There is still a bit to pull together like packing food for the sheep, picking up the hired caravan and stocking it with show essentials (towels, cornflakes and a range of liquid refreshments should just about cover it), load the trailer with buckets, pen sheets and signs and – sort out the sheep.

Showing Lleyn sheep suits us fine, as they can be shown very naturally and do not take much time for preparation. As always, a few more days training how to stand in the ring would have been to the benefit. It is a great shop window for the flock though – even outside the showring.

The Highland Show is a big target for the farming community in terms of work. Forage crops in, bulls out, hoggs clipped and lambs treated for flies before the show. Over the last 10 years we have moved silage from after the show, to before.

A really dry spell with 28 days without any measurable rain and some of that in shorts and sun hat weather has made some of these jobs easier than normal and added further challenges.

Grazing grass really slowed up and the spring flush of late May is now very much under control in most grazing fields. Silage was looking behind and slow three weeks ago, but came on a lot.

We have silage completed and the pit sheeted. Things didn’t go just to plan, with a delay in starting caused by a breakage in an important ‘part’ of a vital machine – that was expected to take a week to come from somewhere in Europe. With patience slipping, a neighbour’s forage wagon stepped in and we got everything done, one day the right side of the rain.

The delay in starting helped bulk up the bouts, and I hope we’ve not lost too much quality. When we were waiting, we took one field as hay which turned out to be very easily made.

Shearing has been a bit later than usual too – but we have made the target of tups, early ewes and hoggs done before the Highland. Hoggs were excellent clipping, but ewes similar to what shearers are finding elsewhere – still a bit mixed with some ewes not a great deal of rise despite the heat over the last week or so.

Stewart is a nearby farmer who enjoys the workshop and has great ambition. He has been looking at youtube videos and a seeder down towards Perth over the winter and his modified prototype got its first outing a couple of weeks ago. Turnips were sown directly into burnt off grass with a six-inch-deep subsoil leg creating an easy route to moisture for seed with a little protection from the elements.

There was great relief when the wee plants started to show in the slots a couple of days ago and this 18ml of rain we have now received will have spurred some more along. We are now on high alert for flea beetles.

The last cow hung on to calve a fortnight before bulls went out. Most cows calved quite quickly though, and it was grand to be working groups of strong, healthy calves sorting them into lots for bulls. We have been stricter on cows remaining in the herd, with a good lot of about 10% of the herd in the ‘no bull’ group.

If cull cows getting on in years but still looking well this autumn are similar value to yearling in-calf heifers, I think it’s better to swap them if the old cow isn’t really contributing to the breeding programme. At the moment, I reckon we’re putting money in our pockets doing this anyway – and reduce the age of our herd – which sounds like a win-win to me.

When we semen tested stock bulls early in the spring, there was one hiccup result which put the bull on hold for a re-test before using him. Unfortunately, he got the thumbs down again and a seven-year-old, he has been cashed in the fat ring to realise a pretty low depreciation rate and a legacy of a lot of cracking calves. He has also been very little hassle, and a pleasure to have around – important aspects of a bull, and things we maybe don’t value enough when we’re looking to pick bulls. Two home-bred youngsters replace him for the time being.

The one job that is badly behind schedule is lamb treatments. We have delayed starting because the Heptivac vaccine which we use on all lambs was not available, although it’s in the fridge now. We could have used Ovivac, but with a high proportion of breeding stock, together with the better cover – we opted to stick with Heptivac in our health plan.

That is now the fourth enforced change to the Health Plan in 6 months due to vaccine being unavailable. We didn’t encounter any of these shortages a few years ago, but we may just have to improve our planning and ordering systems.

We hosted an Open Farm Sunday event in the middle of all this – but we got enormous support from neighbours to pull it together, and it wouldn’t have happened without their help. We had more than 100 visitors – mainly families with primary school age children.

Favourite activities were climbing on the vintage tractor and the big lorry; sheep shearing – with wool going straight off the clipping boards to a spinning wheel; a guided farm walk with bird-song and tree identification; holding newly hatched chicks; and mixing feedstuffs in a bucket and seeing if the sheep liked to eat it!

Daughter, Tally, sold cakes and coffee to complete her fundraising campaign for a charity in Africa – enabling her to head off to climb Kilimanjaro this summer.

I have spent a bit of time with some of the younger members of the farming community lately – our own kids and their friends, the shearing and silage teams, and we hosted a stockjudging for Forfar Young Farmers last night.

All are excited about going to the show. Anticipated highlights are: meeting people, Young Farmers dance, old friends, beer tent, new friends, tug o’war, evening in the cattle lines, Pimms, the bands at the Hoolie, stockjudging and the Golden Shears.

Some of the guys with maybe 10 or 20 shows under their belt are less enthusiastic – with advanced ticket booking and car park charges seen as a barrier. Those not going have, by all accounts, all had a very good time at local shows lately! If the reduction in popularity of the Highland Show still results in sell-out crowds, and those in the farming community that it loses, end up being more supportive of local shows – then it is all maybe for the better.

We are all going at some point. I’m looking forward to meeting old friends, seeing quality stock, and the Heavy Horse Turnouts in the main ring. Oh, to be a Young Farmer again and looking for that sort of mischief!