The weather dried up just in time for us to get the seed in before April 20, the break-even day which heralds yield loss.

No doubt harvests will be below average, and straw will be scarce. As usual, some sheep producers talked of the worst spring ever and lambing disasters. I wonder if they expect too much of our sheep.

I certainly have considerable experience of lambing in the Scottish spring. When I was in my twenties a friend estimated that I would spend 11 years of my life lambing sheep. It didn’t work out quite like that but nevertheless, by any standard, I did a lot of lambing.

When I left school in 1964, we kept North Country Cheviots in the fields, most of which were on the 1000 feet contour, and Blackies on the heather hill which rose to 1500 feet. The 1960s were cold and I found it impossible to describe to those living lower down how hostile the climate could be.

The long family connection with hill farms in Sutherland resulted in my father sticking with the Lairg-type of Northie, when fashion had moved towards the stronger, flashier kind found in Caithness and the Black Isle. We sold our shearling rams at Hawick and were never near the top and on occasion took a hammering.

Very much against my father’s wishes I started buying some of the more fashionable kind, which were increasingly coming from in-bye farms. I learned how to prepare the rams and we became more successful in the sale and show rings. There was a downside, however.

At the time a few things came together. Many low ground farmers, due to poor sheep prices, dispersed their flocks which were mainly Half-bred.

Upland flockmasters, deprived of the Half-bred market and finding that due to increasing in-bye genetics, their Northies were doing less well, were changing to Mules.

I recall someone remarking to Kenneth Oliver, the owner of Hawick Mart, at the Border Union Show, that there were 34 Northie ewe lambs in their class. “If only we could sell them,” he replied.

At home in my youth we didn’t sit up with our sheep at lambing. There were a few mix-ups first thing which we had to sort out, but very few losses.

As my breeding programme progressed, largely due to the stronger bone and bigger heads on the lambs, we were getting lambing difficulties we had never previously experienced, so we decided to sit up with the ewes.

Our lambing shed was on top of a hill. The trees on the north side of it had been cut down and their replacements provided little shelter.

It consisted of about 50 covered pens around an open courtyard. The bothy which we used to heat milk and weak lambs and where we ate our lunch couldn’t have been more spartan. The furnishings consisted of a table, a gas ring, a Valor paraffin stove and some five-gallon drums with sacks on top to sit on.

The shepherd and I sat up on alternate nights and worked through the day. At night, we operated with a Tilley lamp and a torch, quite often in heavy snow. It was a tough regime.

Despite the often inclement weather we never lost many lambs. This I ascribed to three things. The first that we spent weeks before lambing erecting straw bields which sheltered the lambs for the first few days and saved countless lives.

The second factor was the Border shepherds whose experience and dedication had been hardwired for generations. Lastly, the breeds we used could withstand bad weather.

Today wool is increasingly being bred off our sheep. Without doubt wool has management issues. It would be difficult now to make an economic case for wool production as a sale crop and no-one disputes that a tight skinned lamb sells well in the market. Pedigree fashion has moved quickly to a barer and barer sheep.

Trials were done in the 1970s by the West of Scotland College regarding the influence of wool on the survivability of newborn lambs. Unsurprisingly, the Blackie and Cheviot did best. Some years later, a subsequent trial showed that the recently introduced Texels weren’t far behind. The Texel then had a dense fleece of beautiful wool, unlike the patchy thin coats they have now.

So often trends which are initially beneficial get taken to an extreme by pedigree breeders. Lambing a few ewes inside and keeping the lambs in until they are a month old bears little resemblance to lambing 50 commercial ewes a day on an upland farm with pens full to bursting and snow forecast for the next three days. Like extreme heads and bones, maybe skins which were initially a benefit have now become an issue.

Next away day is Scotsheep. I valued the stock at Aikengall when the Hamilton family took over so I am looking forward to going back. After that the Highland Show, if they let me in.

For 50 years, I just showed my membership badge at the gate. Two years ago, we had to book ahead. Joan and I had to use different email addresses. Her entry was accepted but not mine. We booked the car park online but we never received the tickets so we arrived at the gate wondering if we would be allowed in.

If all else fails I will take my cue from Lord Brabazon of Tara. In the years before The Great War he gave his friend Charles Rolls, co-founder of Rolls-Royce, a lift to Ascot. Drivers of early cars had little shelter from the elements, so he was dressed in a chauffeur’s uniform and was refused entry.

A little while later he appeared at the main gate carrying a bucket of water and walked straight through.

“Believe me,” he used to say, “there is absolutely nowhere you can’t go if you are carrying a bucket of water.”

When asked by a friend what he said if they asked where he was going, he replied: “I’m taking this bucket of water in.”