Farmer Focus: Autumn is the time for mending and building

Other than a deluge of rain the night before Orkney’s County Show, which made ground conditions sticky, our show season went well.

There are six shows across Orkney over nine days in early August. The Dounby Show is our local event and all three bairns (children) were showing sheep this year.

If you don’t lamb early or use a creep feeder, you don’t need to expect too much in the way of prizes, but they enjoyed their day.

See also: How beef herd is delivering £350/cow net profit with deferred, mob grazing

Once the shows are done and the nights start drawing in, there is a feeling that summer is over.

Since we started farming in our own right, I have always had building projects to either work at or finish off.

This summer is the first time I haven’t, and it’s been great fun to get caught up with lots of different jobs.

Hanging gates, painting doors, mending broken stuff and making improvements that reduce the need for baler twine are all very satisfying.

I even got one set of doors running properly, which has been waiting to be done for 16 years.

We have gone into an agri-environment scheme this year, so there has been some fencing to get done.

Any new fencing I am doing is suitable for sheep. None of the previous owners of the land we farm had sheep, so most of it wasn’t suitably fenced.

Once I’ve caught up with other jobs, it’s back to fencing. I have 21 fields sheep-proof now, with 13 left to do.

Harvest was just getting under way across Orkney when the weather broke in the last days of August. A bad spell of weather with a significant amount of rain kept everyone out of the fields for a week.

As I write this, the sun is shining and there are combines and balers everywhere. The good growing season had given us good crops of barley with long straw, but a lot of it is in a mess now with all the rain.

I got the chance of a combine, but turned them down as the flat barley was still soaking. I hope I don’t regret that decision.

Steven Sandison farms Simmental and Salers cattle on Orkney, read his bio