April 28 2020 08:54 AM

It can be a relatively easy glimpse into the real-world efforts of your dairy.

To say we are all trying to find a new normal would be an understatement. With schools closing and classrooms moving to distance learning, the biggest learning curve I think has been for us parents as reluctant homeschoolers. Let me just say . . . teachers you have my full appreciation!

When the schools decided to close, I was super disappointed to wipe all of our spring school field trips from the calendar. Education has always been important to our farm and family. We are now the 4th generation to farm our land because my great-grandparents wanted my grandmother to have the opportunity to attend high school. Something that wasn’t offered in their previous area before the move to our current location. I carry that importance of connecting our dairy farm with the education of our local students.

Through this new change of distance learning, I am thankful for the role that technology can play in keeping us all connected while we can’t physically be together. Which has me embracing a new technology in the form of virtual farm tours. While I have been active on social media for many years, the video platform is a bit of a new format for me, so I’m learning as I go along.

You can, too

Did you have spring farm tours scheduled that you had to cancel? Or maybe have had teachers reach out to you for out of classroom experiences in the form of a virtual tour? Don’t feel overwhelmed to the point you say no; it really can be pretty simple. You probably already have the tools you need. I’ve simply been using my iPhone. Here’s a few quick tips I’ve picked up as I did my first virtual tours.

1. Shoot your video horizontally. Your video will likely be viewed on many different screens from phones or tablets to computers. Horizontal shooting will format to all screens easier. I know it feels awkward holding your phone that way, especially if you are appearing on screen. Enlist a helper if you need to.

2. Keep it simple. In person or virtually I always go through the very basics of dairy farming. Depending on the age group of kids or whoever is touring, you can always expand on the basics based on feedback or questions you might get. Be available to answer questions after your virtual tour.

3. My internet can’t handle live video tours at this point so I’ve been recording and sending videos to the classroom. A super simple video editing tool is iMovie. And if you get stuck with an editing issue, YouTube can provide the answer with a video tutorial.

Mostly if you say yes to a virtual tour, have fun with it! I am in no way a professional videographer . . . my bloopers reel tells the truth there, and honestly perfection isn’t what is expected. As we all juggle this new normal, any virtual taste of the farm you can give will be appreciated!

Darleen Sichley

The author is a third-generation dairy farmer from Oregon where she farms in partnership with her husband and parents. As a mother of two young boys who round out the family-run operation as micro managers, Darleen blogs about the three generations of her family working together at Guernsey Dairy Mama. Abiqua Acres Mann's Guernsey Dairy is currently home to 90 registered Guernseys and transitioned to a robotic milking system in 2017.