August is just around the corner and thankfully the summer heat has made up for the wet and cold weather we saw back in May.

Due to this late cold spell, we were forced to keep the sheep on silage fields well after we would normally.

However, the weather turned wet and warm, and grass thrived. We were able to fill the silage pits with ease as it was a good thick crop, replenishing what could have been missing.

The red clover has seen a second cut taken and if this warm humid weather remains, we may be fortunate enough to sneak a third. We also hope to gather a second cut off of the rest of the grass.

This will allow us to feel confident we have adequate feed for the sheep, regardless of what weather is thrown our way over the winter.

Our heifers have been selected for breeding and are the only calves from the 2020 crop still on farm, with the remainder finished and sold. The spring calving cows and heifers have been running with Aberdeen-Angus bulls with creep feeders out to entice and encourage the calves to feed independently before weaning.

Summer calving has finished too, with the cows calving on Shandford Hill with minimal intervention. Although the earliest of them calved throughout the wet cool spell in May, we were thankful not to lose any calves.

It’s fascinating how cows can find – even on the wettest of days – a sheltered dry area to give birth and nature takes over to help with survival. Often we are simply onlookers as they take charge.

We tend to calve our two-year-old heifers inside so we can monitor them more closely. These conditions can sometimes be enough to unsettle a first time mother and cause issues bonding.

However, they were soon put out to the field in groups according to the age of their calve. These will be their bulling groups as the calves will wean at the same time.

Sheep work continues with the lambs having received their first wormer. Dung samples were taken which showed the presence of nematodirus and strongyle worms, and were more samples were taken two weeks later, the count was back to zero.

We have been selling lambs on a weekly basis since mid-June at regular 44kg weights through Forfar Market. Some 80-90% of these lambs are Suffolk crosses which are always first to go here. The first of the weaned ewes were put onto reseeded grass sown in April, with the remainder of ewes and gimmers grazing silage aftermath.

Shearing was a challenge this year, or at least the organising of it. This was solely due to the May weather conditions (previously mentioned at least once!)The shearing was delayed for 10 days as the summer weather took longer to appear.

I am sure all sheep farmers across the UK will be in agreement with me when I say that the cheque paid for the wool we provide is nothing short of an insult. Shearing must be done to ensure the welfare of the animal is upheld. It is not an opt in or opt out part of being a sheep farmer, it is a main event on the calendar each year that requires a lot of time and effort from all involved.

However the natural, sustainable and readily available commodity that is provided at the end of this essential yearly ritual is worthless and unwanted. How can this match what our government currently strives for?

Entire villages and towns were once build and run on the profits of wool. It was respected, essential and required each and every year in all aspects of society. Why not now?

I could go on and on regarding how disappointed I find this current situation and how much it infuriates me but this will not amend the current situation.

It does, however, make you wonder if it is in fact worth the time and effort to pay people to gather, roll and pack the wool. Their wages will not be covered and simply add to the growing bill of shearing.

Many people I have spoken to feel the same way and are very downtrodden by the huge decline in what is paid for our wool. It used to help pay the shepherds wage plus add to the flock, then simply covered the cost. Now we find ourselves greatly out of pocket.

A woollen jumper, however, has risen in price – again how can this possibly ensure equality for all!