This Highland farming Instagram account gives you a true taste of life in the fields

Laura Silverman
Photo credit: @airyolland | Janet McQuistin

From Country Living

Janet McQuistin, 52, breeds Highland cross Whitebred Shorthorn calves and Beltex sheep on Airyolland Farm in south-west Scotland, with her husband Neale. Here's how she embraced Instagram (@airyolland) as a way to feel connected to other female farmers and less isolated out in the fields.

I’ve always carried a camera on the farm. I breed and sell cows and sheep, so I like to make sure I catch them at their best. Towards the end of 2013, my daughter, then 18, introduced me to Instagram. She thought I might enjoy it.

I quickly discovered other women farmers. There’s nothing like farmers comparing pictures! I follow Mary Brough, in the Lake District (@broughmary) – I like her hashtag #oldshepherdess, and Wilma Cameron (@CameronsFarms), on the west coast of Scotland. I met Wilma at a Highland cattle sale, four years after I’d started talking to her on social media.

Social media is great for seeing what others are up to. You can feel quite isolated when you’re farming. I always feel better seeing other farmers’ pictures. We understand what it’s like when things get difficult.

Photo credit: Caroline McQuistin | Janet McQuistin

I’m always looking out for a good shot. One winter, I was herding sheep and they began following me in a line. I parked my quad bike, stood on it and snapped away. I’ve taken other pictures of a Highland cow peeking over a dyke and a calf born on Christmas Eve. I love the winter because the landscape is so dramatic.

My photos have attracted thousands of followers from around the world. I get a lot of messages from Americans coming to Scotland, keen to see a Highland cow. Neale, my husband, has set up a tour business, Kitchen Coos and Ewes, on the back of it. This year, we’ve been posting virtual tours on Facebook.

I keep thinking my Instagram page will start looking repetitive, but then an animal surprises me. We have a lot of wildlife on the farm, too, including several red squirrels. I’ve yet to get one on camera. That’s my next goal.

For our full feature on how farmers are embracing social media and technology, pick up a copy of our October issue, out in September. Subscribe here.

Here are a few of Janet's best Instagram posts from the farm...

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