July is almost at an end and it is amazing how fast these long days pass, I swear they go twice the speed of the long, dark winter ones.

The last month has been spent getting sheds mucked out and power washed ready for harvest, and having a general tidy up around farm.

We sprayed our oilseed rape off last week, so weather dependant, harvest will be starting around the second week of August for us.

We don’t grow winter barley, but locally, the majority of the winter barley has been combined, and we were out last week contract baling and chasing winter barley straw. Roguing of seed wheat, spring barley and oat crops is has come to an end and inspections have been completed with no issues. I enjoy roguing as it is a good chance to have a detailed look at how crops are progressing. Spring barley crops look to be a real mixed bag and how good or bad they look is totally dependent on drilling date with the earliest and the late drilled crops looking well, but those drilled around the last week of March looking thin and starey.

Cover crops for our AECS green manure have been very slow to emerge though eventually have appeared with a lovely display of purple phacelia and crimson clover now visible, though it is definitely not as well established as it has been in previous years.

Talking to our seed supplier and drilling it late April was probably an error as the soils were still cold, but we did this to get it done before carrot harvesting began in earnest.

We had 30mm of rain over the past week which was sorely needed and carrot crops are looking much better as a result, as are grass fields.

All lambs are weaned, and have been dosed with trace elements and wormer, and moved on to fresh grass. We are hoping to get the majority fattened straight of the grass, and what’s left in the autumn fattened off fodder crop which we drilled after carrots in June.

I have bought three loads of liquid fertiliser, one for September delivery, and two for delivery next spring, priced at £500/t plus. With the price of grain falling, I’m unsure if this was the right thing to do as we may now see the price of fertiliser fall due to the Russians opening export markets. I know I am not the only person who has done this as I have seen a number of sheds and fertiliser tanks locally filled with next year’s fertiliser.

We are holding Scotgrain’s Highland area spring barley plots on farm again, with the event due to take place on Thursday (August 4).

It will be interesting to hear which varieties the maltsters think have potential, though at the moment Sassy, Laureate and Diablo seem to be the main players.

The next few weeks will be busy getting the drier, shed and machines set up for harvest and getting oilseed rape ground ploughed and drilled. We've bought a second-hand side knife for our combine header which we need to fit, so that we can direct cut the rape instead of getting a neighbour to cut it for us.

At the start of the month we finally got a new pick-up, having ordered it back in October 2021! Our Mitsibushi L200, which Dad bought as an ex-demonstrator in 2006, has been on a restricted use licence for the last three years, and the automatic gearbox was only capable of reverse or second gear. It’s last job was floating the ewes home for clipping, but even with me attempting to push it up the track out of the field we had to accept defeat and drop the float on the road, returning home for the tractor to take the sheep home. On getting the L200 home, we realised the chassis had snapped in half between the cab and the pick-up bed, and it has now gone off to the big scrap yard in the sky. Hopefully the next one lasts us another 16 years, but as they say, they don’t make ‘em like they used to…