By Graeme Mather

Since mid June we have seen a settled spell of warm weather, with enough moisture to keep the grass green and make it grow at phenomenal rates.

Our first cut of silage was completed by the end of June, with the pits full to capacity, complete with a good number of quality round bales made. Comparing the crop to last year when the weather was so dry, we have probably produced 25%-30% more crop which is great news when supplies were so tight in 2018.

The past few days have also seen us start the first of our second cut, which is used for the sheep and young stock when weaned off their mothers. This is cut using our Kverneland 4332 mower and spread wide and flat to allow as much moisture as possible to evaporate. It was then raked up, baled and wrapped as quickly as possible by the Shandford team.

As it is the summer holidays, the last part of this process saw three generations of the family complete the operation with grand-dad loading the bales onto the wrapper, Fallon my daughter working the wrapper and myself stacking them for storage. We have managed, again only due to the ideal moist and warm weather conditions, to take a cut off of newly reseeded grass in the spring. We are however, all still grateful the silage making process is over as for all some bumper crops have been produced, changeable weather meant it was not nearly as smooth and quick as last year’s operation.

The oldest of our lambs were weaned last week with a 80kg Texel cross rearing a pair of Suffolk lambs weighing 48kg and 48.5kg at just 91 days of age! Many breeds finish at much older than this, so it is difficult to argue against the Suffolk cross.

As mentioned last time when worming our lambs, a sample was taken and tested to identify which type of worms were present. Treatment was given and a second sample was taken,which came back negative so we are confident that we are worming correctly and keeping on top of the problem.

We also gathered the sheep off the hill just after the Highland Show for shearing and tick treatment, which must have come as a welcome relief too them during such hot days when I was the only one who suffered from sun burn. The whole team worked hard to return the sheep back to the hill where they are happiest and thrive.

The last of the heifers were all calved before the Highland Show and we now only have eight cows to calve down which we are hopeful will all safely deliver by the end of July. Our Angus finishing cattle which are out are out at pasture are looking well and fleshing up nicely, and with plentiful greenery in front of them they should finish without the need of supplementary concentrate feeding.

We have a busy few months coming up though as hosts of the International Sheep Dog Trials 2019 which runs from September 13-15, here at Shandford, which we are thrilled about. We are currently upgrading the hill road and access ready for the visitors.

The fields in which it will be held are 1000ft above sea level and have astounding views for miles around. It will be a challenging course for both dogs and handlers but immensely enjoyable for both spectators and participants. So here’s hoping for some beautiful sunshine for the big event...