Given the fact that I’ve just returned from my first ski holiday in my 50’s now might be an opportune time to write about succession, it would be fair to say that the penny has now dropped that I am not immortal and will at some stage move on as is the way of the world.

In my younger days, a ski holiday was a luxury we didn’t partake in on an annual basis. Mum and Dad took us when they could afford it and having taken all four of ours this time as young adults I can see why it wasn’t an annual event.

We’ve had some great trips over the years, chilling out in the alpine air with family and friends and this trip was no different, we came back smiling having had plenty of laughs and thankfully not too many tumbles on the slopes.

I was acutely aware that my body didn’t quite live up to the punishment like it used to, age will certainly be a factor but a dodgy back and carrying a few extra pounds certainly didn’t help mobility but I survived and returned to base camp with a busy spring ahead.

As previously mentioned we are now the Highlands and Islands Agri-tourism monitor farm and since I last wrote we have had two meetings, one with external attendees and the other with just the family.

When we applied one of the things we wanted to look at was succession and how we as a family approach it. We had a fairly good plan in place from mum and dad to myself and Fiona but hadn’t really done anything about the next generation with a current age range of 15 to 22.

Our facilitator, Caroline Millar who’s been trained in succession planning sat down with us for a day in December and took us through the various steps as a family, starting with the older generation and working her way through to the kids.

I have to admit it was really useful, we had extremely open conversations about how we felt and how we saw things panning out going forward and we now have a list of things to do to put things in place.

Succession plans within our business will of course evolve with time. It will need tweaking and updating as family members come and go but we look forward to having further meetings to update and refresh over the course of the programme and beyond.

Our other meeting was titled ‘First Impressions Count’ and the day split in two to accommodate more than 40 attendees who first of all had an overview of the programme before touring the holiday cottages and part of the farm. After that, we split into groups and with Fiona and I asked to leave the room discussions were had around our agri-tourism offering, our website and our social media presence before we all reconvened to discuss the findings.

It would be fair to say there’s work to be done, there are several quick wins to be had including updating the website which we knew needed to be done but there are a few other areas to work on including what we can do to expand our agri-tourism offering.

By the time we had finished, we had a list of possibilities to consider, some we had thought of but several that our community group had come up with which we hadn’t even dreamt of.

Looking back on the day and I’ve likely said it before, the positive vibe from the sector and those involved in it is inspiring, we had a real variety of people at our first meeting many of whom we wouldn’t have met without agri-tourism and the next meeting can't come soon enough.

We are of course aware that we need to manage time spent on developing a relatively new enterprise on the farm with existing enterprises which throughout the year need energy and focus.

Other than the seasonal peaks in workload our calendar now has two on-farm sales which need considerable effort behind the scenes to bring them to fruition, with our breeding sheep sale in August and breeding cattle sale at the end of this month.

We tidy the cattle up pre-video and photo shoot but after that, we leave them to it, outside on a sensible silage-based ration whilst we concentrate on bringing the catalogue, sales platform and social marketing together.

As the sale gets closer we bring the cattle inside so they are handy for viewing and we focus on communication with our customer base, we really enjoy this element of the sale as assisting cattle producers from all over the UK select the right bull or heifer for them is really satisfying. This year’s sale concludes on January 26 and has 66 lots including bulls, heifers and semen, of course, nerves will build as we get closer to the big day, just as it does for anyone selling their stock. To counter this we facilitate a relaxed atmosphere on final sale day with some hot food and plenty of craic where buyers from near and far can gather to catch up whilst placing their bids.