John Gordon: Perhaps we should be thankful for small mercies

THE end of July and it’s pouring with rain again. We have almost 6ha (14 acres) of silage lying and we’re meant to be going on holiday in two days! Can someone have a word upstairs and sort out a dry day or two?

There has been almost a fortnight of rain now and grass growth has slowed considerably. We had one exceptionally fine week at the end of June when we filled the pit with 40ha (100 acres), baled 500 bales and managed to shear the remaining 550 ewes. Maybe we should be thankful for small mercies.

We had a good start with fat lambs, having almost 100 of the earliest away - averaging £68 a head. Our later lambs are all treated with a fly-strike protector, so we won’t get any more away until the beginning of August.

Electronic tagging of sheep now to looks to be a foregone conclusion and although they will be read at the mart or abattoir, we will still need to buy a reader for hoggs going away for wintering - another cost enforced on us by regulation.

Plenty of grass for weaning

Bulls have been taken away from the cows, and one has had its feet pared by the vet in preparation for the back-end calvers. Spring calves will shortly be given a creep feed when ewes and lambs are moved to other pasture.

Silage aftermaths have been spread with well rotted FYM, and nitrogen will be applied at 180kg/ha (1.5 cwt/acre) at the beginning of August. This should mean plenty of grass for weaning calves and lambs in the next few weeks. The turnips have also come on well and are now shaking hands.

We have had a 360-degree digger working on the hill, clearing whins and gorse. We are also going to try a flail/slasher to see which method works best.

Despite the fire brigade being warned by telephone, previous attempts to burn the whins have usually resulted in a visit from a fire engine with sirens going and lights flashing, worrying that Huntly is in danger of burning down!

Ewan and Doug came home from New Deer Show with a first prize ticket for a yearling Charolais calf. There weren’t many in class but they were pleased.

It’s still raining, so I’ll go and pack my suitcase and see if I can delay our holiday for another day!

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