Is it ever going to dry up? The weather over the last six month period has led to horrendous ground conditions and flooding in many of our fields.

By November 12, we had already had 55mm of rain for this month, which fell onto already saturated ground. As a result, we didn’t drill as much wheat as we had intended to, with only about 45ha going in in the end.

The crops we did get drilled aren’t looking great with most fields having areas of poor emergence and flooding. We haven’t managed to get on with any pre-emergence herbicides and have now returned the chemical – so all in all, winter crops have got off to a very shaky start!

The last few weeks have been busy, though, with straw and feed wheat moving from the farm, along with dad doing a couple of days a week at the local Christmas tree harvest with one of our tractors.

We’ve also been working with sheep, sorting our ewes into batches for the tups which went out on November 2 and moving lambs about. We had drilled a field of fodder rape in July after silage, later than we had hoped to do so, but we couldn’t get a break in the weather to do it and had intended to move all the lambs on to just now.

But, with the weather being so awful after it was drilled, the crop hasn’t come to much in places, so we have only been able to move our cull ewes and a small number of lambs on to it. Because of that, we have rented a field of fodder neeps from a neighbour who didn’t need them and moved our lambs onto them last week.

Once they have eaten their way through that, we will have to buy some concentrates to finish the job. We haven’t sold any of our lambs yet and hopefully this might pay off as the price seems to have lifted in the past few days.

The next few weeks will also see us start our benchmarking for 2018/2019 season using the AHDB 'Farm Bench' system. We’ve been benchmarking for a number of years and definitely find it a useful exercise.

In the past it has highlighted to us areas we were overspending on and allowed us to make changes to tighten things up in these areas, while it also acts to reassure us that our yields and the prices we are getting are in line with other members of the group.

Fortunately our new tractor hasn’t arrived on farm yet, so we won’t need to include it in this years’ benchmarking – phew!

FACT file:

Rachel farms at her family’s 350-hectare Ballicherry Farm, in the Black Isle, with her parents, Brian and Caroline Matheson. It is mainly arable, growing spring barley, wheat and oilseed rape, though they also have 150 Texel cross ewes.