Now that Christmas is upon us again, it is hard to believe that its the end of another year.

It has been a year that we started by being naive to believe that things such as Covid-19 could never happen in the 21st century and end it still questioning what the future has in store.

One constant is that daily life on the farm has to go on. As mentioned last time, we are seeing wet and windy weather replace winter frosts and snow, and this has continued well into December.

The tups were removed from both the ewes and ewe lambs on November 30 and this will allow us a small breather between spring lambing and summer calving. However, due to the weather it has been unsafe to bring the ewes into the sheep pens to split into their three lambing groups. We hope to get this done as soon as the ground firms up.

The pure ewes have been scanned with results showing 182%. They were sponged and this has obviously been fairly successful for the majority of them, as they should lamb steadily.

Repeats were given a second chance and will lamb with the main group. We are pleased to only have 2% of the 2020 crop of lambs left to sell and hope to have them away very soon.

Calving cows were taken inside on December 10 as it was becoming too difficult to access them due to the mud and bad conditions under foot. A quad bike or two has seen mud engulf three-quarters of their tyre height in some places, which of course only adds to the delight and challenge of farming outside in the winter months!

But, the cows have come inside looking fit and strong and will now be able to thrive. When they were brought in they were vaccinated for BVD with Bovela and Leptavoid-H for leptospira, and in addition any missing tags were noted and replaced to ensure they can be easily identified in the court.

The summer cows and calves came inside in November. The calves were weaned and all had their backs clipped, with heifers and steers being separated at that stage.

The three young Angus bulls that were out working were put onto the fodder beet and have gained an average of 30kg per head, which is ideal as it keeps them built up and strong for over the colder months.

There is not a great deal of difference between the spring and summer-born calves’ growth, which we felt indicated that the nutrition in both mother and calf must be suiting both. The daily live weight gain in the spring calves was 1.44kg, compared to 1.43kg seen in the summer group.

The cows have also now all been scanned and the bulls have worked well, putting 94% in calf and their days in calve appear to be nicely spaced. Fingers crossed for a busy, yet even, quick few calving weeks.

Of the 2019 crop of steers and heifers, there is only 10% left to be sold finished. From those already away, they averaged 480 days on farm from birth.

When I looked back at the computer records to 2014, the steers and heifers were on farm for an average of 650 days, thus making the current difference as much as 170 days.

A highlight when keeping livestock,whether in large or small numbers, is to be acknowledged for the time, effort and care you take when rearing them. We were delighted that L and S’ Forfar market took the time, especially under current restrictions, to stage the usual Christmas Show which is always a welcome addition to the winter calendar.

We entered a much admired Aberdeen-Angus cross steer which was bred from both a home-bred bull and home-bred Simmental heifer. When he was placed first, we were all delighted as, like I say, we like to take great pride and always strive to improve, grow and strengthen your herd.

He was sold to Scott Brothers Butchers, Dundee, for 2.80pkg. We were really pleased that he went to Scott Brothers as they support the market on a weekly basis, ensuring their meat is local and hand-picked by them.

I am hopeful the New Year will bring stability and enable us all to returned to some kind of normality – so Merry Christmas and all the best for 2021.