The first weekend in October saw us at the farmers’ market in Huntly town square, despite continuous heavy rain the customers turned up in their usual good numbers and good spirits to provide us with a good day’s trading.
Interestingly, the wearing of masks was about 50 per cent, although it is not mandatory to wear a mask outdoors (I believe), but it is not easy to keep up with rules which seem to change every day for every different part of the country.
My usual visits to the mart at this time of year to buy rams and replacement ewes have been a less than satisfying experience. It is usually a job in which my son Rob goes with me and we choose by committee which ewes or rams we bid on and if we cannot afford our first picks we go back to the pens and choose again.
However, this is no longer allowed as the penning areas are secure once the sale starts. We are also no longer allowed to go together as only one person per business can attend the sales.
We ended up buying a ram each. The ram I bought was a Suffolk ram lamb at the Thainstone sale costing 900gns and Rob attended the ram sale at Huntly and purchased a Texel shearling ram for 1,300gns. His choice will also be used on his small flock of pure Texels.
The cattle are still all in the fields due to grain still occupying the space where the finishing steers should be.
Harvest in Aberdeenshire is mostly complete, with just the odd field of straw left to bale. It has been a very mixed affair with some outstanding yields and good quality heavy grain, with a fairly common problem of skinned grains in malting samples.
Other areas in Scotland do not seem to have faired so well, with very mixed samples and varied yields.
Looking forward to next year the establishment of winter barley and oilseed rape crops is looking very good.
Although there is a long way to go until next year’s harvest, a good start to anything is always important.
The annual gathering of Highland cattle breeders to Oban is due this weekend, with only a tiny offering of 19 haltered cattle compared to 105 at last year’s sale. Most of the trading this year will have to be done privately.
My twice-yearly trips to Oban are usually some of the highlights of my limited social calendar as it is good to catch up with like-minded people for a dram and to put the world to rights. When will we get back to some kind of normality?
Please stay safe. Enjoyment will eventually return to life.