“Although some will have finished, for most sheep farmers lambing is just around the corner. It’s a great time of the year when, if we’ve got things right, we start to see the fruits of our labour.

“Even when it goes well its hard work, with long hours that can test tempers. When things don’t go so well it can leave you feeling isolated and alone. At times like these it’s good to talk. There will always be someone who has been through even worse times and who will listen and, if it’s easier to talk to someone other than family or friends, we are fortunate to have organisations who have specialists to support farming people who are struggling. Remember, feeling down or depressed is not a failing or a weakness, it’s far more common than many people think.

“You’d be right to think NSA’s core interest is sheep, but in a sheep-farming context sheep are nothing without people. And NSA is an organisation for people – our sheep farmers, shepherds, vets, advisers and a host of others who work within and on the fringes of our great industry.

“In its wake, sheep farming creates a landscape that most people appreciate, a reservoir of soil carbon and, at various levels, habitats for nature. We have never ignored the social side of sheep farming. It’s the bedrock of many remote rural communities and services, and contributes sustainably to local economies. It supports tourism and many other rural businesses, and sheep farming still offers attractive jobs and achievable business opportunities for young people making that first step on the farming ladder. But this year I believe we need to step up the focus on our people.

"NSA Scot Sheep and NSA Sheep 2022 are very definitely scheduled for this summer. I hope as many members as possible will join us for a real celebration, putting our community and friendships firmly back on track, alongside all the technical and business activities on offer.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive