Pinch and a punch for the first day of the month.
So where did the first half of this year just disappear to? It has just shot by. Clearly we are busier, of that there is no doubt. We calved the largest amount cows this spring since we took over the farm nearly four years ago. It should have been more but our Shorthorn Bull Fergus was firing one or two blanks and so only got half his cows into calf. Added to that we had one or two calves that for one reason or the other just didn’t make it. It happens and we have had 3 excellent calvings up until now so we were due a more difficult one. It is still hard to take though.
On the flip side, the calves that we do have are looking great and I am delighted to say that 80% of our calf crop this year are Highland and Highland cross calves which will mean more Highland beef coming through our shop. Yum!
We also welcomed a new arrival to Edinvale in the form of a strapping young lad called Lerwick. Lerwick is a Shorthorn bull from our friends John and Fiona at Fearn Farm in Tain. They have some amazing breeding stock, and whilst what we do here will always be about the Highlands, the Shorthorn breed is vital to us to provide the year round consistency of beef required for our shop. He is already out working and seems to be an instant hit with the ladies!
The nursery that our middle daughter Tilly goes to came and visited the farm this spring as well. It is always a delight to have young folk come and visit and see what we do as by and large, they are very interested but also, really enthusiastic. It always amazes me the questions that get asked, often far more sensible than you get from an adult! Anyway we think it is really important to show people what we do and we have been delighted to have also welcomed the chefs from One One Two on the Brae in Nairn and Arisaig House near Mallaig to the farm. The enthusiasm they show for food is incredible and we are humbled to be part of their story.
We have also been pushing ahead with the way in which we graze our animals and given the pressure agriculture is coming under for its environmental impact, it is vital that we keep doing this. Last year we started to rotationaly graze our animals, which means splitting the field that would normally be in into six equal sized paddocks and restricting them to the grass in one of those paddocks. We then move them after about 3 1/2 days into the next paddock and so on until we are back where we started after about three weeks. The advantages of doing this is you grow more grass because the paddocks are being rested, we can grow more cattle because we have more grass, the grass the cattle are eating is better quality so they grow a bit quicker, and the grass that we grow sequesters more carbon and locks it deeper in the ground. We had game changing benefits to our stock that were on the system last year and we are trying to improve on it this year.
We are just about at the end of the first cut of silage now. We were spoilt last year with wall to wall sunshine and we could just turn up in a field and away we could go. This year has been more challenging with us having to hunt weather windows to get it done. It has meant one or two really late nights and we are hugely grateful to our team who do it without complaint. However we were needing the rain as, even now, the ground it still quite dry and this time last year we were desperately short of water. Us farmers are never happy!
Oh, white rabbits!