You find us peak-outdoor-lambing, the evening following what has been the worst lambing-time storm for a good few years – so this might be brief! By all accounts we were lucky, with folk to the south getting more rain, and I can see fresh snow just a little further up Glenisla.

We had about an inch of rain I believe, but it was driven by a very strong, cold wind. I’m sure I’ve lambed in snow and been less cold. There have been losses, but it is certainly not catastrophic, although experience has taught us that lambs born in these conditions seem to be susceptible to problems further down the track.

We have had a lucky run of lambing time weather for the last few years and usually expect a bad day sometime. We used to stagger putting tups out to spread the risk a little, but in the interest of promptness this year all our eggs are in the one basket. I spent a few hours in the more exposed fields catching ewes with new-born lambs and bringing them into a shed, which seems to have been time well spent. In fields with plenty shelter, they are often best left alone.

Bank Holidays rarely have any significance in farming, but we were fortunate that this weather landed on a day with no school. The kids were a good help, and when they got fed-up in the cold they went to light the fire, make tea and bake a cake – all important things for morale. Keeping the ‘top paddock’ in good working order and making good decisions can be a challenge at this time of year on the best of days.

Being out in the weather takes its toll on people, it is pretty hard work, and the next morning can be a bit of a depressing time. However, over the last 24 hours I have learned a new appreciation of a lot of things:

A new set of waterproofs – there is nothing quite like the luxury of water-tight leggings when you are driving a quad bike on a wet day!

A spare straw-shed, with innovative use of baler twine.

Some poor grazing management leaving grass tussocks, and the occasional whin bush providing good shelter.

Recently planted hedges and old trees for the same.

Electric handlebar heaters on the quad bike.

The ‘Daffy Duck Show’ on youtube at tea-time with the kids.

A good birth-coat on a lamb, with plenty hair-cover around the head and ears.

An attentive mother with the good sense to stick to shelter.

The warming effects of a hot bath and a dram.

Amongst it all, an old ewe that won Perth Show as a gimmer in her more glamorous days lambed a set of triplets in the lee of a dyke and proudly had them lined up – healthy and full – for inspection this morning. They are skipping around in the sun this evening.

Texel lambing finished up pretty well – in fact we had to order a few more tags! They got off to a flying start, spread thinly across some good grass paddocks.

They are now well on top of the grass and are badly needing a bit of heat. We have had problems with joint-ill in this mob previously but have been lucky so far this year. Ed the vet predicted that we would have a few ‘super-shedder’ ewes of whatever bug was causing the infection, and that the problem would rumble on until they left the flock. I think they must have gone. He also encouraged us to tighten up on hygiene and we have delayed any procedure that involves piercing the skin (tagging and orf vaccine) until lambs are a little bit older.

We have store cattle to sell tomorrow, and a load last week too. Although the pure Luing steers are programmed to graze and finish, we took a draw of nine of the strongest and biggest framed to sell store. They weighed in at 510kg and were knocked down at £1185. This figure is remarkably close to the value we were getting for their older brothers as finished cattle six months ago. Lighter Angus crosses out of two-year-old Luing heifers all returned in excess of £1000.

The Simmental cross Luing steers that go tomorrow have averaged 1.2kg per day over the winter whereas the Angus cross and pure Luings have averaged 1.0kg per day on a cheaper ration.

Dad watched the sale live on the web-cam and there was a sales-line emailed through 10 minutes after they were through the ring. A good service and I don’t think any of us missed a day away.

Some lockdown restrictions must have eased because the local café has begun taking eggs again, which is just as well as it seems that every hen is laying at the moment.

The self-catering cottage had the first holiday customers in since Christmas at the weekend – the first opportunity, although there have been some lets to key workers. It is nice to have people around that take pleasure in life on the farm – it reminds us of how lucky we are with so many things we take for granted.

Even just being a shepherd on a miserable day of lambing – demographically, we are a tiny proportion of the population. World-wide there are very few of us – God’s chosen few, to look after his flock of sheep on what is collectively a large part of the world which it grazes. It is an honour to be among the few.

Time to put the waterproofs on again...