This month finds me sat around the kitchen table as part of a home-schooling session. There is a project about photosynthesis going on opposite, and a Norman McCaig poem is being analysed in the dog bed in front of the raeburn (neither occupants seem to appreciate his wonderful use of language).

It’s mid-morning, and I find that time the best for good ‘brain-work’. It doesn’t fit in with the traditional agricultural idea of getting paperwork done in the evening, but if we are masters of our own time, we may as well make use of it. Sometimes if the feeding regime is getting a bit stale, even doing things in a different order can freshen your day.

The school has been very good at getting work set, unfortunately a lot of it hangs on internet connections. We’re all looking forward to the afternoon session on ‘practical agriculture’, to include bike trailer reversing, biology of the sheep (practical), and the art of tying things up with baler twine.

When it comes to Social Distancing, I’m taking to it like a pro. I must be an introvert. And Self-Isolating? Well it’s getting to that time of year.

Calving has started and is ticking along fine. We have the first calves from a new Luing bull. He got half of the best end Luing cows that are bred pure for our own replacements, so was a bit under-used with 28 cows. We are now eight days in from our due date and he has 13 calves already, with no twins. He must have a pretty short gestation, which will come up on his Signet figures in due course and is a handy trait – especially when his calves are robust, with plenty go. They have averaged 44kg birthweight, none have been assisted and most are already outside with a good coat of hair protecting them from the wind.

We are lambing the pedigree Texels and some draft Lleyn ewes are ready to go. Over the last week we’ve had both a prolapse and a case of twin lamb disease – so it was no surprise to get an early lamb this morning. A stonking set of Texel triplets out of a six-crop Lleyn ewe. I think they had an Instagram following by breakfast time.

The first lot of store calves sold last month averaged £933 at 418kg. At 224p per kg that is up a bit on the year, for lighter cattle, sold earlier and bringing home about the same return.

The next batch are due to go tomorrow – sale still going ahead. Fingers crossed.

Since our last post, we have pregnancy scanned the main lot of ewes which produced an overall scan of 176% for 1216 ewes. I’m fairly happy with that as there is a group on a farm further up the glen that we have a grazing lease on that continually let the side down. However, they probably have enough lambs in them for the land they’re on.

I am really proud of our stud Lleyn ewes though – 491 scanned at a steady 187%, which for an outdoor lambing starting April 25, is fine. With 75% scanning twins, 15% singles, 8% triplets and 2% dry, it’s the make-up of the scan which I’m so pleased with.

We have tried to identify ewes that consistently conceive and wean twins and have multiplied their influence in our flock by using sons. Over 12 years the twinning rate has risen from about 60%, mostly at the expense of triplets – which suits our minimum shepherding system.

I understand there is a bit of a debate over how heritable twinning rate is, but I think it can have a bigger impact on end-of-the-day lamb numbers than simply scanning percentage.

We ended up with just short of eight inches of rain in February and it really couldn’t get any wetter. Early March has given us another 1.5 inches, but it is amazing how quickly things have dried up.

My father is getting about the farm again in his Kubota – checking stock, tidying some fallen timber and keeping us in order. Our kids are fascinated by his stories of looking after bulls on ships to South America and the adventures he had out there. He has more recently exported live cattle to Switzerland. My maternal grand-father exported cattle across the globe including to Russia. So, we are proud that Angus has joined the family tradition by packing off 20 fertilised Scots Dumpy eggs to a zoo in the Czech Republic. Hope they have more luck at getting less cockerels than we have!

We took delivery of a new batch of 70 chooks for one of the hen houses and fortunately they have already started to lay, as demand through a community food programme has rocketed, trumping any loss of sales from the local café forced shut.

In these strange times, I am so pleased we live on a farm. We have had a few city breaks over the years, staying in apartments. To think of trying to spend weeks on end cooped up like a cow in the byre somewhere like that makes me thankful of living at the end of the phoneline.

I really don’t understand how broadband works, I wonder how Norman McCaig would describe the mysterious thin strand of fraying rope that intermittently keeps our lap-tops connected to the school and to you.

Stay safe, stay home, and have a canny lambin’.