In my early life, I did three weeks lambing inbye and three weeks on the hill – it didn’t actually turn out that way, but a friend reckoned that I would spend 11 years of my life lambing ewes.

The inbye lambing was always tough. The shepherd and I sat up alternate nights and worked through the day. The lambing shed was on top of the hill, far from any other habitation and consisted of an open court surrounded by covered pens.

We did the night round, often in sleet and snow, with a Tilley lamp. The bothy had holes in the roof and to unfreeze we huddled over a paraffin stove.

It was an eerie place and the shed had been built from materials taken from a house which had been dismantled after the last occupant hanged himself. Some of the rafters were of dressed wood and had obviously come from inside the house.

At night, I often wondered if any were 'the' rafter. Sometimes my imagination wandered, but I never saw any ghosts.

Some years later, we employed a student to help us. He came from deepest Glasgow. We had an old ewe whose teeth had gone so she couldn’t eat a turnip.

We put her into the wood behind the shed where there was some grass. At dusk, I gave our man a bottle to top up her lamb.

The shepherd came on him sitting behind the dyke. No way was he going into the wood in failing daylight – I shouldn’t have told him about the rafters.

I was often a relief to get to the hill, although if the weather was unkind, it could be tough there too. On several occasions, snow lay into late April, sometimes with significant drifts.

Hill ewes weren’t fed then unless they were stormed. Quite often the hay was moderate stuff and sometimes it was some years old.

If the winter had been hard and the spring late, they would have been very lean and often didn’t want anything to do with their new-born.

No quad bikes then, everything was done on foot. Sometimes I would be carrying several lambs on my back in a home-made hessian lambing bag as I hunted for their mothers.

When the miscreants had been located, they were shut in with the lamb which looked most like them, although the odds were that the lamb I had chosen wasn’t actually theirs, until they took it. If the ewe had no milk at all she was marked and turned away.

In the late 1960s, some of the ewes in the more accessible hefts were fed Ewbol Hill Sheep Pencils and sometime after that feed blocks became available. Lambing became a lot easier and our lambing percentage went up. I often wondered if the extra lambs paid for the feeding?

If some of the toughest days of my life came in the inbye lambing, some of the best came in the hill lambing. If the weather was fine and the ewes in good fettle, the job went on well without me.

I remember a day half a century ago like it was yesterday. After a busy spell, things were quietening down at the end of lambing. I sat on a standing stone, of which there are many in the Lammermuirs, put there aeons ago by I know not who, eating a sandwich and having a flask of tea.

The lambing had gone well, the sun was shining, the birds were singing and for a young man, the world was fine and fair.

Farming then seemed a world away from what we do now – but in any era, sunshine makes it easier. As it often does, nature has relented after the wettest of winters and has rewarded us with a lambing time to dream of.

We had worries that sowing would be late and protracted. For the first time for years, we were finished before the end of March. Cows and newborn calves are now outside enjoying a bite of grass and the warm spring sunshine.

With the Covid-19 lockdown we have been unable to ultrasonically scan the yearling bulls and heifers when we weighed them.

For those not familiar with the process, a skilled technician places a probe halfway along an animals back to the side of the spine. The depth of its back fat and the area of the eye muscle – which is the sirloin on a finished beast – can be calculated from the picture on the screen.

More recently, using more modern scanners, we can assess the marbling within the muscle – although in the UK, as long as the EUROP grading system is in place, this is academic.

Since starting scanning we have greatly increased the animals eye muscle proportionate to their size. At the same time the animals have become larger.

The meat trade is telling us that thick cut steaks, even from our native breeds, are becoming too big, so we will have to back off. This is something that the pedigree industry is not too good at.

So often in the past, something that has been initially desirable has been carried on too long until it becomes a fault. For the most of my life, increasing growth in our Angus has been the goal – now the objective is to lower birthweights without losing what growth we have gained.

Improving feed efficiency is also a primary objective. Recent prices for finished cattle underline that any cost saving – and the potential for this one is huge – is imperative to improve profitability.

Coronavirus and humour are strange bedfellows. The analogy has been made by The Queen among others between present circumstances and those in the Second World War.

When I see pictures of supermarket trolleys loaded like a hay cart with toilet rolls, I remember my father telling me that in the army they were restricted to three sheets per day. “One up, one down and one to smooth it over."