At last some heat. After one of the worst springs in memory, finally the sun has come out and even the grass is trying hard to grow.

Fields remain tender, though, with even a heavy shower turning them soft again as the water table remains stubbornly near the surface. Some the wettest fields, mostly colder north facing, are really struggling with the effects of eight wet months and now leather jackets have come for their holidays.

Michael has rolled and fertilised the fields, but they still look awful. A few years ago spraying them would have sorted the job, but like many other agri-chemicals, the spray for leather jackets has been banned and so far there are no effective alternatives.

So, we are having a trial with some garlic-based 'snake oil' to see if it can help, before our May/June grazing and silage crops are badly affected. I’m told that grass seed breeders are looking at developing leather jacket resistant varieties of seed and quite honestly, these can’t come quick enough.

Despite the late spring, lambing as it always does has come and gone and what a challenge it turned out to be. No grass and waterlogged fields at the start, followed by more rain, hail, sleet, snow, and frost. Pretty much every type of weather we could have done without.

The Mule ewes we lamb inside we couldn’t get out and the Blackies expected to lamb outside, we ended up bringing in droves of them as they lambed. So, all in all, a hell of a challenge.

Then the hardy wee souls that survived the weather had to contend with foxes killing randomly across all of our ground. We always get some fox trouble and we accept that, but this year has been exceptional.

Once again, more long hours for the guys sitting out in lambing fields trying to stop them.

A gamekeeper suggested to me that this problem is country-wide and may be something to do with foxes coming down the hill in search of food. It seems voles, mice etc have been wiped out in large numbers by the wet autumn, hard winter and late snow, so the creatures (including foxes) that rely on them for nourishment have been forced to look for alternatives.

Whatever the reason, it’s been a damned nuisance when we could have done without the hassle, not to mention the value of the lost lambs.

So fair to play Michael, Stuart and the guys for the effort they all put in – even yours truly was wheeled out in with my zimmer for a couple of weeks to help, so it must have been tough!

Like James Porter in last week’s Farm View column, I must pay tribute to this Herculean effort from a team that allowed a potential disaster situation to work out not too bad in the end.

As Hugh, at Tower, keeps reminding me about stock, you only get out what you put in both in term of feeding and the effort required to look after their well-being. Especially in a year like this, he is absolutely right.

'Easy Care' or 'ranching', it would seem are maybe not really very robust farming systems after all. In reality, maybe they are just alternative descriptions for people never going near their stock.

This may be OK in a benign winter and normal spring, but not this year. Human intervention in the face of the wrath of Mother Nature has undoubtedly paid dividends, despite the long days and enormous feed bills.

I fear if some of the stories around the country about losses, particularly in unfed, or 'ranched' hill sheep are true, their owners could be in serious financial bother.

For many, though, it’s a Catch 22 situation. You know you need shepherds but you can’t afford them because lambing percentages and lamb values can’t support men on certain types of farms, so they have to be left to fend for themselves.

Then along comes the 'Beast from the East' and her chums and, bingo, mortality rates in ewes and lambs go through the roof and a 50-100% lambing percentage is the result which takes you nowhere.

I have an awful feeling that the spring of 2018 could be a watershed moment for some of these types of farms, with their immediate future looking bleak.

The medium term impacts of Brexit and CAP changes will lead to even greater uncertainty and concern, so very worrying and potentially life changing for many I’m sure.

Just to throw another curve ball into the game, ASDA and Sainsbury decide to announce a new-found 'love in' which, if allowed by the competition authorities, may lead to a full-blown merger. Even if Sainsbury's CEO Mike Coupe hadn’t opened his mouth, we all know this kind of buying power and control of the supply chain can’t be good news for suppliers or primary producers.

His glib throw away line that consumers would see a 10 % reduction in prices but there would be no store closures or redundancies amongst Asda or Sainsbury staff is as mind boggling and worrying in equal measure on several levels.

Of course, they will rationalise the number of stores; of course, they will have to find synergies in back office functions, the buying teams and supply chain management; and, of course, if prices fall 10 % it will be us that pay for this wonderful privilege.

No wonder this guy was caught sitting in front of the camera singing 'We’re in the money' because no doubt he will be getting a big bonus for doing the deal at the expense of the employees and suppliers alike. He must think that we are all zipped up the back to believe this nonsense.

Meanwhile, with all these uncontrollable events going on around us, lambing and calving are coming to an end and the 'circle of life' begins again. The breeding programme for our sucklers is already underway, with several large batches of cattle synchronised to begin their AI programme.

With 110 home-bred heifers and more than 400 cows going into this amazing programme and being AI’d in the next couple of weeks, the work load for the spring of 2019 is already being mapped out before the memories of 2018 have even faded.

Maybe I’ll service my zimmer before I put it away for the summer – it may just be needed again next spring!