Potato harvest looks bleak for Charlie Armstrong

Well, winter seems to be here and all the cattle are now inside eating expensive low-quality feed. But at least it has freed up more grazing for the sheep, which we still seem to have a lot of.

We have now crutched, tagged and given a preventative foot-rot injection to most of the ewes and replacements. Since starting to vaccinate for foot-rot, lameness has decreased dramatically, but we are still along way from having no lame sheep.

We have been busy buying rams. At the recent Kelso ram sale we purchased some Bluefaced Leicester tups from Middle Dukefields along with some Easycare tups. They are complete opposite breeds and progeny. All were bought on experience and not figures.

The next ram sale we visited was in Llandovery, mid Wales, where we got fitted up with some new Beulah blood. There were some great tups and the people are great; the only problem is it’s just so far down.

With the straw all baled and the sheep ready for the tups things seemed to be looking up. However, a visit to the potato field quickly reminded me what an awful year it has been. The field is too wet to travel on with machinery, so sheep are now in position grazing the weeds down.

We are somehow going to have to try and harvest acres of golf ball sized potatoes and that’s the good rows. If nothing else, we might get enough to save for seed, but as to whether we have any to sell – well we will see.

Charlie Armstrong farms 1,011ha (2,500 acres) with his wife Jane and parents Charlie and Sylvia at North Charlton, Alnwick, Northumberland. Livestock consists of 1,200 finishing cattle and 10,000 ewes.

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