Ploughing On

03 November 2019

October has been an especially varied month on the estate with not only a lot going on, but with some additional events added to the normal farming calendar.
The final fields of wheat have been sown on land which benefited from international champion ploughmen and women lending a helping hand. The Scottish National and European Vintage ploughing match was held on the last weekend of the month. Playing host to 200 competitors from across the UK and EU, the deluge of rain cleared to leave fields in near perfect condition for the competition at Bowhouse. The deep fertile soils along the “Golden Fringe” of Fife lived up to expectation and the winners were World Champions David Carnegie and Andrew Mitchell Snr. I am sure the crops which follow will be better than average.
To document the match, we were joined by BBC Countryfile and the presenters took the opportunity to learn from the experts. The film crew followed food producers at Bowhouse, creative production at Comielaw, the Kinneuchar Inn team and the farm for a couple of days. Managing to carry on with whatever job was being undertaken with a film crew in tow is an art in itself.
As soon as the lorries and tractors left Bowhouse, another film crew arrived with a mobile village and a lorry just for wigs. The crew have been busy filming in various locations around Fife, using Bowhouse as a base.
With the shorter and colder days, grass growth has slowed to almost standstill and we have been bringing cattle into the winter housing sheds. At this time of year, calves which have been running with their mothers are being weaned to give cows a rest. We bring in cows and calves for a few weeks to acclimatise them to the buildings and eating grass silage. When we then wean the calves, they already have the hang of eating together at the feed trough, and with fresh feed in front of them daily, they are more interested in eating, than anything else. Some of the cows will stay inside for the winter and others (mainly the Luing native breeds) will be turned back out to the field for the winter on grass which was stored up over the summer.
Moving cows between sheds and fields take a little patience from our neighbours – we are always grateful for the support of people to block gaps and stand in gateways as we walk the cattle back down the roads. An ancient practice, which is rarely done now due to more traffic. However, it is much better for the cows than a journey in a trailer and the tarmac roads help to trim hooves at the same time.
We have taken delivery of another two lorry loads of Lincoln Red breeding cows, heifers and bulls, all of which are now out grazing happily. The docile nature of these animals means they are delight to work with. Providing them with daily back scratching and a quick chat is a great way to start the day for farmer and cattle alike.

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