An insight into modern farming life. Our old friends newlyweds Mel and Martin Irvine return to the series and introduce their newest member of the family, four-month-old Erin.
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Across some of the most beautiful and remote landscapes
of the British Isles...
There's not many views like that. It's absolutely stunning.
..Scotland's farmers work day and night,
producing our milk and our meat.
Trying out new ideas...
Buffalo doesn't want to do something,
you're going to find it very difficult.
..and striving to turn a profit in tough economic times.
We're struggling, we're definitely struggling.
Over the course of a year,
six very different families let cameras onto their farms...
Everything that could've gone wrong there went wrong.
The idea of lying on a beach - bliss.
..to share their struggles...
We have to get her out or she's going to die.
..and their triumphs.
It's not about the pay cheque, it's about the lifestyle.
It's mid-autumn in Scotland.
As the season advances,
the last of the warm weather makes way for rain and early frost,
and farmers are under pressure
to get ready for the winter months ahead.
In the rolling farmland of Fife, on the East Coast...
..it's time to move an unusual herd to their winter shed.
Scotland's first water buffalo.
I absolutely love cattle - huge part of my life growing up on the farm.
As it got to the stage where I was looking to create a business,
I was looking for a unique product which I could market.
The path was much clearer with the buffalo meat,
as opposed to normal beef, which there's already a host of, you know...
Scotland's full of great producers of quality beef.
34-year-old Stevie Mitchell spotted a gap in the market.
And because buffalo meat is unusual, and low in cholesterol,
the business has taken off.
Now he keeps a herd of over 400.
So, these are all nearly coming up for two years old.
These are all young boys, which were bred for meat.
Today, Stevie needs to move his bull calves
from the hills into their winter housing.
Normally we do this by lorry, because it is a bit of distance,
but the fields in between our farm
and the farm we're taking them to just now are in stubble.
So to save a bit of money, we're going to try and take them by foot.
So, it'll be an interesting project.
There shouldn't be too much trouble, but famous last words.
The bull calves are keen...
..but Stevie's prize stock bull, 007, is having none of it.
He's a big fair lump,
but we need to move him out of the road, so we can bring the...
..these young bulls up, but...
the only thing he's bad at is he really hates other males.
He's top dog.
We bought him as a calf probably about eight or nine years ago.
He's father now to most of our females that we keep,
because he's got such a good temperament.
He may be well-loved, but buffalo are notoriously stubborn.
007 weighs over a tonne.
Stockman Eddie lends a hand.
It makes it quite difficult for us sometimes,
because he's so headstrong and weighs so much.
Trying to get him to do anything.
Come on, big fella, let's go.
He's got such a thick skin and big horns, he doesn't feel anything.
Come on! No!
Hey! No, come on!
The other way. Come on, turn around!
Come on, don't be silly. Come on, boy.
Come on, ho! Come on!
Good boy. That's a boy.
With 007 shifted, Stevie and Eddie can finally get going.
Come on, then, guys.
When the buffalo get out, they behave quite different to cows.
Cows tend to get quite excited, but buffalo just march,
and they can get quite far.
Domestic water buffalo are more commonly seen
tilling the rice paddies of Southeast Asia.
They stick as a group, they stick as a herd.
They are, I think, crafty. They're definitely quicker.
They run faster than cows -
they're an extra five or ten miles an hour quicker,
definitely, than cows.
I mean, it's how people shifted animals back in the day.
All the drovers shifted them from market to market, you know?
So, it's quite a modern thing, these big livestock lorries.
They're getting ahead of me, so I'd better crack on!
45 minutes later, the buffalo arrive at their winter home.
Feeling quite good about things - that all went really, really well.
Just need get them up around a shed.
Home sweet home.
They'll spend the next few months being fed indoors.
Come on, guys, out of here.
It's both better for them and the fields,
which can grow new grass for the spring.
All done. That went all right.
It's just so much nicer for the animals.
You could see how happy they were.
Almost going out for a leisurely stroll this afternoon.
Most of the bulls will spend their last winter here.
But one of these young fellows could get lucky
and live on to become Stevie's new stock bull.
It's a funny noise they make, isn't it?
It goes... During a still night, it goes for miles.
It's really funny.
135 miles north, in the Highlands near Inverness,
Robin and Penny Calvert run a croft.
