Winter crops were all drilled at Ballicherry by October 7, which is a week or so later than when we’d hoped to, nonetheless, ground conditions were still reasonable. Since then, the weather has been a good bit wetter so we didn’t manage to roll the last 17ha, and the sprayer made a bit of a mess doing the pre-em.

Last week we got the light leaf spot spray and trace elements on the oilseed rape (OSR), which is maybe a tad early, but again, with the change in the weather we thought it would be better to get it on now rather than make a mess putting it on any later, or like last year, not manage to get it on at all.

We’ve yet to order any solid fertiliser for next year in the hope that the price would start to come down a bit, as we bought it expensive at this time last year, but the price then stabilised and we could have bought it for the same or less later in the spring. However, all reports seemed to be saying that the price is just going to keep going up so we will need to get it ordered in the next week or two.

We bought four loads of liquid fertiliser in June 2018 for spring 2019 delivery, and got it for considerably less than what the price is now, so that was definitely a good move.

Overwintering cows will be arriving within the next week, and the tups went out on bonfire night. The cattle will be getting fed a mix of straw, silage and draff this year as we’ve decided not to buy pot ale due to it's increasing cost, and we also reckon we’ll have enough silage.

At the beginning of the October we held a wedding on the farm for a couple who found us last summer via our Facebook page and were looking for a barn to hold a wedding reception for 180 people. We charged a very small fee to the couple for hiring the sheds but on the agreement that we would get to run the bar.

They hired their own lighting and toilet caravan and put up partitions in the shed to make a kitchen area for their caterer. The couple were so laid back, and were delighted that they could bring along their dog, horse and rally car to the farm and seemed to have a great day. The wedding industry is big business right now, and it seems many people are diversifying farm buildings into quirky venues, where people can hold their own DIY-style wedding.

Our main issue is that the suitable buildings on our farm are at the front of our main working yard so could cause a bit of a logistical nightmare at busy times of year. That being said, if we were to hold more in future we would probably only take bookings from the end of May to early August, as we are just too busy in April, August and September and it’s just too cold for ‘shed-ings’ in the autumn and winter.

We would also need to look into getting proper security staff as Dad’s bouncing tactic when trouble begun to kick off at the bar was to go sit at the other end of the bar and start drinking single malt with a crofter from Lewis…

How do farmers always seem to find other farmers even when they aren’t wearing check shirts and brogues? Thankfully I had Young Farmers' National treasurer Katherine Marr helping on the bar and she soon sorted any problems with her decisive action and strong Ayrshire words!

Her help on the bar, along with that of Sutherland and Easter Ross farmers Nikki Mackay and Skye MacGilvary was greatly appreciated!

FACT file

Rachel farms at her family’s 350-hectare Ballicherry Farm, in the Black Isle, with her parents, Brian and Caroline Matheson. It is mainly arable, growing spring barley, wheat and oilseed rape, though they also have 150 Texel cross ewes, and overwinter 100 head of cattle.