Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Jo Mackenzie: Summer sunshine and farm shop changes at Rootfield

Jo with some of the cattle on the farm.
Jo with some of the cattle on the farm.

Since the end of term we’ve been so lucky with the weather and it’s been great for outside activity days and al fresco play dates – for the kids and grownups alike.

The Rootfield girls have been enjoying being outside, too.

Thanks to the hot dry weather, the new paddock grazing platform has however been a bit short of grass with Nick and Scott having to supplement with buffer feed to keep the cows milking well.

On a more positive note, herd numbers look set to be bolstered with Nick achieving good results from artificial insemination with sexed semen (female offspring guaranteed), and the calf igloos and pens are filling up with cute calves – always popular with customers visiting the honesty shop and vending machines.

While the ice cream and milk vending continue to attract our loyal regulars, we are looking to add more local produce to our chilled vending machine which currently houses eggs, honey, butter, cheeses, rapeseed oil, proper coffee and luxury hot chocolate mix alongside our natural yoghurt, my botanical soaps and little tins of ‘super balm’.

Jo’s husband Nick has had success when using sexed semen on the cows at Rootfield.

We think a fruity chutney or pickle would complement the cheeses, or perhaps an apple sauce to accompany the pork, and are now slightly regretting our recent cull of apple and plum trees from our garden.

Having been here possibly decades longer than we have, the fruit harvest quality from the trees has been deteriorating over the past few years.

We will plant more in the autumn, but until they fruit, we are hoping my green-fingered Mum won’t mind if we harvest some of her abundant crops of both apples and plums from her bountiful coastal garden.

The relocation of our self-service farm shop has taken another small step forward recently with the arrival of a pre-loved container after months of delays.

We have chosen a picturesque site just below the bottom shed and only half-way up the farm drive, which should mean less wear and tear on the rest of the drive as well as less traffic on the farm itself.

During the first lockdown the shop became so popular Nick quickly introduced a one-way drive through system which has remained in place to help maintain Covid safe measures.

However, this means that customers must drive through the middle of the farm – not ideal for them or farm staff – and during particularly busy periods queues block the top sheds where straw and feed supplies are stored.

The farm’s ice cream is popular with customers to its self-service shop.

The new location will address these issues as well as allowing us to provide better parking facilities and some outside tables for those who want to enjoy their ice cream before they leave – we often spy folk eating it in their cars or perched on a gate and sometimes cyclists hunkered down on the grassy verge at the end of the drive.

Yet despite being fitted with floor to ceiling glazed double doors affording panoramic views of Ben Wyvis and at the moment, the cows grazing, our 20-foot long container is in need of a major makeover, which we hope will get underway soon.

The plan is to clad it outside and fully line it inside before adding our branding, moving the fridges and freezers in and the all-important farm made and locally crafted produce. Potentially, however, there could be further delays because of the national shortage of building materials.

We appreciate that everyone’s in the same situation though and it’s much worse for those waiting on houses, community projects or school buildings being finished.

As ever, we are feeling lucky to live where we do and are grateful for the continued support of long term and new customers – at the farm and in the wider hospitality community.

  • Jo lives at Rootfield Farm in the Black Isle with Nick, daughters Daisy and Mollie, and 120 dairy cows. They run the Black Isle Dairy.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]