Country Smallholding - - Feature Donald Macsween -

I have been for­tu­nate enough to get a sab­bat­i­cal from my day job for the sum­mer, mean­ing that I have been able to con­cen­trate on get­ting the croft and the busi­ness to where I would like them to be. I thought this would mean a long, hot, lazy sum­mer – boy was I wrong!

I’ve been as busy as I’ve ever been, and I’m not sure how I man­aged to do any of this, while work­ing at the same time!

Af­ter the suc­cess of lamb­ing, some­thing had to give. Un­for­tu­nately, that was calv­ing. Both my High­land heifers were with an Aberdeen An­gus bull last au­tumn and only one of them ended up in- calf. It broke my heart to find that calf still­born, one beau­ti­ful sum­mer morn­ing. I don’t think croft­ing had ever left me feel­ing as low as I did that day. I had been so ex­cited about my first ever calf, and to find it dead was dev­as­tat­ing. I felt for the heifer too, but she has re­cov­ered well and will be back to the bull shortly. I also had to BVD test the cat­tle for the first time since I got them. That was the first time I had han­dled them, which was quite a ner­vous ex­pe­ri­ence!

As I write this, I am pre­par­ing to head south, to the neigh­bour­ing is­land of North Uist, where I am sell­ing some weaner pigs and re­turn­ing with a third High­land heifer. I’m look­ing for­ward to this and get­ting them back to the bull as quickly as I can.

Oth­er­wise, things have gone quite well on the croft. We got the sheep shorn in early July, with my­self and two neigh­bours help­ing each other. I al­ways en­joy these days, as a lot of the croft work tends to be on your own, so com­mu­nal work­ing is al­ways more en­ter­tain­ing.

There are al­ways some ex­tra hands around in the sum­mer months too, with stu­dents home for their hol­i­days, so my brother Innes and cousin James have been roped into help­ing out – some­times they need a lot of per­suad­ing though.

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