The 'Corona Carousel' keeps spinning and I am just grateful every day that I can go about my work largely unimpeded.

Very disappointed that there will be no live AgriScot and that the NFUS conference is back to on line only – but there's consolation that the former's farm awards and the close to my heart Business Skills awards are going ahead. I think we are now going to have to live with this virus, but history tells us that Governments are notoriously slow at loosening restrictions once established.

Perhaps Fergus Ewing our past and honourable Cabinet Secretary suffered politically for being slightly right of centre more than his boss would like and suffered the consequences for that and with the much vaunted idea that the Tory party in Scotland should break away from Westminster, perhaps the 'Linesman' and the 'Lawyer' should put their heads together and discuss a way forward?

That thought was fairly and squarely knocked on its backside by the now ermine enshrouded Ms Davidson! Naïve, I know, but stranger things can happen in politics – this government's alliance with the Greens comes to mind.

Also, Scottish Agronomy is going to have Lorna Slater (strangely subdued since her appointment as a government minister) speaking at its agm next month. What an opportunity to lay out the positive messages and really show who is Green here. I’m sure the membership will take up this challenge with some vigour.

Closer to home, I accepted a 'contract' – nothing unusual in that you may say, as I am after all a contract farmer. But this was more one more associated with likes of The Godfather. The wording was most specific – it required six woodpigeons delivered no later than four days before Christmas.

Clearly, you need background to understand this. Firstly, Anne was not cooking the Christmas lunch this year. Our daughter-in-law (a pharmacist, who declares she is a 'farm assist') had taken on the main cooking tasks with two cracking wee boys aged six and eight.

But Anne had promised her husband, our No 2 son (a Glasgow lawyer) a special starter. I tell you this for two reasons: 1, I’m very proud; and 2, it was the only thing I had in common with the aforementioned previous Cabinet Secretary (which amused him greatly) therefore a woodpigeon terrine to complement the turkey would be our contribution to the feast. Hence the 'contract'.

Really, though, I have been conducting a battle with pigeons that decided that my decision after eight years 'off' to resume my love/hate relationship with oilseed rape, would be a signal to every pigeon in Scotland to have a taste

The reasons for this resumption are relatively simple. I wanted to stretch my rotation; bring pollinators back; it’s a good break crop alongside oats; and probably most importantly the economics were stacking up. Dare I say it is more 'sustainable' – a word I will come back to later.

Selling a tonne of rape starting with a 6 has to get any arable farmer's attention. I will not at this point discuss the input costs starting with a 7!

I say love/hate, as all growers of rape will tell you just getting the bloody crop through the first few weeks of life can be detrimental to mental health.

You have done all the IPM – fine firm seedbed, rolling, rolling again, slug baits and prayers. So it was a gigantic relief to get a splash of rain and some heat mid-August to allow these wee plants to make some headway and to allow me to focus on other priorities at a busy time of year.

So to the contract again. The rape crop was looking well and started the winter in great shape, so it was no surprise that pigeons with 80ha of bountiful biodiversity and carbon capturing trees surrounding the 250ha of land that I am privileged to have managed now for 34 years decided to make the crop their main meal after they had exhausted the beech nuts.

Like most farmers, I have a licence to possess a shotgun for the purpose of vermin control and the occasional clay shoot. I’m not a brilliant shot and 'clay doos' do not make great soup, so the added incentive of protecting my investment and the possibility of having something nice to eat fairly improves my aim.

The 'contract' was duly delivered on time. I’m not sure how many air miles the pigeons had, but they were certainly carbon neutral and both grandkids stated that the best part of the meal was gran's terrine and requested seconds.

Back to the word 'sustainable', to which I would add 'regenerative', 'nature friendly' and 'agroecology' – all buzz words in our new 'Woke' world.

Ask 100 people for their understanding of sustainable and you'd get 100 different answers, but for me sustainable is having a profitable business that is environmentally sensitive, but has production at its heart. That fact gets lost on our well-fed chattering classes, who are only too willing to tell us what is the best way to run our farms without having the pressures and experience to back it up.

Look at what has happened in Sri Lanka. Google the Global Farmer Network for the full story on how the government, following 'green' advice, made an immediate movement to organic farming, resulting in a food crisis in the country. Our own government and the EU have stated that they want to see more organic production but should take care in how that wish is enacted – Sri Lanka could show them how NOT to do it.

I would like to share with you some research initially by the Macaulay and latterly The Hutton that has been done here in the North-east, including land I manage here at Laurencekirk and taking in 36 farms and 1000 soil samples from 1950 to 1980, revisited in 2017. Below is text taken straight from that report and table:

Finally, the comparison of ~1000 samples analysed over an approximate 30-year period (1950-80s) and encompassing a range of soil series as well as those from re-sampling and analysis of a smaller number of sites in soils of North-east Scotland, indicated no apparent loss of soil carbon. This despite major measurable changes in other soil fertility parameters and increased agricultural intensification over a 60-year period and supports the resilience and long memory of certain soil systems.

I share this to prove that we constantly hear how bad we have been over the past 60 years, but in Scotland, at least, we are in a very good position, compared to, for instance, our Australian friends – and we should be proud of that.

Certainly, we cannot rest on our laurels but let’s refute the claims of the doom mongers and show off our strengths – nobody else is going to do that, as they have agendas which the evidence above does not suit.

I keep being asked about the ARIOB set up last year, which has been criticised – and with some reason perhaps – but this is the real deal guys, take notice. The pace is slower than I would like and certainly within the F-LG members the message is we need to get the I for implementation front and centre.

We just need to look how our English colleagues are being treated. Top down schemes with absolutely no thought to production in any of it – don’t take my word for it, just read the House of Commons' Public Accounts summary and, I quote: "The Department concedes its confidence in the scheme looks like blind optimism.”

So, for here, it will be a bottom up approach and with a strong steer from the F-LG reports – just have a little more patience please. That's something for those that know me I have in very short supply so rest assured any prevarication will see some home truths and honest words.

The redoubtable Jim Walker intimated on these pages that we had been nuked – yes I believe the big red button was pressed but the explosion did not happen, why? Because we now have people with the 'can do' attitude necessary, like the team from RPID (Rural Payments Division) who see that the FLGs recommendations are doable, which previously we did not have.

I am not prepared to let all of two winters' work be lost – yes the baby that Jim conceived is not perfect and the father was not allowed at the birth, but I’m determined to get the best possible result for Scottish Ag.

But we need every farmer and crofter to buy into this. I admit the comms around where we are has been utterly deplorable at best. The only way is up and regardless of what Scottish Government says or does. please just raise your eyes see the horizon do what’s best for your business now and you might be in a good position to draw down on schemes as they come forward.

I will sign off now and wish you all well for the forthcoming year and hope that with some of my comments above that a 'contract' has not been assigned to me ...