Charles Bruce farms near Banff, Aberdeenshire, and has 98 hectares (242 acres) of owned land, 76ha (188 acres) of malting barley which is contract farmed, and rented seasonal grazings extending to 40ha (99 acres). Running an 80-cow fold of pedigree Highland cattle, these are used to supply an on-farm butchery business and his Bogside Farm Shop. There is a commercial ewe flock of about 230-head and a trout fishery is also run as part of the business.
As May passes by all too quickly we are still trying to catch up on routine spring tasks such as fencing and turning cattle out to grass.
It has always led to a sense of relief and satisfaction when steers are turned out to green and lush pastures as it usually signals the end of the winter feeding routine for cattle.
However, this year we are set to continue to feed the cows carrots to help keep the milk on them after a hard winter and early spring.
It also hopefully helps put back some condition on the younger and older cows which seem to be the worst affected by the wet and the cold winds.
To allow the grass to grow for the cattle we have sold half our ewes with lambs at foot over the past four weeks. Trade has been fairly steady with our Texel cross ewes and lambs selling to average £70/life with an average of 1.7 lambs per head.
Our Scotch Mule ewes with just short of two lambs per head are averaging £64/life and only time will tell if they have been sold to advantage or not.
We are this year starting to convert to organic so our stock numbers have to come back in line with our available acres, unless our summer grazings are also willing to convert. A conversation with the state factor has been quite encouraging.
Some of our spring barley fields have had the gates closed until harvest time so the near perfect growing conditions are most welcome.
The farm we operate on a contract farming basis has had wild oat problems for many years now which we cannot seem to get on top of and a small fortune over the years has been paid out in chemicals.
This year we are using a spray early before the weed sprays and early fungicides are due to be applied as there is a carpet of wild oats in the worst fields.
This spring, growing conditions for the wild oats seem to have been ideal for their germination so hopefully this will help eliminate the problem as we are hoping to take out vast numbers prior to affecting the growing of the spring barley.