Moor fires have blackened the skies, writes Victor Chestnutt

With the driest April on record, looking out from our farm both Scotland and Donegal in the Ireland seemed to be within touching distance, as the clear blue skies were endless.

That was until recently however, when a spate of upland hill and moor fires filled the air with smoke.

The adage “to every force there’s an equal and opposite force” holds true, as many of these fires will have been a direct result of hills being under grazed and DARD’s new interpretation of land eligibility for SFP which excludes heather over 50cm, gorse and bracken.

By the time you read this, our Royal Show will be coming to an end. If the weather is kind farmers should be in good heart as the year’s work is further ahead due to the brilliant spring. It may have been worth enduring the hardship of the frost and snow in the winter if it means we can have springs like this.

This year at Balmoral along with several other exhibitors we will be shadowed by a cameraman as he tries to capture some of the excitement and build up to the show. We are being featured along with 16 other farmers in a snapshot programme of our year in farming, which will be screened next spring.

This year we took a different policy to feeding and selling our pedigree bulls, running them commercially in slats on a store cattle ration. We sold them in our local mart on the one day and faired fairly well. I feel this system will be better for the health of the bulls. And at least some buyers are starting to rebel against the overfeeding required to take bulls to breed sales.