Saturday, 2 October 2010

Leaves are blowing, calves are sold, wool cheque arrives

Autumn winds are blowing the last leaves from the waving branches of the sycamore trees around the farmhouse, scattering them across the grass and in gathering mounds round sheltered corners. The brood of young chicks are growing up fast and following their mother around the yard. The new brown ewe lambs are happily ensconsed in the field beside Shian and Duill.

Yesterday Farmer sold 10 of this years calves at the annual Mull Cattle Sale. Instead of taking the calves over to Oban market to be sold, the market comes to Mull. Caledonian Marts bring a team of staff over to handle this 'market on the move'.

First they went to Knock Farm, the buyers and the sales team, where they sold a large number of calves, using the farm cattle facilities, after which they drove out to Gribun to the farm there to do the same. Once those two large assignments were dealt with, the team and the buyers came down to Craignure. When we arrived there were quite a few calves already in the pens.

Farmer in the pen, selling 3 Aberdeen Angus calves.

The paint used to put the buyers mark on the calves - each one with a different colour and/or place on the back.

There were only 5 buyers, and sadly for us, it seemed that our lovely black (+ one dun, seen above) Angus calves were not what they had crossed the Sound of Mull for, as we didn't get as good a price as we had hoped for them. Driving home, we struggled to console ourselves with the thought that there is more to being successful than getting a good sale price..but it didn't work. Still on reflection, we have learned something from it - we know that perhaps next year we will do a direct farm to farm sale again, where we agree a price before the calves leave the farm.

There is a joke every year about the size of the wool cheque. Our cheque arrived this week, and this year it is no exception. The fleeces are rolled and bagged, and once the bags are ready, sewn up and labelled, Ewen Stewart come in with their lorry to collect the bags. They take them to the WMB in the south of Scotland somewhere. The amount we are paid for our wool by the Wool Marketing Board barely covers the cost of the shearers, the gatherers and the lunch. Shearing becomes more of a humane treatment for the animals comfort, rather than for the collection of a valued resource. Perhaps someone should start up a wool insulation processing place on the island.
To cheer ourselves up, the homebred heifers look in really good condition, and are so much more mature now. When they were younger, they were inclined to rush about in a gang, but now they are more sedately cow-like. This one will have her first calf in the spring.

The turbine is nearly a year old. It was commissioned on the 13th of October 2009. Today the total generation meter reads 11,371 so it has exceeded its target and we are edging up to the hopeful 12,000 mark. 11 days to go! We have had quotes in for a 3.2kW turbine, and are now waiting for planning permission so that we can install that early next year.

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