Sales season is in full swing and it is great to be experiencing some of the best trading conditions that I can remember.
High demand for all types of sheep is brewing confidence throughout the industry and puts us in a strong position moving forward, particularly when it reminds a crisis-struck Government how important we are to a healthy rural economy.
Covid-19 continues to dominate the news but, hopefully, the tighter restrictions do not disrupt the remaining breeding sales.
We will have had our sale of Mule gimmers at Lazonby on Wednesday as Farmers Guardian goes to print, followed by Bluefaced Leicesters on Saturday at Kirkby Stephen and Sunday at Penrith, so it is a busy week and fingers crossed all goes well.
While we had a good turn at Lazonby after being at the start of proceedings last year, we are yet again at the end at Kirkby, so hopefully there is plenty of demand.
It is the highlight of the year for so many sheep farmers in this part of the countryside and, due to Covid-19 restrictions, many will be missing the annual catch up with friends as they decide to stay away, send someone else or even sell privately.
It usually takes a crisis to highlight what is important to people and the effect of social distancing at auction marts is there to be seen. There is no buzz and only necessary conversations to be had while wearing a face mask. The social aspect has gone, with strictly business conditions prevailing and it is sad to see.
The danger is that this goes on so long it becomes the new normal. Auction marts will certainly hope not and for the sake of the mental well-being of thousands of farmers, I hope not too.
For some, a day out at the auction is all the social interaction they get. Losing this routine for a second year would be catastrophic. We need a vaccine.
We are planning to hold our scheduled National Sheep Association (NSA) North Sheep event next June by kind permission of our hosts, Willie and Christine Woodman at Bradford House Farm, Northumberland, while all the time hoping things will have improved by then.
To say it is difficult to organise such a big event with so much uncertainty is an understatement, but our regional manager Heather Stoney-Grayshon, backed by a brilliant organising committee, is capable of putting on a great show against all odds.
The exact format might have to deal with whatever restrictions are in place at the time, but hopefully by June conditions will allow us to have a good old fashioned sheep show and probably, more importantly, a good old catch up. Goodness knows we will need it by then.