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 we approach the last week of March, lambing is now well under way. There is also a good number of calves on the ground as well, which is great to see. Both calving and lambing are, at the moment, proceeding fairly painlessly, although experience tells me this can change in the blink of an eye.
Spring sowing has begun in our area with the recent drier spell, although climatic conditions are still fairly cold and there is little appearance of grass growth on-farm as yet. A contributing factor to this may be that most of our pastures carry some stock throughout the winter months.
However, we are seriously considering a change in this approach for future years as, for the second year in a row, we have significant poaching on fields in which cattle are being fed outside.
With the lack of frost and periods of dry weather, we do not seem to be able to go more than two days between heavy showers and the impact that has on the land and livestock. This also means the ground struggles to carry either the cattle, the tractor or the feed wagon, which can make things more difficult.
It would be nice to see the traditional spring lift in prime sheep prices but trade in our area has been flat or recessive for a long time now.
On the wider farming front, the industry, according to statistics, is a dangerous place to work and live as it copes with the rising toll of health and safety problems. However, last week’s horrific scenes in London when it was hit by the terrorist attack make us glad we live in the quiet calm of the North East countryside in Scotland. Our thoughts, like everyone else’s at the moment, go out to those who were injured and their families.
Nobody should be mercilessly mown down while enjoying a holiday or going about their daily work and it should not happen. It is a reminder to us all who take our farming very seriously that there are other concerns for our governments to concentrate on.