Trees pressure land market

Life is starting to return to something resembling normal in Scotland following the most recent Covid-19 lockdown, John Scott writes.

In Home Block6 Minutes

Life is starting to return to something resembling normal in Scotland following the most recent Covid-19 lockdown, John Scott writes.

EVERY TIME I SIT DOWN TO WRITE for this wonderful publication I scan my previous offering to see what I said, first to avoid repeating myself (seeing as I am losing memory as well as hair) and secondly to see if there are any common themes I can pick up on to keep you up to date on what’s happening.

Covid-19, for example, has been mentioned fairly often but I didn’t think for one minute as we ease nervously out of lockdown in the United Kingdom that New Zealand would be in lockdown with all the joy that that brings to a nation.

I say nervously because for us life has more or less returned to normal with the exception of foreign holidays, not a huge impact on me, although I do like a jaunt to Rome in the spring for the rugby and I like to find an excuse to visit your country once in a while.

Hang in there you will get through it, I dare say Jacinda will eventually extract the digit and get you all jabbed and back to normal.

Trade for sheep has remained between buoyant and “on fire” throughout our summer, I don’t think anyone predicted it but my word it’s been most welcome and shows little sign of easing.

With that in mind we haven’t pulled the ewe numbers back as drastically as we considered buthave tweaked lambing dates to spread the workload.

I hadn’t really planned to lamb ewes again indoors in February but we have the setup for it and it will take the pressure off the main April lambing.

Anything older or with a broken mouth will be lambed early to a terminal sire with the view to cashing everything, lambs and ewes before the end of June.

Son James has produced the mating plan for this flock which I will follow as he skips off back to college in Edinburgh. With his younger sister Izzy heading even further south to do Agribusiness, it’s going to be a little quieter around the house.

It’s great that two of our kids are studying agriculture, there’s so much opportunity for their generation, hopefully they will continue to be inspired and will find fulfilling careers following further education and a bit of travel.

Not sure what the younger two Lexie and Archie will do yet, they have different interests and hobbies which may lead them to careers outside the industry. It’s really hard to tell at this stage but we may brainwash them yet now that the older two have jumped ship!

Our small area known as Easter Ross has recently seen not one but two farms on the market with another two allegedly available at the right price. We tried and failed to buy the neighbouring block which made £400/ha ($NZ776) more than anyone thought. It sold for  NZ4656/ha.

It’s hard to compete with non-farming money and with forestry money now creeping down the hillside on to decent arable farms we find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. Thankfully we have a bit of scale at the moment but with our lease due to finish on a hill block nearby I am a little concerned about the future and whether we can maintain what we are doing.

For me it’s about balance, surely at some stage our governments will realise that we need a balance between agriculture and forestry, there are plenty of areas suitable for trees without utilising good farms which have supported families for decades whilst producing food to feed the world.

Unfortunately, just like NZ, we seem to have a government in the UK which is becoming increasingly detached from rural industry. It’s great to share this common problem. If you find a solution please let us know.

Thankfully the Lions tour is over, as a passionate Scotsman I dared to dream that the rugby gods’ cunning plan whereby Finn Russell would come on to save the day by playing stylish creative rugby would come to fruition. Alas it was not to be and the series was another Warrenball fest where dull rugby was the theme, at least last time Sonny Bill helped even things up a bit.

I think we have now had our share of Gatland, please keep him busy especially in four years’ time, if you’re going to send us anyone send us Scott Robertson – we could use his creativity especially if Gregor Townsend were to move on.