Farmer Focus: Shop sales have gone through the roof

It’s amazing to think that only a few weeks ago my wife Michelle and I were enjoying a fantastic concert at the SSE Hydro Glasgow with the Stereophonics and a few thousand others.

Now, like everyone else, we are in lockdown. Although as Michelle has pointed out to me, my life hasn’t changed a lot – farming is a fairly solitary life.

One thing that has changed in our shop is the amount of business we are doing. Sales have rocketed and we’ve been working our socks off.

Luckily, two of my daughters have no university or school to go to and have been a massive help. I am very lucky to have the team I have.

See also: Coronavirus: Young farmer makes ‘stay at home’ plea

Orders have been coming in from all over the country and we have struggled to keep up.

I have been out with van-loads locally and the courier has been collecting van-loads to go further afield.

The big issue has been stock. At least with Christmas you know it’s going to happen on the same date every year and can plan for it – this was completely unexpected.

We have never handled so much beef and lamb in such a short period.

It shows how fragile our whole food supply chain is, with the supermarkets all operating a “just in time” system that can’t cope in an emergency.

We have dealt with a huge number of new customers, many of whom came to us because they couldn’t get any meat in the supermarket. Hopefully now they have found us they will stay.

If anyone ever needed convincing that we need a strong British agricultural industry, this crisis has proved it. I hope people in government now realise that relying on food imports would be a disaster.

It’s been a massive challenge, but nothing compared with the challenge Michelle has faced home schooling the kids. As usual, she has taken it in her stride.

One of the biggest disappointments of the past few weeks has been not being able to travel over to Northern Ireland to celebrate my Mum’s 90th birthday.

We will just have to make Dad’s 90th in August a double celebration.

Stay safe everyone and Happy Birthday Mum.