Cliftonhill is a small family farm in the fertile Tweed valley, we are blessed with a good climate and annual rainfall of about 24 inches or 60 cm per year, and despite what we may say it, it mostly falls at the right time.We farm organically growing oats which are milled in Kelso and are used by Nairns to make oatcakes and grass for hay and grazing sheep. Our lambs are sold to Sainsbury and also for breeding.
The farm is home to deer, foxes, otters, and of course some rabbits we also have a healthy bird population from buzzards, heron, woodpeckers to kingfishers and wrens with many other species in-between. We have planted a wild flower meadow and the riverside has a beautiful show each summer of flowers in the old grass bankings. We have small area of woods which we manage for landscape, wildlife and producing wood for fuel.
The farming year starts in February with lambing, the ewes are brought inside for shelter during the winter and to lamb, they are put out with their new lambs to grass as soon as the weather and grazing growth will allow. March will find us sowing oats into soil that is, hopefully, warming up to allow the seeds to get off to a good start so they are able to compete with weeds and build the basis of a good harvest. April and May are important growing months for both livestock and crops, grass grows quickly allowing us to shut some fields off for hay and silage and lambs put on weight on the fresh grass. June and July bring silage and hay making to ensure we have enough feed for livestock through the next winter. Ewes are clipped turning from fluffy dull almost gray to slim brilliant white in a couple of minutes by passing over the clippers boards. We are also starting to sell lambs when they become fat when the meat is at its very best, grown naturally from organic grass. August and September are when the crops ripen and combines roll round the countryside. We use contractors to cut our oats and they are moved quickly to be dried and put into store. We are also selecting sheep for breeding, making sure that we retain a vigorous healthy flock capable of rearing vigorous healthy lambs. October and November the fields are all clear, the ewes are building reserves carrying lambs through the winter and the rams are hard at work. December and January are quieter with routine stock feeding and maintenance work getting prepared for the start of a new year.