The silage crop is absolutely vital at Octomore Farm. This is the winter feed fundamental that will take the herd of beef cattle through the long winter months, supplemented by draff which is a bi-product of whisky making at Bruichladdich distillery .
Farmer James Brown has an agreement with Scottish Natural Heritage to delay cutting the grass until August 1st to give rare birds, including Corncrakes, time to breed. The weather on the 1st was impossible, so the cut had to be delayed until yesterday. Contractors Iain MacPherson and Sons from the crofting township of Conisby above Bruichladdich, have been working almost since first light with their mowing machine. Then harvesters collect and chop the grass into shorter lengths before blowing it into the waiting tractors which form relays to transport it back to the big pit at Octomore.
Farming and whisky production are inextricably entwined at Bruichladdich. These fields of grass, fertilised by the slurry from the cattle, will be growing malting barley for us in years to come as the crops are rotated. The straw from the barley is also fed to the cattle, and used as bedding. The spent barley, or draff is used as feed. We call it the Virtuous Cycle. It is complicated, but it is central to everything we do.