Geese, lambs and carrots

It’s been a great spring up here in the north of Scotland!  As usual the past few weeks have been chaotic and like most farmers’ wives I’ve had to juggle cooking, paperwork and housework as well as doing the lambing. This year has produced  a very good number of lambs, but also a disproportionate number of assisted deliveries, which tested my midwifery skills to the limit! Thankfully I can now go to bed  knowing that I don’t have to get up at 3am with aching knees to sleep walk to the lambing shed to be challenged by some obstetric  complication. However, it does keep me fit, and it’s now a wonderful sight to see the lambs frolicking in the sunshine.

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Sheep with lambs at Cromarty Firth

Our spring barley was sown in perfect conditions and is looking well. The team are up to speed with all arable operations and it’s a bonus to have good weather to help the process along. Winter crops are well on and the farmer seems happy with progress.

Our main challenge this spring has been controlling the geese that roost at Udale Bay RSPB Reserve which is adjacent to the farm. Thousands of these hungry creatures descend upon us each day: they have no respect for scarecrows and are only slightly intimidated by humans. It seems that every year their population grows and it’s becoming a significant crop management issue. My better half invites me out each morning and evening to go on goose patrol – that’s about as romantic as it gets at this time of year!

The chat around the kitchen table has revolved around the new tractor and the GPS system, which has had some teething problems. Billy, our tractor man, has become an expert on satellites and signals and he seems to be in touch with NASA much of the time! Our seasonal worker Mike has moved on and we have decided to employ a permanent, full time farm worker who will start this week.

Carrot harvesting is underway and will last into June. These carrots are grown for Huntapac in Preston who use this crop for late season supplies. Some of next year’s carrots have been sown already and they will be in the ground for around one year, as the long growing season and cooler climate allows for good crops and overwintering in the soil up here.

Hopefully we’ll get a holiday soon. Can’t wait to put my feet up and sleep for a week or two!!



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.