Letter from Edinburgh - Friday 28th April 2017


Being busy in the lambing shed means leaving the mobile phone on the kitchen table. Vodafone’s upgrade means that I can get 4G in the shed. But there is yet to be an app that tells me how to lamb a ewe with both legs back. 

Actually there probably is an app for lambing. And no doubt I could google such things but what the heck. I am a traditionalist.

Learning the art of lambing from shepherds of the past and a SAC lambing course is still best. So the phone can stay at home.

It’s been a few years since I was taught the lambing basics. But they don’t disappear. It fairly helps that the aforementioned lamb coming head first was in an older ewe. The pursuit of both legs was therefore easier and she lambed twins without any extra help.

I have been persuaded, too, on the merits of plastic jackets for the lambs before they leave the warm sanctuary of the shed.

Lambing weather in April seems colder than ever. These new-fangled jackets are therefore a boon. The water runs off the lambs’ backs rather than into their limited wool coating. Lambs come through a bitterly cold night facing the morning and needing their mother’s milk, and not frozen to the core.

I broke from the lambing to attend the Young Enterprise awards on Monday. A big thank you to Sue Beer who has chaired this initiative in recent years and is now handing on the baton.

Encouraging and supporting senior school pupils to explore business ideas and then make, market and sell something is a good idea. As an approach in school it is entirely consistent with Development Scotland’s Young Workforce – a series of recommendations made by Sir Ian Wood, the Aberdeen industrialist.

He wants closer ties between schools, colleges and work. He is quite right.

Fancie Tins from Brae High School won a tight contest with a mobile phone cover business based at AHS. The Brae senior pupils spoke eloquently and answered questions brilliantly. A highly encouraging contest.

Lending a hand over the weekends of the lambing has taken my mind off another election. At least temporarily.

I can well understand Theresa May’s decision. She faced legal action in the English courts over Tory activities in the previous general election. That may have meant difficult by-elections. And she needs to avoid being held to ransom by her own rabid euro sceptics as the Brexit negotiations begin.

She also faces the weakest Labour leader since Michael Foot. So a no brainer.

Scotland will not be the electoral shoo-in the nationalists believe either.

Finally, the best of luck to the Shetland women’s hockey team this weekend in Glasgow. They play the auld enemy – Orkney – in the final of the District Cup. The squad is very well prepared and highly motivated. This will be the match to bring an end a streak of near-misses and bring a national trophy home to Shetland.


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