Let’s start off with the New Year with a few figures that will surprise many – my rainfall statistics, which have, for the past year hit 38.5 inches.

This is only half-an-inch more than my 30-year average and after conferring with a few others who have been recording their rainfall for years, in both west and east, all surprisingly finished with slightly above average rainfall.

In this part of the country, it certainly has not been the wettest, not like 2002 with 49 inches (or 1205mm) and the lowest recorded was in 2003 at 25.75 inches.

The problem with the past year was that since around June 10 – with the exception of July 16, 16 and 18, when we had three dry, drouthy days together – we never had two dry days consecutively. That's nothing like enough to produce any meaningful forage such as silage, haylage or hay. The same has to be said for harvest, particularly in the western half of our country, where some crops have never been harvested.

I spoke to a farmer at Ayr market who has never been able to harvest some 30 acres of barley and he told me he is not alone in north Ayrshire. In the past 'so-called' wet years, there was always a weather window which lasted for at least a week or more in the month, even though it might have been quite a wet month.

Now, I wonder how Fergus Ewing’s advisory agricultural weather committee is going to tell us how to cope with the weather in the future? I can tell him that we already have all the tools in the box to cope with most weather conditions – eg pretty good and fairly accurate weather forecasting, plus equipment and machinery which can clear large acreages of whatever crops we grow.

All we need is a few reasonable weather windows in which to do that work. Nothing in Scotland has changed that much in my lifetime as a farmer. We have always had to work with good weather windows.

I can recall as a teenager, when my father grew oats and wheat, cut with a binder and we stooked the sheaves in sixes to dry before being carted in to the stackyard. One bad year, he ran a single barbed wire strand down between the stooks, north to south, where we hung the sheaves on the wire up and down the field, so they would dry more quickly when that few good days of wind and sun arrived.

We carted them in, with the Fergie and a converted horse corn wagon, with both weighing no more than half a ton, to be stacked in round stacks, thatched with wheat straw, then clipped round the edges with sheep shears.

Fergus, farmers did not need a 'quango' then and they do not need one now. All we need is a few longer days of dry weather windows and no committee on earth is going to deliver that!

Even in those three good days in July, we managed to make excellent haylage for our neighbour's horses. So, my three wishes for 2018 is some good weather, some good weather and some good weather!

Perhaps I have a much better chance of my wishes coming true than Frank Clark, president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, has for his wishes of more livestock, more livestock, more livestock. It appears that Frank has not been reading this column for at least six months, or maybe he does not read it at any time!

If he had, he would have got the message that there is no chance of his three wishes being granted. In fact, he is likely to acquire fewer cattle and not just a few less, but a whole lot fewer for his abattoirs!

Two changes could turn it around, but it will take time.

1), Beef cattle producers need margins if they are to produce more cattle.

2), Get rid of the old EUROP grading system and reward quality.

Now, even if those two wishes were to be granted tomorrow, it will take several years before there will be any sign of an uplift in numbers of prime cattle ready for SAMW members’ abattoirs. Breeding beef cattle is a slow business and if Frank thinks he might just get a few more from the dairy herd, I am afraid his dreams have absolutely no chance of coming true – especially with the latest drop in milk producer returns.

If SAMW is serious about wanting more livestock, then their first port of call should be to Fergus Ewing to get rid of the land wasteful area-based support system and replace it with the old-fashioned headage support mechanism. This will encourage more cows to be kept to utilise the thousands of acres which are currently producing little or nothing.

A much bigger challenge will be to educate the headless chickens at Westminster to see sense, because all Michael Gove wants to talk about is the 'environment', which, no matter what he does, will look after itself.

It is usually this month that I look into my crystal ball and have a guess at what lies ahead. Unfortunately, with this expensive EU divorce on the horizon, even the ball is not quite sure which way to turn, or is even sure whether the divorce will take place. Because, to my mind, if we had another referendum – especially given the scale of our Brexit divorce terms – I would expect a reversal of the vote, with a big majority wanting to stay in the EU.

The crystal ball is wondering how those headless chickens in Westminster will deal with that scenario. That would be a real spanner in the divorce proceedings.

It is to be hoped that the country will not have another election in 2018 but, sadly, of that, there is no guarantee. There remains the hope, though, that the turkeys will not vote for Christmas.

So much for the political world – how about the real world in which farmers have to function.

If we look at the graphs in most agri-publications of 2017, compared to 2016, they were positive most of the time, with the exception of potatoes and oilseed rape, which were much closer to where they were in 2016.

We have to hope that currency stays in our favour and the product that your sector produces goes into a supply shortage, then there will be a little margin to be made. Sadly, that has been the case almost all of our farming lives.

The crystal ball hears a lot about the big changes that will take place when or if we leave the EU. I am afraid it does not believe half of it will ever materialise.

Yes, changes have been going on since time began, but never as large as those predicted. Just remember – seeds have to be planted, cows milked every day, stock fed and looked after, because if that does not happen, as it has for hundreds of years, then there will not be any food for consumers. Now then, that would be a catastrophe!

After Michael Gove’s speech to the Oxford Farming Conference, this might become a reality if we respond to his desire to create new habitats for wild-life and return good cultivated land to wild flower meadows and trees. If that includes rushes, then a large chunk of Scotland is well on the way to qualifying.

A friend who was at Oxford described his speech as a whole lot of waffle with little substance. So, the crystal ball sees the New Year ahead as confused, concerned, a little worried at another 5%increase in farm borrowing to Scottish farmers, but certain that by far the majority of farmers will have some enjoyment out of 2018!

Finally, on the second day of the New Year, we attended Kilmarnock Rugby Football Club’s match against 'The Scottish Farmer' team from the southern half of Scotland. As you would see in last week’s publication, the score was 46 to 7 in favour of the farmers, who were much fitter and leaner than the KRFC team, who seemed to use many more subs than the farmers!

I do not know all the rules of the game, but enjoyed the banter in the stand from a dozen female Killie supporters when I started shouting in support of the farmers! My two grandsons, who play for KRFC kids teams, could not make up their minds who to support!