A traditional small-scale holding,
unique to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
A croft...possibly even more than a "proper farm" in inverted commas.
It almost becomes part of you, it's a funny thing to say.
It's the seasons, the way the colours change.
It's the weather, they all, sort of,
get under your skin over the course of time.
Make sure that calf goes in, Penny.
Peggy, just stay there.
They make money by butchering and selling meat
from the animals they raise.
So when a cow nears the end of her breeding life,
her value to the croft dwindles,
and Robin and Penny need to sell her while they still can.
This morning, we're preparing our cows to go to the market,
and we're having them ready overnight,
and then we'll take them early next morning.
Up for sale are 12-year-old Honey and 11-year-old Blondie,
and Blondie's three-week-old heifer calf.
They're still capable of having maybe two or three calves,
so somebody else can make use of them.
And selling one with a calf at foot is always a good thing, as well.
Right, we'll leave them there for now.
Highland cows will fight to establish a pecking order
when they're contained.
The problem we got at the moment is these two
have never been terribly fond of each other.
So we're going to have to put them in a trailer tomorrow morning,
so I want them absolutely used to each other
before they go in there, these two.
Oh, no, no, no, no, no!
Hang on! Whoa!
Calf's on the wrong side.
All right, we'll have to bring her back around.
They're just organising their pecking order...
and she jumped the fence.
Right, Penny, I'm just going to have to lead her down.
So, she's no longer in the fank, she's actually in the hen run.
The difficulty being that she's going to have to leave her calf
over the fence in order to get round the corner and back,
so that might be a little bit difficult.
Robin lures Blondie with some tasty treats.
That's with having them in a tight space.
If I had opened them up, we wouldn't have had that happening.
Let's open this gate here.
Come on, good girl. Good girl.
That wasn't very nicely tempered of you, was it?
They're back together for now.
They're fine now.
I'll be sorry to see that old cow go - she's been a good one.
But I really don't want her around here
when she's getting old and grey, like me.
But, tomorrow, it's market day,
which means an even tighter squeeze in the trailer.
South-west in the Inner Hebrides,
the Isle of Mull is home to new entrant farmers
Janet and Alistair Taylor.
They're tenants of a small farm on the south of the island.
Along with two horses, ducks, and a large brood of hens,
together they look after 180 sheep...
This is Toffee, and this is Chantelle.
Quite eager to get some breakfast.
..and 20 Highland cattle.
So, that's Hazel, Goldilocks and Patience in front of us.
That's a lot of mouths to feed.
Janet and Alistair depend on subsidies and grants to survive.
The only income the farm's livestock have brought in this year
is from the sale of lambs - a mere £2,000.
What are you doing out, old fool?
No shooting for you!
So to boost their income, the couple take paid work on other farms.
This autumn, Alistair's hoping to take over
a potentially lucrative job managing red deer on three estates.
It could provide the struggling farmers
with up to £9,000 extra a year.
Alistair's learning the ropes from Callum Entwistle.
Callum's always in charge.
That way, if we don't get anything, it's Callum's fault.
Safety is absolutely paramount.
This is Mull, and here,
there's a pair of binoculars behind every bush.
People are perfectly entitled to be out here.
Pest as it is for us doing our job, but it is part of life,
so we just have to accept it.
There are over 7,000 red deer on Mull,
and they have no natural predators.
Without some being culled every year, the population would explode,
leading to the ransacking of vegetation across the island,
But, today, the deer are proving elusive.
They're hiding at the moment.
I think if they've got any sense,
they're hiding in the trees out of the wind.
German pointer Driesh is learning the ropes, too.
He's a gun dog - an ideal candidate for deerstalking...
..and half an hour in, he picks up a scent.
He's saying they're that way.
The tail's stiff, and he was scenting the air.
He can smell a stag.
But it's over 200 metres away.
239 metres when we first saw him.
And then he spun.
He was head-on to us,
which is not a shot you would take at that distance.
He'll live for another day.
-Driesh could smell him.
When we came halfway across there, we stopped, because he was...
..turning towards there.
To the kettle! Tea time.
Before he can take over from Callum,
Alistair needs a stalking certificate,
which means passing a shooting exam.
