Well, it hardly seems like yesterday since I wrote my first article for The Scottish Farmer. My typing speed has drastically improved due to my broken finger healing well – it’s not perfect and probably never will be but it’s just another ailment to add to the list!

I don’t mean to complain but I have also had a terrible cold and bad cough which seems to have lasted for months. Even the alcohol consumed during a thoroughly enjoyable stag do last weekend (to Newcastle via Scotsheep) failed to cure me.

It’s also been a mixed spell for all sectors of the farm. We are still experiencing very wet conditions which suits Morayshire well but it’s the lack of heat and sunlight that is affecting both crops and livestock. Spring crops are varied with the earlier sown oats and barley looking well on the dry ground at Kennieshillock, but on our other farm, the wetter later sown barley crops are really struggling. Hopefully the next few weeks will see a return of summer.

I have never seen a spring where we’ve so much grass in May. Cows were turned out into embarrassing amounts, resulting in a bit of wastage which I hate to see. My silage was chopped on June 3, with tremendous yields and quality – we were lucky enough to hit three dry days on the trot. I’ll call it good management rather than luck!

The pit is full there’s no need to take a second cut which will now relieve pressure on acres for grazing later in the summer when things inevitably dry up. There are still fields to cut which will either be hay or haylage to feed to dry cows through the winter. Some of the silage aftermath will now be sprayed off while stubble turnips and kale will be direct drilled for winter feeding.

Cows and calves are doing well but the stock is in need of some sun and heat to fully thrive. During some of the cold weather in the first few weeks of May, I had a few calves requiring a second treatment for coccidiosis which was frustrating given that all calves are screened pre-turnout. Maybe it was the extra pressure on the immune system from the cold and wet weather that was enough to make them ill.

All stock bulls are now out running with the cows and seem to be very active so here’s hoping they’re all running on full tanks. I went to the Stirling Bull Sale in May intent on replacing my Salers bull for the heifers and unfortunately I failed in my quest. It wasn’t a hopeful sight for a buyer when prior to the sale of barely 10 bulls, there were 20 people looking to buy one. Although frustrated, I was heartened to see the breeders get a good trade because many a time Salers bulls are undersold.

I think the fact that the bulls last so long means that you only need to replace them when they start coming back on their daughters. I purchased one privately a few weeks later from Alister Mackenzie at Whitebog in the Black Isle and I am very happy with him, so fingers crossed all goes well.

On the sales front, I had a good May, selling all my bulls to a top of 8000gns for my Carlisle champion Teuchter, with all the May bulls bar one heading home with repeat customers. I won’t name you but I am very appreciative of your custom and find it very satisfying in the fact that you come back for another one.

Thoughts now turn to the highlight of the year – the Royal Highland. The buzz you get exhibiting down at Ingliston is second to none – only maybe the late Smithfield show in London could match it.

We were fortunate enough to win the supreme title in 2013 with Elgin Catherine – a day I will never forget and a proud moment for our family. The feeling you get leading out the grand parade on the Sunday is the ultimate stockman’s dream.

The banter in the stocklines beforehand and during the show is tremendous, and the tales that are told round a kist with friends old and new are never forgotten. We have two heifers entered this year, both sired by our stock bull Thurso Paul, a bull we share with his breeder Dave Mackenzie. One of the heifers is the granddaughter of Catherine, so she’s got big boots to fill! While having my dinner tonight the news was full of the Tartan Army in Germany for the Euro. I wish our national team all the best and hope they do themselves proud.

The anthems will be booming in the Highland Hall next week – ‘No Scotland No Party’.