This is the time of year for reflection after we get the last of the Christmas orders out of the shop.
Fifteen years ago we would have almost as many orders for New Year as we would have had for Christmas, but now we have virtually no orders for then.
The days on end of eating and drinking at the New Year are consigned to the history books.
The farming families of the United Kingdom have still much in common, working long hours in both the arable and livestock sectors.
As Scottish farmers we have far more in common with our compatriots in the rest of the UK than we have with fellow Scots in Glasgow or Edinburgh.
We are all in a very vulnerable position as far as Brexit is concerned and whether we wanted it or not we are soon going to be in line to jump or dance to another tune. Farming businesses have always had to react to market demands, the problem is that in most agricultural sectors it is very difficult to make changes quickly enough to avoid financial destruction.
Our butchery has started to add value to our Highland steers. This has been achieved through the years but it is very difficult and requires a lot of thought to do the whole job (apart from slaughter) from start to finish.
We retail from the shop on-farm and attend farmers’ markets in Huntly and Inverurie.
We are not sure if we have to get ready for another surge in business when we go into Tier 4, as the last lockdown almost doubled our weekly take in the shop with people panic buying and filling their freezers to avoid being without their favourite meats.
Our other on-farm diversification, developed at the same time, was a trout fishery. It performed quite well initially, but has now fallen by the wayside due to us being unable to repel cormorants which enjoyed the entire contents of the fishery for several winters.
These protected birds made it impossible for us to keep the ponds stocked as the profits disappeared with the cormorants back to the coast.
This was not a problem which we envisaged when we were initially setting the venture up. At their peak there could be 20-25 birds sitting on the banks of the pond unfit to fly having eaten so much from the ponds.
It is the unforeseen which often kills you off, just as many businesses are forecast to fall by the wayside due to Covid-19.