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Joyce Campbell: Spring brings a chilly blast as we face challenges ahead

dundee skylarks
POSITIVE SIGNS: There’s nothing more uplifting than a skylark’s song as birds make their presence felt as spring arrives.

A “fool’s spring” certainly feels an appropriate saying as we’re plunged back into winter, just as spirits were lifted with some warmth and sunshine on our backs in March.

My heart goes out to everyone lambing, calving or trying to sow crops right now.

Despite the weather, every morning as I head out to check ewes and feed the ladies that are scanned with multiples, the air is filled with the sound of hardy skylarks, singing away as they fly ever upwards into the sky.

The curlew, peewits, golden plover and oystercatchers have also made it back to the hills.

I suspect, like myself, they would also appreciate the return of some warmth and proper spring-like weather.

Curlews are numerous on Armadale farm

We’ve not started lambing just yet but are in the final stages of getting set up.

I used to rely on heading into town to our vets, agricultural merchants and local shops to pick up essentials. Things have changed and we’re now ordering many months ahead as the effect of pressures on the supply chain become more obvious.

Emptier shelves and the news that certain items can no longer be sourced, come as a surprise but it’s a common reply. In our consumer-led recent past, we were very privileged to buy whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.

I worried about the supply chain as the country left the EU and around the time of the first Covid lockdown. It no longer feels like a short term blip and we’re having to adjust to a new reality.

As the hellish war crimes and destruction in Ukraine continues to unfold on our TV screens it’s impossible to imagine the suffering and cruelty which has been inflicted upon an innocent nation and its people.

Joyce Campbell is preparing for the start of the 2022 lambing season.

The financial shockwaves from the outbreak of war in Ukraine highlight the fragility of the global economy.

The inflationary pressures taking hold in the fuel, food and energy sectors are unprecedented, with much worse being predicted. Anyone who’s recently bought fuel, feed, or fertiliser will testify to the impact to the profitability of their businesses.

I love the phrase “if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you”.

That’s very true;  necessity is the mother of invention. Growth periods and innovation do often come on the back of upheaval and disruption. I’ve spoken to a number of farming friends who are taking a hard look at their operations. It’s a difficult and very worrying time for many.

My advice is to avoid going near social media, especially Twitter, as you work through your future farming plans.

There’s an unending supply of keyboard warriors, ready to put the boot in and tell you everything you are doing wrong when you innocently post your farming content –  while everything they’re doing is just marvellous.

To all the experts out there – never judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

Live vaccines are important to many livestock farms and key in maintaining good livestock health. I fear disruption in their manufacturing, as has been seen in the past, with batch failures of certain brands.

Due to supply chain concerns our house fridge is filled to bursting – not with food but with our flock’s supply of Heptavac P Plus and Orf vaccines for the next few months.

A ready supply of ice lollies help boost morale at Armadale during the lambing season.

We have a fridge at the farm but I’m not taking the financial risk of it being switched off. I lost my lambing supply of ice lollies a couple of years ago when the farm fridge freezer was unplugged by mistake instead of the lamb heat box – it fairly lowered lambing morale, especially on hot days.

Imagine that, complaining of being too hot at lambing!

Joyce Campbell farms at Armadale on the north coast.

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