And just like that, another year has come to an end.

We are currently enjoying what could be classed as a traditional winter here on Mull - lovely wet and muddy weather with ground conditions ready to turn a field into a poached mess after running the young dog around the hoggs for even just five minutes. Before you think me too depressing and ungrateful, we were very lucky to enjoy some sunny and dry frosty spells earlier this month. The frozen ground and blue skies proved extremely helpful when we had to bring the cows off the hill for their annual health test and pregnancy scan.

Two hard-working cows scanned empty which was disappointing but made up for with two cows confirmed in-calf against our expectation.

The first of the tups are due to come off the ewes shortly. The ewes seem to have tupped well which meant the tups’ initial exhilaration was quickly replaced by a look of exhaustion followed by utter defeat and resignation to their fate within a few days as the girls were continuously flocking around them to cut short any well-earned breaks they may have desired.

Unfortunately, we lost one of this year’s purchased tups within a few days of him joining some of our stud girls. The following day, a neighbour phoned up and offered us the loan of an old tup that had bred exceptionally well for him.

We picked the tup up that same day and even got a tour to see some of his sons out working. Not only did his offer help us out of a pickle, but it was a very kind gesture. Society would be in a better place if more people were like that and put their neighbour’s chance at success above their own fear of losing out.

Having said that, we did have to promise not to beat him with one of his tup’s lambs at the local shows next summer.

As we face a new year full of opportunities, challenges and huge uncertainty, there is one thing that I believe the industry as a whole can make more of an effort with. It circles back to one of the core tenets of regenerative agriculture – diversity. Whether we talk about managing mixed enterprises, growing several crops or using multi-species grazing leys, regenerative farmers often cite the importance of diversity for not only delivering many environmental benefits but also as a key aspect of making the business more resilient.

A business that lacks diversity relies much more heavily on fewer resources and income streams, so any breakdown is likely to affect a business to a much greater extent. It’s like a financial investment, you want to choose a broad portfolio to spread your risk.

So why is it then that we cannot take this attitude and apply it at scale to the agricultural industry as a whole? An industry which, much more so than many farming sectors abroad, is hugely diverse in what we produce, and how we produce it. We talk about celebrating the wide range of Scottish produce, but at the same time, we see industry infighting and system being pitted against the system.

Is the Blackie a better hill sheep than the Cheviot, the Stabiliser a better hill cow than a Galloway? Is faster-finishing on barley more efficient than slower grass-based finishing? Is a Limousin calving at two more climate friendly than a Highlander calving at four?

The answer is ‘no’.

Why? Because it depends on your system, your market access, your environment, climate, rainfall, soil type, access to resources and labour, security of tenure to invest in infrastructure, length of growing season, field machinery access, and even the specific bloodlines you choose. And last but certainly not least, whether subconsciously or not, on your own preferences.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with extolling the virtues of a system, breed or management practice to others. I am a firm believer in learning through knowledge transfer and believe farmers getting together and sharing an honest insight into their businesses is hugely important and valuable and can give others the inspiration and confidence needed to try out new things on their farms.

Crucially, we should not only share our successes but also our failures and talk about our bad experiences with crops, breeds, finishing systems, whatever they may be. We tend to learn more from failure than we do from success.

But, fuelled by a fear of losing current support payment levels, we inevitably see a shift in behaviour towards a more insular and defensive stance. If there is not enough money to go round, one must try their utmost to convince others that their system is superior, often not by praising one’s own system but by criticising others.

It is an old pattern of human habit that repeats over and over in our history books. Coupled with having to survive in a capitalist marketplace with tight margins, we face a recipe for disaster where the industry turns on itself, leaving the anti-farming vultures to feast on what remains.

Because a fractured and disjointed industry is a weak industry. It has a weaker lobbying power because we can’t agree on the messages to put out there. And it doesn’t help our public profile. Do we really believe that we as an industry are promoting ourselves as best we can to the public and our consumers if we can’t even acknowledge, respect and praise one another despite, or for, our different approaches to food production?

And so tomorrow, put your own personal preferences and ways of doing things aside for a moment.

Go visit your neighbour and compliment them on their achievements. Talk about all the things that connect you, that you rely on each other for and jointly rely on. Tease each other on your different choices of breeds but acknowledge that as long as we do not compromise their wellbeing in an attempt to follow certain fashions and buyer demands, there is a place for them all.

In the words of Halford E. Luccock: "No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it."

Happy New Year!