Hope and happiness can be found even in the darkest of hours - Jill Thorp

And just like that it was gone, undoubtedly resigned to the history books. 2020, a year few of us will forget and most will be glad to see the back of.

After a tough year there is reason to be hopeful about 2021, says Jill Thorp. (Gary Longbottom).

A year filled with worry and division and immense stress for many.

Our year has rumbled on just like many before it. Our work dictated by the seasons, our animals keeping us going through some worrying times. We’ve been lucky to have John-William at home for a large part of the year. We’ve watched him grow beyond his years and been grateful for such quality time with him.

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He’s lambed sheep, he’s bedded down, mucked out and fed countless pens. His little hands have gripped the front legs of a calf and pulled it out into the world, collapsing in the straw afterwards, a great beaming smile, ear to ear.

The inevitable return to school has been a difficult one for him, the sudden structure and confines of the classroom a bitter pill for him to swallow after months of freedom.

Our year ended with the misery of dealing with a dog attack on some lambs grazing at Lepton near Huddersfield. The words “there’s a dog in with your sheep” always fills us with dread. On this occasion several were lost, many others badly injured.

Sadly, the constant threat to livestock by irresponsible dog owners that walk unchecked across farmland is spiralling out of control.

Despite heightened publicity, attacks are on the increase, leaving many farmers financially and emotionally drained. I was first to the scene, with John-William in tow. Not pleasant for him to see, but he can’t be shielded from everything. He dealt with it in his usual stoic manner, calmly and with the maturity of a grown man.

The turmoil of the virus has somewhat overshadowed the Brexit debacle but as the year has ended, we’ve all had to face up to the implications of a split from Europe. As a family, we refuse to be dragged down by it and welcome the challenges the New Year will no doubt bring.

We have farmed for generations and like many before us we will continue to work the land and feed the sometimes ungrateful nation. We will diversify and evolve to cope with the uncertainty that lies ahead and continue to encourage people to buy locally grown and reared produce.

We’ve brought the majority of our straw home from where we bale it over near Doncaster. With such appallingly wet conditions of late and a poor harvest, straw is in demand.

Our last trip was made just before Christmas and after some discussion we decided to make the trip without an armed convoy to protect our precious load! Needless to say it made it home without being poached along the way!

We’ve managed to keep our spirits high and have done our best to help and support those in need. On that note we wish everyone the best of health for the New Year, but above all, courage.

After all, hope and happiness can always be found in the darkest of hours.