By Stewart Lambert, Kitridding Farm:

STRANGE, strange times: much of the country’s workforce is being paid to stay at home, no more hugs and kisses when friends meet and anyone in your vicinity is a potential threat to your health.

The measures taken to slow and stamp out the virus have affected everyone. You may think farming wouldn’t be too affected, but it has been.

When the initial lockdown was announced, cafes, restaurants, hotels, schools and universities closed, leaving processors with stocks of perishable meat the retail users had no use for and a surplus of milk as the coffee bars were also closed.

The country’s population didn’t change but its eating habits did. Supermarkets were emptied by panic buying as people ate at home, so there should have been little difference to the volumes sold and the price given to farmers for their products.

Initially lamb prices fell due to the closure of the export market, but they soon recovered when farmers stopped selling and created demand. Beef prices were under pressure before the crisis due to the importation of questionable Polish beef, but fell further because the supply chain was full. This was made worse by the Irish Government allowing abattoir staff to be furloughed with the staff still working allowing subsidised Irish beef to undercut prices on the UK market.

And milk: all those barista bars selling ever-popular milk-based drinks closing, when at home people tend to drink coffee and tea made with water. Dairies which supply this specific quality of milk to make a good latte were left with no marketplace, and their farm suppliers have had to pour their milk away or receive a much-reduced price.

From our perspective, our tearoom is closed and, with few people coming out to our shop, we are only cutting meat to order; no farmers markets and no large orders of burgers and sausages for events, so initially our income plummeted.

We didn’t give in. Claire altered our website and social media pages to advertise our home delivery service and collection from the shop.

We have seen parts of Kendal, Windermere and other local communities that we didn’t know existed, and met at a distance many really grateful, frightened elderly people and families who find the supermarkets an unnecessary risk and the queuing a waste of time.We do payment by card so there is no risk from infected money and the system is gathering pace.

We are also doing ‘meals on wheels’ for the vulnerable residents of Kirkby Lonsdale, and so creating some income to see us through this difficult time. The café will remain closed for some time although farmers markets will be reopening from next week and footfall through the shop is increasing weekly, so a fresh meat display will return very soon.