Five and a half inches of rain in September is well above the monthly average, but it’s the lack of two dry days together that has been tiresome. Willie the combine driver says it’s not as bad as 1985 – just!

Our job at harvest amounts only to having to pick up the phone to the baling contractor – and thankfully he has been able to oblige with haste. With the forecast as it has been, we’ve been working on the assumption that straw will be as dry as it will get just behind the combine. Both the quality and quantity of straw is poor, but thankfully the earlier-bought straw should cover the shortfall.

The first draw of May-born lambs has gone. If we were better organised, we could have had some sooner, but the over-weights will be used in butchered boxes shortly. This load was similar timing to last year and marginally heavier – they returned £109.60 with all costs off.

That tops all lots sold last year and comes in about £10 up on the same week. These are the highest-value first-draw lambs we have sold. Little wonder there is so much optimism in ram sales.

Just over half the Luing steers joined them on the lorry to the abattoir – having been in for a night, but straight off grass. They might have benefited from a bite of barley at troughs over the last six weeks, but we don’t have the kind of land that would recover from the mess they’d have made. They have hung up to an average of 320kg at 17-18 months and graded mostly Rs and all 4L. At just over £1500, they are £150 up on last year’s lot at the same weight. Their Simmental cross brothers were valued at about £1200 through the ring as stores in March, and these lads haven’t cost us much other than a field of grass since then.

The sisters of these steers are a bumper crop of heifers coming into the herd – and with so many potential replacements, we decided to cut hard into the older and poorer performing cows. All the heifers were bulled and 25 cows have now been weaned and gone, returning a little over £1300, which is slightly less than last year. Most were about the average, with two extremes at a measly £800 and a whopping £1800 – neither of them quite the portrait of an efficient suckler cow! They make way for a new generation of hopefuls.

With scanning next week, we hope that there aren’t too many more to go down the road.

There has been quite a bit of ram sale aftermath this past month. Firstly a bit of sleep to catch up on, and we have all seen a bit of country between a couple of holidays and some ram deliveries.

We were in Norfolk looking for a new Lleyn stock ram – and saw sheep running on some pretty tough heath country, but just around the corner from carrots, onions, and pigs. Sheep were already grazing off cover crops grown after cereals and were hard to spot among the feed.

My understanding is that cover crops are supposed to capture the energy from the sun and preserve it in the soil for the following crop, with the living roots having the added benefit of keeping the soil microbes happier than if it was bare stubble for a spell.

Seeing the sheer volume of herbage produced down south, compared to the meagre crops even on the good farms around here, reinforces just how much further north we are. It also brings to mind the quizzical look on the French summer student’s face as we talk through the pros and cons of solar panels. “Solar panels work in Scotland?? …but they need sun,” was his reaction!

I have been on a pony-trekking holiday in Romania with some friends. We had six long days in the saddle and covered 170kms through the Carpathian Mountains. Strava claims our altitude ranged from 2000 to 5000 feet above sea level and we certainly seemed to cover quite a bit of uphill.

A lot of the country was a mixture of conifer and beech forest, but we must have trekked through grass plains that would have fed thousands of cattle. We’d only see maybe 250 cows and 1000 sheep and goats – all in small lots, each with a herder and four or five big guard dogs. The cows were mostly milking Simmental types and although they might have looked a bit out of place at the bull sales in Stirling later this month, the cheese they produced was fantastic – second only to the blaeberry liquor that seemed to appear every time we got off the horses.

Stock was all corralled at night back in the villages to keep them safe from bears and wolves. We didn’t come across any wolves but saw plenty of bear tracks and a few close encounters. The Transylvania area we were in was very beautiful and the trek was a great way to meet the people on the land. I did get bitten, but it was from a horse rather than a vampire.

Neil was left looking after himself as both kids are now off to college. He seems to have fed himself on mostly blueberries as far as I can gather, pick-your-own, as there are not enough Romanians in Blairgowrie anymore.

We are both glad, then, to be back to porridge for breakfast. Eggs are still in short supply after a fox massacre in early summer, but new poults are due soon. They have been really hard to source due to bird flu restrictions and general egg market mayhem. Hopefully, if they come in as an ‘autumn calving herd’, they will lay well through this winter and continue for the summer.