A FURIOUS farmer from Barrhill contacted the Gazette at the weekend to complain about an apparently inexplicable increase in the cost of buying food for his freezing feathered friends.
The man estimated that the cost of providing nuts for wild birds had risen by at least 37 per cent over the winter.
And he said the fault lay with the suppliers, rather than retailers locally.
Along with the many other wildlife lovers who do their bit to make sure all creatures great and small have enough to eat when temperatures plummet to near Arctic sub-zero conditions, the farmer is having to reconsider how much emergency aid is available. He may just have to pick a pecker or two.
Of course, the reason for the soaring prices could be entirely innocent - a combination of poor harvest, higher transport charges through a shortage of crude oil and restricted supply due to the exceptionally harsh winter weather.
Less charitably, it could also be down to greed and a cynical decision by some to play on the kind hearts of people who would rather go without themselves than see any living thing suffer.
Are we paying more than is fair in other areas simply because the public assume that any price rise is either the result of market conditions or a knock-on effect caused by cost-cutting governmental measures?
Undoubtedly, the situation will become even more confused with the introduction of new VAT levels this week.
Some businesses promise to absorb the higher rate in the short-term but is everyone who starts adding 20 per cent to the purchase price VAT-rated?
If you feel you’re being cheated simply because of the current climate - economic or otherwise - please let us know!