Driesh was really good today - I was really pleased with him,
cos he was calm, and he didn't get frustrated
when we were waiting around,
and didn't make any noise, so really pleased.
Driesh has passed his first test.
Next, it's Alistair's turn.
120 miles east in Fife,
Stevie's also putting his animals through their paces.
He's hoping to spot a new stock bull
while weighing all the buffalo he moved earlier.
Stevie's invested in a brand-new bit of kit for the job.
A special cage for holding cattle called a crush.
Been looking forward to getting this crush for quite a long time
so that we could get some facts rather than going on instinct.
By weighing the bulls, they can work out how much feed they need
to reach their optimum weight for slaughter.
But as water buffalo are a new species in Scotland,
Stevie's always on a steep learning curve.
So, it should say 172 kilos.
I don't know what weight I am, though.
You know you're 72 kilos, eh?
I think I'm 100, but I'm not sure.
It's something we probably should have done a long time ago,
but, you know, this crush wasn't a cheap piece of equipment,
and you've got to prioritise.
-When we're right in the middle, it's right.
-What was that, 100 kilos?
It's saying I'm 112 kilos?
-It's saying you're 72.
-Right in the middle.
-It's probably got a wee bit of wiggle room, so...
Right, let's get started.
Stevie has 160 obstinate bulls to weigh...
Come on, boy. Up here.
..but these boys have never been in a crush before.
Don't be stubborn. Good boy.
So, we're writing down all their weights.
The plan is that we'll do this again in 30 days' time,
and just see how much they've grown.
No, come back.
Buffalo can be extremely stubborn,
and the good news is that of all the traits they've got, they never kick,
whereas the cattle beasts are... quite dangerous from behind.
Get on. In you go.
Just go forward.
There we go. Phew!
The buffalo's on...
..but the scales aren't...
Have we not had that at zero?
Right, we'll have him back out.
..so he has to come off again.
The buffalo, like, you just have to accept that it takes time.
The more you get stressed, the less co-operative they come.
The more you fight them, the more they go against you.
Come on, move on.
Well done, Eddie.
As the youngsters go through,
Stevie's been looking for a new stock bull.
And one of them has caught his eye.
There's lots to look at in a bull.
He's got to be good on his feet, decent head, really good top line.
Without being hard on this beast, it's just not got the same...
It's not as full, erm...
Not quite as well put together.
It's actually, for a buffalo, got a really good shape.
While the rest of these young bulls are destined for the food chain,
this lucky fellow could be plucked out to live a very different life.
He will get a name. The breeding bulls all have names.
We've got 007, because his mum was 007, and he became Mr Bond.
Get on, get on, get on, get on, get on, get on.
But only if he gets the thumbs-up from vet Simon Ward.
First time I tried to take a blood sample off a buffalo,
Steve said it's easier to get blood out of a stone,
and I didn't believe him.
Come on, big fella. Come on.
It is your luckiest day ever.
Hopefully, provided the vet thinks that you're up for the job.
Come on, keep going forward.
Come on, son.
Stevie wants Simon to size up his great new hope.
They have notably smaller scrotums.
Simon will have felt more...
..bulls' balls than I have, so he'll maybe...
I was wondering where you were going there!
He'll maybe be able to tell us how different they are, but...
So what we're looking for is symmetry of the two testicles,
are they both present, is there a hernia above it?
And particularly down at the tail of the epididymis,
is there a hardened lump on them?
And they both feel perfectly symmetrical.
If the young bull passes muster,
he'll be put straight to work, as Stevie's favourite,
007, has recently been firing blanks.
007, for the first time ever, didn't get his cows in calf.
So this is why we're picking out a new bull to...
At the moment, help 007, potentially have to replace 007.
-Seems all right. Yep.
-Good as gold.
-Ah, well, Eddie, looks like we've got a new stock bull.
-Well, thanks for that, Simon.
-So now just a puppy.
Last up is Stevie's latest acquisition.
This is our wee friend Maple.
So she's just eight weeks old.
Before starting her career as a gun dog,
Labrador Maple needs to be vaccinated and microchipped.
I'll put you in my jacket. Warmer in here, eh?
Looks like butter wouldn't melt.
Normally, she's running round like an absolute terror, aren't you?
Destroying everything in her sight.
I thought this would be nicer than having to go to the vet.
