Measures of Success

06 October 2023

Last months prediction of the Harvest moon looked a little unreliable towards the end of September, but on the last day, the wind blew, moon full and harvest was completed. 2023 will not be remembered as a vintage for crop yields, but we hope that quality will be confirmed shortly when samples sent off for analysis return. Wheat is tested for protein and “Hagberg falling number” (or gooiness when milled and mixed with water) defining milling quality or chicken feed.  – Oats will be checked for colour and impurities (other grains) for making porridge. Barley will be tested for nitrogen levels – critical to making beer and whisky, and beans will be checked for protein and seed colour/damage from insects. Once again confirming that yield is only one measure of success.

The last of the straw has now been baled for winter, but with a much reduced quantity. The growing season favoured clover, and in particular, red and crimson clover – both of which were planted to assist the growing crop. The clover understory, became taller than the crop and so when harvesting, we have left most of the straw as long stubble. Luckily the boost in clover has also benefitted grass growth and so cattle will be outside for much longer reducing straw requirement.

September is the month for replenishing breeding livestock replacements. Every year we need to re place the oldest animals and where the sheep are concerned, some come from our own flock, others are purchased for the same farms each year so that we know how they will acclimatise to Balcaskie’s system. Adding more breeding tups (male sheep) this year involved a team effort with Ewan, Cameron, Reece and Iestyn heading to the Kelso Tup Sales. They assured everyone that this was necessary although I think it’s not only Europe’s largest tup sale, but also one Scotland’s most sociable events.

 Cameron and Reece then headed to Lincolnshire and Yorkshire to look for more Lincoln Red cattle. Returning to the same farms as previous years and a few new ones to introduce more genetic diversity. At the same time, we were visited at Balcaskie by one of the breeders we have purchased from right from the start, who came up to check on his cattle. It was amazing to see the animals recognise and come up to Geoff and Jenny Bolton – They enjoyed a good catch up and by the sound of it a nod of approval.

The recent eDNA sampling undertaken along the course of the Dreel Burn has now been analysed and results returned. After a good deal of head scratching, Latin translation and the odd guess – we are delighted to see evidence of species such as the European Brown Eel and Otter. The latter was captured on camera adding proof that not only are otter present, but so too is a sufficient food source to maintain them.

We were delighted to be invited at the end of last month to a Pasture for Life organised dinner at l’escargot bleu where owner and chef, Frederic Berkmiller who operates Scotland’s first PFL accredited restaurant – treated guests to an amazing feast including beef, lamb, mutton, charcuterie, cream and cheeses – all from PFL certified farms. Our extensive research proves that PFL produced meat and dairy is superior in every way…. We also learned that our research is not the only confirmation – it is now scientifically proven that Pasture for Life produced meat and dairy

  1. Is high in Omega 3 fats and can be labelled so, in the same way as fish.
  2. Supports greater biodiversity

Share this