November and December have been busy months for us so far, with straw, milling oats, fat lambs and cull ewes leaving farm, seed barley being dressed on farm and ewes getting moved back home from their autumn grazing, along with preparing for our SQC and QMS inspections.

We were slightly stressed about gathering and penning the ewes to take them home from our rented grazing which was electric fenced, but with no stock proof fences, but all 111 ewes followed a bucket through a break in the electric fence into a pen with no dog, no shouting, no swearing, no running required: ‘The carrot, not the stick’, as my late father-in-law often said!

With no downward movement in regard to fertiliser price, we decided to go ahead and purchase all our seed-bed base fertiliser for our spring crops at the start of December, for fear that we wouldn’t be able to get it in time if we held off any longer.

It meant that our seed bed fertiliser is going to cost £90/acre, compared to the £41/acre that it was last year. We’ve also purchased all the potash we require for 2022, two loads of liquid fertiliser and solid nitrogen for early top dressing of winter crops – all at eye wateringly high prices – let's now hope wheat futures remain good to compensate for these high input costs.

I’ve managed to attend a couple of meetings this month, firstly our arable business group benchmarking meeting, which was really interesting and, as usual, highlighted areas we could improve on.

It was great to attend a face-to-face meeting with this group for the first time in ages and we all agreed that discussion, and ideas flow so much better for this kind of small group if we meet in person, opposed to online.

The second meeting I attended was a Women in Agriculture Agri-tourism meeting on zoom one evening, which again was really interesting, with Helen Smith. of Byres Farm, and Caroline Millar, founder of the Hideaway Experience, both sharing their experiences on agri-tourism.

I found this kind of meeting with presentations actually works very well on Zoom, especially with women in agriculture often having childcare commitments making an evening online meeting much more accessible for many.

We have dabbled in agri-tourism before by holding lambing days on farm in both 2018 and 2019, before Covid-19 made us re-think about bringing people onto farm during our busiest time of year in 2020 and 2021. Considering the volatility of markets at present, spreading risk through diversification certainly seems a good idea.

This year had begun with so much uncertainty as we entered into a lockdown and seems to be ending with even more uncertainty given Omicron, Brexit, global warming and inflation affecting all of our lives in some way.

All we can do is keep trying to enjoy everyday and appreciate how lucky we are to live and work in the beautiful Scottish outdoors, and talk with and listen to anyone who is finding this period of isolation and instability overwhelming.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, prosperous 2022 – cheers!