I guess we are enjoying a typical run of April weather with sun, wind and showers. Elizabeth and I have had a week’s holiday in Scotland and we can certainly see a marked change in growth everywhere since we left. Even the reluctant spring flowers are out and the rape and wheat have made the most of the warmer temperatures and showers to ingest the early dose of nitrogen and put on some good dark green growth. The week before Easter we managed to get most of the Spring Barley sown with the combination drill with only a couple of wet patches to avoid. This is now up and looking quite respectable and has had pre-emergent weed killer and one dose of fertiliser. We bought the combi drill in a bit of a panic during the wet autumn three years ago and since then it has proved its worth every year in the spring. It will be interesting to see how the results compare this year with the seeds we put in with the new Claydon drill.
I missed the trial field with this machine but Charles was reasonably happy with the result. It has to have the 300hp tractor on the front which is much heavier on the land, but the drill does sow 6 metres at a pass rather than 3. He had to harrow the tougher part of the field to cover all the seed but it all looks quite good now. Time will tell if the extra compaction from the wheels will damage the resulting crops. We are now busy catching up with fertiliser spreading and spraying while David is washing the piggeries down after the last batch of pigs. They proved much less successful than we had hoped. For the first 14 weeks they were perfect with very few losses or illnesses but, in the last 6 weeks, they were badly affected by respiratory disease which left us with several deaths and a lot affected by pleurisy and septicaemia. Very disappointing but many of BQP’s famers experienced the same problems which is a bit f a consolation. Our next batch arrives during the last week of April – so we will hope for a good one.
Elizabeth and I have always enjoyed visiting island communities and have decided to try and visit as many of the Scottish islands s possible over the next few years. Last week we ticked off Arran, Bute and Cumbrae, which was very enjoyable. We had never visited south west Scotland before and found it as good as other areas, if a bit busier. I am always very interested in farming over the hedge while we are away and never cease to be impressed at the quality of so many Scottish farms. Most of the farmsteads seem very well maintained and smart, putting us to shame a bit. We saw a lot of very nice looking cattle and sheep. I was quite surprised to see so many well grown beef cattle being kept on bare land being fed silage and straw in large feeders. The farmers have obviously found that cattle over wintered outside will thrive and finish without the expense of housing them, a bit like outdoor pigs. I presume at this time of year the cows are in the cattle sheds calving where they can be supervised more closely.