By Rachel Young

October has been a busy month on the farm getting straw moved into carrot fields ahead of them being strawed down for winter.

We have also had barley and wheat straw leaving farm going to regular local customers and a few new customers in the south of Scotland. There is talk in the press of high straw prices in England due to shortages, but so far we are finding the price is about the same as last year due to big straw yields in the Highland, Moray-shire and Aberdeen-shire areas.

Our own straw yields were very good so we had a surplus, but we have now managed to sell most of this, just leaving a few loads of good quality barley straw stored indoors to sell in the spring. It will be interesting to see what the price does and that will really depend on the weather over winter.

All malting barley has left the farm, and surplus has been sold as feed barley and is awaiting December uplift, along with a few loads of feed wheat which will be leaving here next month. We think our average barley yield across the whole farm is about 3.1t/acre which we are very happy with.

Wheat was all sown in good time before the end of September, all of it going into fields after seed potatoes. Dry conditions at drilling and fields being destoned before the potatoes in the spring left the soil quite powdery. Now that it has turned very wet for the past few weeks, the lack of soil structure is leading to water logging in some parts of fields and has caused barren areas.

Variety wise, this year we are just growing Skyscraper which hopefully we will be able to sell for seed, but if it doesn’t make the grade there is a market for it locally at Invergordon distillery. We hope having one wheat variety will simplify things considerably at harvest time, as opposed to the three varieties we had this year.

Oilseed rape crops are looking well having been drilled early August and getting a good start.

Tups will be going out in the coming week – it’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again, so we have a busy week ahead separating and shifting the ewes into different bunches. Mam bought a new tup a few weeks ago in Dingwall Mart from the Lower Reiss Texel flock, so we are looking forward to seeing his progeny next year.

We had a bit of a scare at the start of the month when the lady who does some of our admin phoned me to say there had been strange activity using one of the farm bank cards and she was worried we had fallen victim to fraud. All in a panic that we’d had our account hacked I was about to phone the bank but thought I’d better tell Dad first.

He confessed that following a ‘dispute’ with Mam over her suggesting it was time to replace our 14-year-old Mitsubishi pick-up, and him suggesting she should just clean it, he was in the dog house and went shopping in Inverness for her birthday. Considering the last time he bought her a birthday present was almost 20 years ago in the form of a personalised wheelbarrow, it is not surprising a transaction in a jewellers nearly triggered the fraud squad! Maybe she’ll get the new pick-up for Christmas… But more likely it’ll be another wheelbarrow!