THIS TIME last year the fields were absolutely sodden and grass growth was almost non-existent as the snow and frost were replaced by weeks of cold and wet.

We were feeding ewes twice a day, almost frightened to go near them as they looked so bedraggled, tramping about in the mud. Lambs huddled behind dykes, trying to survive but certainly not thriving.

Wind forward a year and we are about to stop feeding ewes, grass growth is phenomenal now the frost and cold winds are gone. Fields are dry and clean and lambs are lying about growing for fun in the sunshine.

Winter may well have a sting in the tail to come in May – I’ve seen that often enough – but for now the countryside and the stock that graze it are looking great.

Lambing is almost over in the in-bye ewes and, as ever, it brought its own challenges even with the good weather. Like most others I’ve spoken to, ewes in big fettle and too many lambs in them, surprise, surprise, led to a lot of prolapses and not all of them successfully sorted.

And with more than 300 sets of triplets (or worse, some quads!), there are more than 200 pet lambs getting reared on feeders. These multiple births in Scotch Mules or Blackies are just a bloody nuisance to be honest, but I have no idea what would have happened without the machines for rearing the lambs that were lifted.

When I was a wee boy I loved rearing pet lambs on the bottle, but that was two or three, not two or three hundred!

When I attempted my first ever ‘solo‘ lambing when I was 12, I lambed about 160 South Country Cheviot gimmers in a hill park. I have fond memories of this awesome undertaking.

First, the excitement of getting let loose unsupervised with my collie and a stick – there were no quad bikes in those days – to be allowed to attempt this task. Second, after a week of dry, warm weather the frustration (and tears!) one morning as every ewe that had lambed, or was lambing was ‘hanging’ its lamb. That’s the day reality sunk in and I realised what infuriating animals sheep really are.

The more you do for them and the harder you try, the more they will find ways to get into bother or ultimately commit suicide in the most unbelievable places or situations. Every year since (45 of them!), they have never failed to disappoint by going to even more extraordinary lengths to leave this earth!!

My final memory was finishing lambing my 160 Cheviot gimmers with four, yes, four, sets of twins. Compare that to today and hundreds of multiple births with lambs reared on machines!

Of course, I realise I am comparing ‘apples with pears’. Hill Cheviots and in-bye Blackies and Mules are not just a different breed but a whole different ball game – but even the hill Blackies have become much more prolific. Science, feeding and management have all seen to that and right now halfway through the hill lambing there are twins everywhere.

Lambs are strong but not so strong that they are a real problem, but strong horns on tup lambs are. Thankfully, we never really bought into Blackie tups with the strongest horns or worse, these horrible 'buffalo horns' growing in every direction out of their heads and often back into their faces.

I always preferred traditional open horns growing away from their face and certainly not meeting on the top of the head – old fashioned maybe, but the correct way for a Blackie tup’s horns to grow – at least it was when I was a boy! Nevertheless, stronger horns are now in the breed and it hasn’t made lambing them any easier.

Every Blackie tup breeder in the country should make a video diary of lambing time and a compilation should be made by the society and screened in September every year. That way normal mortals who buy Blackie tups won’t forget the impact of some of their rasher purchases at tup sales up and down the country in October!

The term 'easy care' sheep has been adopted from New Zealand over the last 30 years or so. More and more sheep in Scotland are getting less and less attention as the economics of the job become more challenging and difficult. Personally, I’ve never been a fan as it’s not how I was brought up to think about rearing stock. If you have them, look after them – if you don’t want, or can’t afford to look after them, don’t have them, is my fairly simple take on this.

This year I do wonder how these 'easy care' animals are managing with prolapsing and hanging quite so prevalent. I fear not very well but, of course, 'out of sight is out of mind', so I guess we’ll never really know.

It’s maybe just as well as it doesn’t really portray a great image of the Scottish hills and uplands with folk out wandering about, enjoying a beautiful Easter weekend, encountering all manner of carnage lying about.

So that’s lambing, good or bad, heading for a finish as it always does, but what are these lambs going to be worth this season? Early breeding ewe and lamb sales have looked encouraging as is the price of cast ewes, which finally improved a couple of months ago, after a long period of stagnation.

So that’s positive. Lower costs with early grass reducing feed bills is also a positive.

The biggest threat, as well as the usual pressures from the rants of the mouthy, ill-informed mob of anti-meat eaters is the 'B-word'. The media has mercifully spared us this pantomime for two weeks, so I’m not going to waste your week by saying much about it either.

Everyone knows it’s a threat, but no one knows how big a threat on either side of the debate. For most folk busy with big heads, big horns, or prolapses, they frankly haven’t the time or energy to worry about it and even if they do worry, it won’t change a dammed thing.

I do have one observation, however. Now that the lovely Theresa has finally swallowed a reality pill and realised she is knackered, her deal is knackered, and she is a crap negotiator who no one rates, she’s had to run off to that equally hapless and dangerous Corbyn for help.

To 'buy' his support, she will need to concede staying in the Customs Union, and possibly the Single Market for starters. So pretty much where we are today with similar rules and costs as being in the EU, but no influence.

That sounds just wonderful, doesn’t it? So can anybody tell me what the hell the last three years have been about please, because for ordinary folk with ordinary businesses doing normal things, this looks and smells like total bullshit to me!