May has been an extremely busy, and exceptionally soggy month for us at Ballicherry with a rainfall of 119mm.

Looking back at the records from the on-farm weather station we typically get 25-30mm of rain in May, so this year we have had around four times the usual rainfall – it was very disheartening to see actual ducks swimming in a pond which had formed in our grass re-seed last week!

Carrot lifting is in full swing with lifting of 140-200t a day of carrots, five days a week, come rain or shine! Dad has been trying to drill carrots but was stopped most of last week due to the weather, so thankfully it has dried up this week and he can push on with drilling.

The sprayer has been kept busy with fungicide and trace elements being applied to the wheat and oilseed rape. We've also been getting the herbicide and trace elements onto the spring barley, along with applying liquid fertiliser.

Our oat crops are yet to receive their nitrogen top dressing due to field conditions being too wet at the moment but hopefully we will get this done by the weekend.

Due to the poor weather and lack of grass, we have only just stopped feeding our ewes concentrate feed. We have never had to feed ewes with cobs post lambing before, and we certainly didn’t imagine we would still be feeding them a month after the last ewe had lambed! This extra feed has cost us approximately £3.50 per lamb, but we think it has been money well spent as the lambs are thriving and growing well.

This has also been our first year trying rotational grazing on a reduced grassland area, and while we have certainly missed the scope a larger area would have given us, there’s no way the area we have would have been enough for the stocking density were we not rotationally grazing it, so we can definitely see the benefit of utilising this system.

I have been keeping myself busy in the evenings since lambing finished trying to train my first sheepdog, under the guidance of Jasmine Grant at Braehillor Sheepdog handler training via her online Zoom courses, funding for which I received through the Women in Agriculture training fund.

I was sceptical that my barking, hyperactive youngster would be in anyway trainable, but Jasmine is so knowledgeable and patient she really does give you belief in both yourself and the dog, and we are starting to see results now which is encouraging. Meeting other folk from across the country, albeit virtually, with a common goal, has been really good too, especially since I have not left the Highlands for almost 17 months thanks to a combination of a global pandemic and having a newborn.

Dad and I met up with the three other members of our local Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) group for a walk around some of the group’s wheat and barley crops last week which was a great day out, and finishing the day with a couple of cold beers out in the sun was just perfect!

It was good to see our wheat crops weren’t looking as bad as we were expecting after the recent cold and wet spell, though they are a little short due to the cold weather, so this may affect straw yield come harvest time.

Late drilled spring barley crops have a lot of catching up to do compared to where they normal are at this time of year, hopefully the warm weather forecast this week will help grass and cereal crops grow on... And give us all a chance to start moaning about how hot it is…