It’s all go at this time of year for us here at Ballicherry, as I’m sure it is on most farms across Scotland.

Both ploughs have been going, trying to cover all the spring barley, potato and carrot ground and we will hopefully make a start at sowing spring barley this weekend depending on the weather. Although it has been dry the last week or so, ground conditions have not been all that great with us, so we are feeling a little behind with ploughing.

We’ve also been trying to get the 60 acres of green manure cover crops – which are grown as part of the agri environment climate scheme (AECS) – topped which hasn’t been easy with the wet ground conditions.

Not being able to destroy these till after March 1 for spring cropping is a real pain and just adds to the long list of tasks which all seem to need done at the same time. This is our last year in the AECS with no sign of it being renewed at the moment, which is unfortunate as we feel like we’ve just got a handle on getting the most from it, like which cover crops grow well with us and the best way to establish them.

Winter wheat and oilseed rape crops had their first top dressing of solid nitrogen and an application of potash earlier in the month and all crops appear to be green and growing in the recent warm weather.

Cropping wise for this year, we’re growing roughly 350 acres of spring barley, with Sassy and Diablo for seed and Sassy for malting. We’re also going to grow 25 acres of oats after last years success growing them for milling. This year we are growing some on a milling contract and some on a seed contract.

We’ll have the usual 60 acres of green manure cover crops going in too, and we are renting ground out for both tatties and carrots. The carrots drilled last spring are still in the ground and Huntapac, the company that grows them, are happy they are keeping well with our cool northern climate, so hopefully we won’t start harvesting them until we are clear of sowing cereals, probably in about a month’s time.

Lambing is about to kick off too, so we have been busy the last week getting sheds set up in preparation to take the ewes in and moving them back closer to home.

We have been toying with the idea of trying a partial outdoor lambing as the twin carrying ewes are now in a field right beside the steading, so we may see how we get on lambing them outside to start with and always have the option to take them in if the weather gets bad or we are finding it too difficult.

We will definitely lamb the triplets and singles indoors so we can foster lambs off triplet mothers with ease. Mam has decided that due to problems with an arthritic knee she would take a backseat for lambing and instead be chief babysitter for nine-month-old Ellie. However, she got a steroid injection into her knee last week and is now feeling pain free and is full of steroid induced energy.

Hopefully she will be able to help out a bit at lambing too now, though we’ll have to check out NSA Scotland’s views on lambers using performance enhancing drugs...