Today, we can finally say goodbye to the long, dark month that is January, named after the Roman god 'Janus'. (Latin for door). Janus has two faces which allowed him to look both backwards into the old year and forwards into the new one at the same time. 'He was the spirit of opening'.
As farmers, it is important for us to reflect upon what we did right and how we can improve.
Epiphany meaning a moment of clarity, a sudden revelation of deep understanding and I think it's safe to say January gives us plentiful time to do this especially during a pandemic.
January seems so long, and tests even the most chirpiest of people to their depths, challenging us all to find the slightest signs of hope. As we walk among our flocks,with the sound of the crisp frost beneath our feet, we are blessed to witness the small changes of nature.
As our days begin at dawn, it gives us pleasure to watch the sunrise, observe the beauty of the outdoors, thinking about the moment we can go back indoors to the warm, but noticing the signs that the door is opening to a bright new year.
Working alongside nature, moving sheep pasture to pasture, tending to our flocks, safeguarding from predators and ensuring they are intact is a daily routine. But as February approaches we are reminded that Spring is coming. St Brigid's Day marking the end of winter and the beginning of early spring and falls as lambing begins for some.
For us, as we don't start lambing until the warmer months, we wait with anticipated breathe for new life as the sight of lambs scattering the fields is well known as a welcome sight, representing new beginnings.
When it comes to delivery, lots of ewes will deliver their offspring unassisted out in the field. But we will be on hand night and day to keep a close eye in case there are any problems. Some ewes, especially first time mums, will be brought into the lambing shed to give birth in case they need a helping hand.
But while lambing is an incredibly intense time in farming, the work starts well in advance. To ensure that our flocks will cope with particular types of terrain or climate, or can produce a specific end product, British farmers have to carefully examine the characteristics of ewes and rams when preparing the breeding process, adding ‘genetic expertise’ to their broad list of skills.
Our farm shop unfortunately has suffered with the long, winter months also, testing our resilience to the max and February cannot come soon enough. It's like the turning of a page in a book. With each page the story grows and your mind can look forward to a fresh start after a period of difficulties.
With this in mind, we have been concentrating our efforts on digital marketing strategy, developing our skill sets to be effective in the ever changing world which is a common challenge since many businesses know how vital digital and mobile channels are today for acquiring and retaining customers.
So, the good news is that however gloomy January seems, there is light around the corner and we are determined it's going to be a happy one, breathing life back into our community.