Our Farmer, Grant Mackenzie, provides us with an overview of a year on the farm at Rothiemurchus:
I do not know one farmer that will tell you that ‘this was a long year’! There is never enough hours in the day for me and this year has been no exception!
Rothiemurchus is a beautifully dynamic place. The farm runs alongside all the other enterprises within the estate, so when I say there is never a dull moment, I really mean it! There’s always a job to be done.
2020 has been what you could describe as a particularly challenging one with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic on our shores. Overnight suppliers had to shut down, parts for machinery became more difficult to source and simple things like meetings with contractor’s and other staff within the estate had to be done by video calling and such like. A farmer learning how to use ‘zoom’ I imagine resembles something like trying to use a kettle made out of chocolate to make your tea in the morning…. it just doesn’t work!. However, my favourite and most often used quote in life is to ‘improvise, adapt, and overcome’ I’m pleased to say I have now mastered the technology a little better (I doubt I’ll ever be a whizzkid) and the other problems thankfully sorted themselves out as our country got used to what is now the new normal!
With all that in above in mind short of the challenges it’s been as busy as ever on the farm. I’d like to take this opportunity once again to mention and thank my sidekick and general estate guru Kevin Ross for all his hard work for me throughout the year without whom I would be stuck on many occasions! I’d also like to thank the rest of the team, who all played a part in supporting the farm, The office staff, the maintenance team, The Rothiemurchus ranger service, the shop and what is now The Barn team and the butchery and also our gamekeeper and biodiversity manager. I’ll have no doubt missed a few people so to those I also express my thanks.
The spring calving went really well and little intervention was required from me. My girls did me proud once again and gave us some tremendous calves for the summer.
It has been a tremendous growing year on the farm. Our weather has been kind allowing crops to grow to some of the best they have ever been for a long time. I’ve had fantastic yields on my winter fodder and my malting barley.
Before I know it I have come to my autumn calving period. Everything went well apart from one night I recall…
I had been out on one of my many calving checks, this one, in particular, was the 3am check. Shortly into my run around the calving field I noticed one of the highlands in difficulty. This is extremely rare for a highland to have any complications. Being a native breed they tend to calve themselves with ease. So needless to say I knew this must be serious. I took her into the shed and assessed the situation to discover that her calf was in fact coming backwards. I helped her along until the calve was out and I’m pleased to announce that the little bull calf is now fighting fit and out in the field with the rest of his friends. That’s the thing about farming, you never know what to expect!
The autumn calving is now over and we find ourselves back in the winter routine of keeping the cows fed with fodder made in the summer and taking care of general maintenance and fencing jobs! Spring really isn’t far around the corner In the farming calendar so it won’t be long until we are deep into spring calving once again.
Until next year!
Ps keep an eye out on our social media and follow us on Instagram @rothiemurchus_farm to keep up to date with what we are up to throughout the year.