realized that this farm is fundamentally a political project: we believe that small farms – and other small businesses – are as much a necessary part of a future independent Scotland, as any amount of Inward Investment – indeed, that they are a crucial piece of the mosaic of solutions we need to tackle independence and the world’s biggest challenge right now: climate change. Food security, regenerative agriculture, community resilience… all topics on the tip of everyone’s tongues…and how are these tackled without getting political?

So you’re likely to see us post more political posts. About things we feel passionate about. About things we think matter, things we feel we need to be fighting for. No worries: a lot of that passion is for our animals, this farm, and the simple joy of living and working here. There won’t be any lessening of those posts where we simply share our beautiful home and wooly stories with you. We hope you’ll stick with us for the ride.

First up tomorrow: a very personal take on Food Poverty.

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