Here we are folks – we made it through to 2019 and if you are me, your missus is trying (and mainly failing) to put you on a detoxifying alcohol-free January which is making you even grumpier than you usually are.

Only 'veganuary' could be worse – imagine what it’s like for those poor souls. Imagine doing both. Can we expect any good news to pull us out of our despondency?

Firstly, here is a true story, told without any artistic embellishment, which might tickle your sense of the ridiculous. A few years ago, an old friend of mine (let’s call him Pete) was looking for a replacement family car and saw a fantastic deal on a new 4 x 4 on the internet. It was a few thousand cheaper than normal and too good to pass up.

He took the train from the Borders up to Perth to pick it up from the dealer. When he arrived, it became apparent that the reason it was so cheap was it was a commercial and had no back seats at all. He was too embarrassed to tell the dealership and in a moment of madness he went ahead with the sale, but not before asking if it would cost much to put back seats in. The answer was 'Yes, a few thousand'.

As he was heading back down the motorway, his wife called up and asked him how the car was. With some trepidation he said: “It’s great but it’s got no back seats.” Thinking he meant the extra seats in the boot, she said it didn’t matter as they only have three kids and he readily agreed. So he carried on down the motorway for another half hour desperately trying to reconcile his mistake with reality before she 'phoned back and asked him exactly what he meant when he said it had no back seats.

She then called him a bloody idiot and sent him back. Dear reader, a no deal Brexit is a commercial 4 x 4 when we need back seats and there is no point fooling ourselves any longer – it’s time to take it back to the dealership and ‘fess up’ – it has all been an awful mistake.

There is certainly no majority in Westminster for 'No deal', so I hope we can rely on Westminster not to put us over the cliff edge. I had an interesting chat the other night with a gentleman who was of the opinion that we should leave without a deal regardless of the damage which he accepted would be done to the economy.

In his view, the democratic will is more important than the economy. I agree to an extent, but unfortunately I don’t think a marginal victory in a snapshot referendum two years ago reflected the democratic will of the people accurately enough to take such a momentous, deleterious step.

There is clearly no general consensus and in that situation the representatives of the people should shoulder responsibility, and make decisions on our behalf. That is how our democracy works, or at least it used to in the good old days before referendums and mob rule on social media.

The knock-on effect for us is that until we see which way the wind blows we are not expanding our soft fruit area. I am converting some more soil-grown strawberries to tabletops as we try to use our workforce more efficiently as one picker can pick around 50% more fruit in a day on tabletops than on the ground and the quality is generally better.

The downside is that there is a big capital cost and additional husbandry jobs associated with tabletops that we don’t have on the ground.

Looking elsewhere to find something to cheer us up from our enforced sobriety, our eyes alight upon the recent commitment from the Scottish Government to support Ringlink’s pre-apprenticeship scheme with hard cash. The £100,000 figure reported is actually short – the actual amount with Core funding and the new funding over the two years is around £467,000 and this would be enhanced if the third year of the pilot is supported by the new government in 2021/22 with a further £365,000, providing a total of £833k for the project.

I can’t think of a better way for the government to spend your money and all the staff involved at Ringlink deserve a big round of applause for the hard work they have put in to make this happen.

Another cause of extended festive happiness is that free buy potato prices are very good at around £250 for whites and £320 for Maris Piper, and this should lead to higher contract prices for next year. Sensible growers will not be tempted to plant any more acres this year than they have in the last one. If we all stick to that rule, perhaps the potato industry can be saved from itself!

The last of our finished autumn calved bulls went away in December, averaging 355 kg at 14 months and nearly all U3 and U4 grades. I have started to draw prime Cheviot lambs which have been on silage grass and ECV finisher pellets for the last couple of months.

Cailin, our pre-apprentice courtesy of Ringlink, has been helping and by the end of the month she will be literally learning the ropes as we start calving the spring herd of Blue-greys. Most of them will calve themselves, but there is always the odd one that needs a bit of help.

Hangovers in January for an abstinent fellow might be scarce, but headaches still come from elsewhere. For instance the announcement that net wrap can no longer be burned on farm, but must now be sent to land fill at a significant cost.

Apparently, the impact on the environment is less and because plastic is made from oil and gas, it is actually a form of carbon capture to bury it. There is so much work to be done on plastics, their efficient use and alternative materials, but I guarantee none of it will put pennies in your pocket, even if it helps the environment.

The environmental impact from banning neonicotinoids has actually been negative. As foreseen by many of us, pesticide use has actually increased as a result and a relatively benign and selective pesticide has been replaced by more indiscriminate pyrethroids which are deemed acceptable because they are more natural.

Diquat and metaldehyde slug pellets are next in line for the chop, yet food grown abroad using these products can still be legally imported. It’s a mad world and I don’t see it getting less insane in 2019, but we live in hope.

Onwards and upwards and Happy New Year one and all!