Are you okay? It is sometimes a difficult question to answer, difficult to answer honestly.
As farmers we can be stubborn. You cannot live a life where you feed and check livestock every single day through the monotony of winter without being.
This period can be wearing enough but add in the horrendous weather conditions many of us have experienced over the last few months and the result can be both mental and physical exhaustion.
Respite is important, unfortunately it cannot be found in either mainstream or social media. Disconnecting yourself, while nearly impossible, is the only way to avoid criticism of our livelihoods and way of life.
Now, combine exhaustion with this constant negativity and you have a lethal combination. Are you really okay? Or are you too stubborn to answer the question honestly?
Opportunities to leave the farm for a few hours are hard to come by, but they are necessary for the above reasons.
The bull sales recently provided me with that much-needed break. We are looking for a new bull to join our pedigree herd so we went to Stirling to watch the judging.
It is not a job I fancy, judging cattle, at best you might line up cattle in an order which agrees with the majority of observers, at worst you can go completely against the consensus, rarely does a judge go without his stockjudging skills or knowledge being questioned.
But, whatever the outcome, it is important to remember that the judge is merely expressing an opinion and opinions are not absolute.
This statement, in terms of mental health, is important to remember.
If opinions are like backsides (in that everyone has got one) then opinions on land use can be particularly diarrhetic.
Environmental ‘celebrities’ are like a judge who lines up cattle in a wildly different order to consensus, demonstrating lack of knowledge.
Their aim is to get people talking and you do not do that by being mundane, and non-controversial.
Once they have done that, the verbal runs are unstoppable, facts no longer matter. The key is to ignore them, starve them of social oxygen and reach your own conclusions on matters – much like the buyers in the sales ring.
Remember, it is not uncommon for the top priced animal at the bull sales to be a completely different animal to the one the judge picked.
The buyer has his own opinion on what makes an animal great. He has formed that opinion by years of experience and learning from others. I failed in my attempt to buy a new bull for my pedigree herd.
Maybe my opinions are not that misguided though, others obviously agreed as I found myself being outbid on one of the top priced animals.
As a writer of an column, I try to write articles that I want to read, I try to write something a bit different from the rest, after all, anyone can regurgitate the same cliché themes week after week, and many do.
I do not want to write a column about mental health. But it is an important topic.
Look after your mind, respect the considered opinion of others, but remember at the end of the day you are the only judge that matters.