As I write this article on a sunny afternoon between Christmas and New Year, I’m feeling extremely well fed and watered and doing enough work to ensure the stock are content whilst sidestepping most other jobs for the time being.

For some reason unbeknown to me, I struggle at Christmas time. It could be something to do with less daylight, socialising more than I’m used to, or maybe like many folk – I just get flat from time to time?

There’s no apparent reason for this. I have an awesome life, a good business, some great friends not to mention my family who are pretty cool! I’m married to Fiona who must have been a saint in a previous life and was found way before Tinder was invented, at the welly boot throwing competition at a Young Farmers' rally.

She’s awesome for many reasons, putting up with me is what springs to most people’s mind’s but also as she’s the other half of the management team which guides our family farming business in Easter Ross.

For those of you who partake in team sports, you will have heard the saying ‘there is no I in team’, this sums up our business. Whilst I may often be seen as the farmer, that’s definitely not the case – I’m half of a duo which leads a wider team of family members and staff who collectively contribute to the successes and sometimes failures of our business.

We farm in partnership with my mum and dad, James and Janet, dad’s still actively involved checking stock on a daily basis, remodelling his pickup at every available opportunity (how he managed to reverse into the only tree in a 30-acre field is beyond me?).

I will just clarify that that last statement ... it was beyond me until fairly recently when somehow I seem to be having more incidents than I used to. Jim, who’s in charge of machinery looks nervous when I get into the forklift these days which is a fairly new thing, he’s been seen driving very slowly past the farm whilst on his festive holidays, it would be fair to say he’s not checking the stock!

My theory is that most of us have sweet spots in our lives where we are fairly good at driving farm machinery, by 22 I was fairly handy on basic farm machinery. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a tractor perv or anything like that, but I could do simple livestock related tasks efficiently without wrecking anything.

It seems that now aged 48, that sweet spot may have passed and I’m just not quite as knacky as I was when handling a tractor but I shall persevere a while yet until the next generation take over the mantle.

Speaking of the next generation, we have four of them, James (20) who’s doing an HND in Ag at SRUC Edinburgh; Izzy who’s gone further south to study Agribusiness at Harper Adams; and Lexie (16) and Archie (14) who are still at school. We hope that some of our kids will come and join us in the business, but we are keen they go and see a bit of the world before they return home.

Fiona and I both enjoyed travelling when we were younger and spent time in New Zealand and Australia before coming back to Fearn.

In hindsight, we could have stayed longer, but dad was ready to hand over a bit of responsibility and I enjoyed getting the reins early, just as he had when he was younger. Maybe the aforementioned sweet spot extends into farming in general, if that’s the case I have plenty left to accomplish as the passion I have for the industry is as strong as it ever was.

Nurturing and encouraging others desire for our industry is something we always try to do, whether its our own brood or others we are keen to create opportunities for young people to grow, get them involved, give them responsibility and let them, rip!

So, back to this low feeling it usually lasts for seven to10 days and will always disappear rapidly in the first few days of January where I seem to get renewed zest for life and with the help of awesome initiatives like Doddie Aid and Run1000 both mind and body get recharged.

Taking time to recharge is something New Zealand farmer and 'life' inspiration, Doug Avery, talked about during his tour in 2018, its easy to forget about it but investing in yourself is the most important investments you can make.

As my mojo returns, I start planning for the year ahead. This isn’t a lengthy document, but it notes the key annual events and what’s needed to make them work better than last year, it also covers ideas and things I have seen that could make a difference here.

I do tend to generate more ideas than I have time, or resource, to bring to life, so following consultation with Fiona and the wider team we will pick what we think are the runners and try and fit them into the plan for the year.

It looks like it's going to be another busy one and whilst we are focused on what we can do within our business to improve many things including profitability its more challenging than ever to guess which way to guide the ship.

External influences such as the price of wheat for example are completely out with our control as a nation but a vision and strategy for our industry is something that politicians need to get a grip of early in the new year.

This has to be a top priority in Holyrood, guiding our ships without seeing land once in a while is getting fairly monotonous, we need a clear direction which gives us the confidence to lift the anchor and forge ahead.

@FearnFarm – Farm Facts:

The business: J Scott and Partners and Scott Farming Co (two businesses with the same objectives, quality and consistency). Six full time staff.

The Land: 1250ha farmed, 850ha effective (470ha owned, plus 380ha lease blocks and contract farming)

Livestock: Sheep – 800 recorded stud ewes, Texel, NZ Suffolk, Aberfield, Beltex plus 2500 cross-bred ewes and 500 hoggs tupped. Cattle – 200 stud cattle, 100 Beef Shorthorn 100 Luing, plus 150 wintering cows and 250 finishing steers and heifers bought annually. Breeding cattle and sheep sold on farm via Yourbid and privately; finished stock sold deadweight and through local auction markets.

Cropping: 180ha of arable crops, wheat, spring barley and oats. Also 100ha forage crops – fodder beet, swedes, stubble turnips, kale and forage rape.

Diversification: Holiday cottages that sleep four and 10, or 14 as one. Biomass and two small wind turbines.