Brown trout


It’s been a poor year fishing at Croick, as with just about anywhere in the UK. The water has come now but salmon are still scarce. However one of our guests made up for it with this lovely trout caught in a pool where salmon are normally plentiful.

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Battle-hardened stag

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Increasing numbers of sika hinds have been coming in every morning to steal a share of the bruised oats we put out for the pigs. And in the last couple of days a few sika stags have started to join them. There were three this morning, of which the one photographed above, was the largest. He quickly pushed off both the other stags and the hinds to get to the trough. The pigs held their ground but were careful to leave room for him, and his antlers.

You can see that one of his antlers has broken off. It could be a simple accident but given the time of year I’m guessing it happened in a fight. He certainly looks battle-hardened.

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History in the peat

We were out in the hill today when we came across a peat hag which had recently broken away revealing a tree root which was as fresh as if it was growing yesterday.

I had always thought that these roots dated back to before the last ice age but this was only buried about 50cm into the peat. According to the ecologist who was with me peat bogs grow at a rate of about 1mm per year suggesting this tree may have been growing as recently as 500 years ago – in the C16. It doesn’t imply there was wholesale forest cover but some trees growing in the peat. It would be fascinating to be able to accurately visualise how that land looked and was used then.

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This year’s calves are looking good and doing well. The calf above, in particular, has a great future. We can only cross our fingers that there is a market for them in October. But right now the omens are not good. The hot weather has stopped the grass growing, reducing silage yields and requiring some farmers to start winter feeding now. Arable yields may also be reduced and the supply of straw restricted. It’s never simple.

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No need to comment on what an extraordinary summer this has been. I can never remember the ground so dry, or burns so empty. Some have given up running altogether.  The little rain we have just dampens the ground. It threatened rain yesterday, though none materialised. It was nice though to see this rainbow crossing the strath.

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Calving too …

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We are well through our calving too. Over the last winter we invested in a new cattle shed and it has been a real help. Having a proper set up for handling cattle reduces the stress on everyone involved. There are still a few things we might improve, but we are getting there.

Our cattle come in all colours but it doesn’t seem to matter. Nearly ever one of our calves is coloured like our bull, Jura. This picture was taken a few weeks ago. We have 16 on the ground now and, thus far, they are all doing well.

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Nearly there …

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Another year’s lambing is nearly finished. After the hardest winter for at least a decade it was hard to know what to expect. We had rather more small lambs than usual and some very uneven twins, but it was not a disaster. And we were helped by dry weather throughout lambing so we could get lambs out to the field quickly and they get off to a good start.

Of course, getting them born is just the start. Now we have to keep them alive and growing. One ewe has already proven that she cannot swim and left us with two orphan lambs. They say that a sheep’s principal mission in life is to arrange their own death and you see evidence to support that view practically every day.

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