I thought I would end the year with something a little different; a look back at 16 of my favourite things from 2016.

I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy New Year and thank you for the continued support throughout 2016.

Here’s hoping 2017 is a great one for us all.

James

New Zealand Huntaways 

I’ve developed such a bond with Dane that it seems incredible that I’ve only had him since the summer (or that he was ever that small!). I absolutely love this boy to bits and am already hooked on the breed.

Instagram

I’ve really enjoyed using Instagram this year. It was a place for me to continue to enjoy farming, in a friendly, argument free environment post-Brexit. Also, I feel my photos have come on in leaps and bounds this year too! (Thanks Susie Emmmett!)

You can follow me on Instagram at Solway Shepherd.

Trespass

Glasgow based outdoors brand Trespass have recently opened a store in Dumfries, and I’ve already been in and grabbed a good pre-Christmas haul. The Crimp hoodie has already proven to be a great purchase. Affordable, good quality clothes that keep me warm on the farm. Take all my money.

Scottish Blackface

Until recently, I hated Blackies. A result of too many headbutts and horns to the legs while working with other peoples wild hill sheep.

But we bought a batch of draft ewes this Autumn and I’ve been really impressed. Plus, they are a great looking breed of sheep!

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I’m very excited for see their lambs in 2017.

You can find out more about the Scottish Blackface breed through the Scottish Blackface Breeders Association.

Coffee 

I love coffee and I can’t get very far without my first cup of the day. Over the last few years I’ve become really interested in the process and have a secret ambition to learn to be a barista.

I wouldn’t call myself a snob, but your nescafe gold instant just won’t cut the mustard these days.

Thankfully, Iona subscribed me to the Coffee Club monthly subscription from Union, so I never have to be without.

They also once very kindly responded to my plea and sent me a pack of complimentary coffee at shearing time, so they will forever be in my debt!

Clippers

For some reason this summer was absolutely hellish for flies. They were everywhere and every waking hour seemed to be spent clipping wool and trying to beat the maggots both here and on other farms. Luckily, I bought a pair of Lister Laser2 electric clippers from our local merchant and they were, literally, a life saver.

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Dog Motels

I first discovered the New Zealand Dog Motels while away on a lambing job in Cheshire. I was so impressed, I ordered one before I left.

They’re all hand built in Wales by a Kiwi called Grant and can be delivered by pallet nationwide.

Both my dogs love them.

If you’re interested in purchasing a Motel or want some more information, you’ll find everything you need on their website and Facebook page.

FarmLand Magazine

Despite being in existence for little over a year, FarmLand Magazine is already growing rapidly. David and the FarmLand team are great supporters of British farming and do a great job of promoting both the industry and individuals across social media.

I’m looking forward to being a regular contributor in the new year.

World’s Strongest Man

Move aside Home Alone, my new festive favourite is the World’s Strongest Man. I’ve always enjoyed catching WSM here and there, but I’ve become obsessed with it over Christmas 2016. Seeing ‘The Beast’ Eddie Hall become the first man to lift 500kg was insane.

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Eddie Hall lifting a mind boggling 500kg (photo courtesy of Worlds Strongest Man)

This Farming Life

Undoubtedly the greatest bit of TV of 2016, if not the last few years, This Farming Life shared the highs and lows of five farming families across Scotland.

It gave a great insight in to the every day life of very different farming families, and introduced the world to the wonderful Sybil and George Macpherson.

I was lucky to have a good chat with Sybil at the Highland Show this year, and can confirm she’s just as wonderful in real life. A pair of farming heroes.

Wyandottes

I bought a box of hatching eggs along with an incubator at a poultry sale at the beginning of last year and hatched these two crackers (no pun intended) in the middle of lambing 2016.

They’re a beautiful breed of chicken, with some fantastic colourings, and I definitely plan on adding more to the flock over the next few years.

IntegraBoot

The Scottish footwear manufacturer kindly sent me out a pair of wellies to put through their paces and so far I’m suitably impressed! Keep an eye out for a full review in the New Year.

Check out their range of wellies on their website.

Rugby

After falling out of love with the game for 3 or 4 years once I had to give it up, it’s great to finally be able to really enjoy rugby again. Iona starting to play for the local team really reignited my love for it and now whether it’s cheering on the mighty Stewartry Sirens from the sidelines, watching a resurgent Cardiff Blues or tearing my hair out at the ever inconsistent Gloucester and Edinburgh, I realise how much I missed it. I’ve even begun to coach the next generation at the local rugby club, working with (and occasionally swearing at) the Under 16s side.

Podcasts

I love a good podcast. From top agricultural offerings like The Farming Show and BBC’s Farming Today to sports, travel and history (Dan Snow’s History Hit is a personal favourite), there’s something for everyone!

If you’re looking for something to listen to while sat in the tractor or on the daily commute, get a good podcast or two downloaded.

My logo

This one is a bit self indulgent but I absolutely love my new logo. It was designed by the crack team at Creatomatic and turned out better than anything I could have dreamed of.

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If you’re needing something designed, I can highly recommend them!

Singlets

THE discovery of 2016. I don’t think I’ve worn a vest since I was about 5, but in 2016 I learned to love the singlet.

It started with a single Natal Sharks rugby singlet and has already developed in to a small collection. They keep me nice and cool while working in the hot summer sun, stop me sweating to death at shearing time and also help even out that farmer’s tan a little bit!

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Welsh Shearing singlet I picked up at the Highland Show

If you know where I can buy some sweet singlets, PLEASE point me in the right direction and help me feed my addiction!

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