Something I never thought I would get is a mention in a book on sheepdogs and their training.

I won’t spoil the story, which appears in Tony Iley’s delightful book '100 years among sheepdogs', but it involves JM Wilson, whom I knew in his later years but never saw running his dogs. Those who did, raved about the remarkable control he had over sheepdogs, sometimes five working at once.

His Whitehope Blackies were probably rated second only to those of his brother, Ben, at Troloss.

While never a dog trialist, I always had good working dogs, most of which I trained, who could do most things on the hill or in the folds. In pre-quad bike days they had to be strong and tough.

My earliest memories were of my father’s old dog Clyde. If he found something stinking he just loved to roll in it. I would cuddle him – if my love was blind, my parent’s sense of smell was not, so I was marched off to the washtub.

One morning I saw the cattleman, Tom Easton, digging a hole just outside the garden. When I asked what he was doing he said it was for Clyde. I went up to his kennel and there he was, head between his forepaws as if he was sound asleep. I was assured that he had gone to heaven.

I wrote last month that I had never seen a ghost. I had forgotten about Clyde. My parents were having breakfast a few months after his death when I, aged three or four, appeared at the table to say that I had just seen Clyde.

“Oh,” my father said, “where was he?” “He was on a cloud.” “Did you speak to him and how’s he getting on.” My dad asked. “He’s getting on fine,” I replied. “He’s got the King (King George VI) and Archie Anderson (the in-bye herd)’s father for company,” (both had recently died and had definitely gone to heaven). “But he says he’s no getting enough porridge.”

Our politicians are needing a strong working dog behind them to push on their negotiation with the EU. More than just buying access to their markets, as they need to trade with us, too, their demands are, to a degree, justified.

Our potential liability comes in three parts. The first part is our contribution to the pensions of EU officials which has been agreed. The second part is our wish to continue post-Brexit to be involved in ongoing joint education and science programmes. Paying our share of the cost has also been agreed.

The last and contentious part is what the EU are demanding over and above what the EFTA countries (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) are currently paying to upgrade the infrastructure of former communist countries in exchange for preferential trade deals.

The EU, including ourselves, is in debt to the tune of £400 to £500 for every man, woman and child and badly needs the money, which strengthens our hand. Needless to say, nothing should be agreed until everything is agreed.

The sum will be large but must be decided soon, as no deal would be disastrous for anyone like farmers who trade with the Continent or want an open Irish Border.

Meantime, back on the farm, like everybody else, we are having to make our own judgements on what the end deal will look like. I suspect that milk, grain and probably pigs will be little changed. The threat to sheep is real, however the situation with beef could improve.

'Could' but probably won’t as much of the beef trade is controlled by Irish firms and Liam Fox seems to be willing to trade agriculture for industry in his negotiations with the US.

I have traded with North America for four decades. We talk of 'The Special Arrangement', but the people that I meet in the mid and far West have never heard of it. To quote Donald Trump, it will be America first and they will be very tough negotiators.

Whatever happens, we continue to fine tune genetics in the Angus herd to reduce costs and improve production. Without losing any of our long term increases in growth rates and carcase quality, we never stop trying to, at the same time, reduce birth weights and improve feed efficiency.

In any situation, less human involvement at calving and cattle that reach market weight with less feed will never be out of fashion.

Sheep are more difficult. Most things that we try in an effort to reduce costs have an effect on the end product.

For instance, moving lambing back to suit our harsh Scottish spring weather results in lambs being sold in the glut period and it is no accident that the easier lambed breeds are plainer and, as a consequence, discounted in the market.

We have tried various feeding systems and none have a consistent advantage. This means that meeting the challenge from New Zealand and Australia – should they get total access to our markets – will be formidable.

Even if we adopt their genetics, we still have to face high land costs, a colder climate and stifling regulation – all of which, they don’t.

Marketing our beef and lamb on the basis of landscape beauty, food safety, provenance and integrity will be a tough sell at home and will mean nothing overseas. The movement of support to the environment is worrying because our environment is pretty good now. The important part is that, however it is framed, support continues in some form.

Its importance was dramatically illustrated last month. The bull trade was decidedly sticky. The Basic Payment loan entered our accounts a few days later and the heifer trade flew.

Remember Barbara Woodhouse? Like JM Wilson, she had an uncanny ability to train dogs and horses that no-one else could control. I remember a conversation about 40 years ago when she was at the height of her fame with Tom Moffat, a fine old 'herd who was the best kenner of sheep I ever knew.

He told me that there had always been these remarkable folk. They were known as Rareyers. My father told me that Rarey had been a famous horse breaker but knew little else about him. Like the Horse Whisperer, Monty Roberts, John S Rarey had, 150 years ago, become internationally famous for his ability to tame vicious or unrideable horses. His success, like those of Roberts', relied on techniques which, like those for training sheepdogs, can be taught.

Tony Iley discussed this in his book. For all that, as with sportsmen, musicians or artists, the superstars have something else which can neither be taught nor explained but is God given.