Brian’s blog from Ballicherry

Having endured near hurricane force winds, fallen trees, power cuts and blizzards, our opening Monitor Farm meeting still managed to attract over 60 people. These hardy folk must be thanked and admired for braving the elements.

Braving the snow for Ballicherry’s opening meeting

Braving the snow for Ballicherry’s opening meeting

Since our last meeting we have been in our usual winter mode of feeding cattle, checking sheep and having a ‘go slow’ over Christmas when Billy our arable operator takes two weeks holidays. The seed dressing season started in January with 400 tonnes being dressed at home so far. We have only just started this week to dress barley on other farms as it’s quite difficult to get arable farmers motivated to dress seed before February so the work load is now rising steadily. We have already taken on Mike, our regular seasonal worker to help spread the load over the spring.

Wheat crops are looking good and oilseed rape is looking promising, although one field is suffering from the effects of hungry deer and consequently the barer patches are good targets for pigeon attack. The winter has been mild, with very little snow or frost and although we’ve had some wet days we can count ourselves very lucky.

We have sold much of our grain forward for next harvest on a variety of deals and we’re presently tying up our seed contracts for spring barley. This is a couple of months later than usual due to some uncertainty over which varieties will be wanted in the future.

On a personal note our family has been rocked by the sudden death of Caroline’s brother in late October, sadly followed by the death of her mother 12 weeks later. This has left us in sombre mood. This year more than any we are looking forward to seeing the first green shoots of spring and longer, brighter days.

We now have a management group in place to guide the project over the next three years and I’m sure they’ll advise us well!

Our next meeting is on 13 Feb meeting at Resolis Hall. AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds is holding a Malting Barley Brunch prior to the Monitor Farm Meeting, also at Resolis Hall. Hope to see you all there.

 

 Local farmers gather for the opening Monitor Farm meeting at Ballicherry
Local farmers gather for the opening Monitor Farm meeting at Ballicherry

BrianandCarolineMatheson

BrianandCarolineMatheson

Black Isle growers Brian and Caroline Matheson from Ballicherry Farm in Balblair run a mixed enterprise of 332 hectares, consisting of 190 hectares of spring barley grown for certified seed and malting, 42 hectares of winter wheat grown for certified seed, 25 hectares of oilseed rape and 35 hectares of potato and carrot lets, together with 40 hectares of permanent grassland carrying 100 ewes, 100 over-wintered cattle and 25 suckler cows. The farm also carries out carrot growing and mobile grain dressing contracting operations. Caroline operates a Care Farming enterprise which runs alongside the commercial farming operation.

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