The vet's come to Maple, cos she's special.
Good dog. That's it.
We will get a wee whimper off this one.
This is her microchip.
It is a very, very big needle I have to put in the back of the neck,
so they tend to let a wee whimper out.
It's OK, Mapes, you're OK.
Brave dog! Brave dog.
I feel a little bit...
..un-farmer-ish right now. But she is lovely.
On the West Coast, it's an early start and a big day for Alistair.
He's taking the ferry from Mull to the mainland,
where he'll be sitting his deerstalking exam.
I need this certificate to be allowed to sell venison
into the food chain.
So without it, all the deer I shot
wouldn't be available for sale to the public.
So that would take away any profit from shooting deer,
so it's pretty important.
It's about as important as they come for tests that I've got to do.
I'm feeling suitably nervous about getting it done!
Cos I HAVE to do it, there's no...
There's no, "I can't do it," or, "I maybe wouldn't do it."
So, if I don't pass it, I have to come back and do it again,
which just costs a fortune.
Adding to the pressure, Alistair's absent for the farm for five days -
the longest he's ever been away.
While I'm away, Janet's mostly quiet.
Hopefully, there shouldn't be any problems with anything.
Maybe it's easier when I'm away, and I'm not there to make a mess.
Alistair and Janet met when they were teenagers,
and have been inseparable ever since.
It's really unusual for the two of us to be apart,
so this going away for five days is quite a big thing.
Cuillin, Cuillin. Cuillin, Cuillin. Come on!
We've got eight collies and Driesh.
Cuillin, Moss, Duke, Shaw, Bria, Pip, Rusty and Driesh.
People always ask me how I keep track of them,
and I've trained them to keep track of me, so they know where I am.
With so many dependents,
Janet knows Alistair will be feeling the pressure.
It's a big thing.
It's going to make us a bit busier,
but it's got lots of benefits to it, too.
I think he's probably quite nervous!
He needs this for the job,
so he needs to pass, and everyone he's spoken to keeps saying,
"Oh, yes, when I was on the course, I passed,
"but quite a few people failed."
Which doesn't help!
In the Highlands, north of Inverness,
it's market day for Robin and Penny.
Blondie and Honey have been kept together in a pen overnight
to encourage them to get on.
Sometimes they'll go in with a bucket, sometimes they won't -
we'll just have to see what happens.
Now they need to coax the pair, and Blondie's young calf,
into a small trailer.
Now, Honey, are you going to come in like a good girl,
or are we going to have to coerce you in?
No, she's very nervous.
-I think we're going to have to hurdle them in.
So I'll put the bucket there.
As an incitement, inducement.
-Now, keep coming in with me with that gate.
Robin has a plan.
He's going to take the hurdles and gradually pull them in,
and diminish the area that they're in, and push them in,
and push them until they've got only one way to go.
On you go. Ho! Ho! Ho!
Come on. On you go. Come on. Come on. On you go. Come on.
These two cows just don't want to be absolutely close together.
Ho! Come on, in you go.
-Mind that gap, Pen.
-Oh, the calf's going to get out of the other side.
Go on, get up.
The calf escapes, and Blondie's not happy.
Now we've got a problem.
Where's the calf?
No! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!
That's the problem we've got.
Where's the little one?
Fine. We'll worry about the calf later.
Undo that rope, Pen, quickly.
..but Honey's not keen to join her.
Just go into the front, open the front gate,
and rattle these nuts here.
Quick as you can.
OK, you two, just steady on.
Right. Where's the calf? Any idea?
Don't let that calf jump in with the others, whatever we do.
Sheepdog Meg's herding instincts kick in.
Meg, come to heel. Come to heel.
Good girl. Keep it going that direction.
Come to heel!
We've got her.
Steady. Steady now.
We've got her into the fank,
we're now actually going to put her through.
If we open the gates up, we're going to lose the cows out of there.
I think the only thing I can do is actually physically...
..pick up the calf in here,
and then put it through the small door in the trailer.
Come and get the head lock, quickly.
-Pull hard down.
-Pull hard down, then pull the thing towards you.
Pull the other one towards you now.
She's not yet three weeks old,
but the calf already weighs around 45 kilos.
Right, get that bottom door.
Fast as you can.
Help me lift it in.
As easy as that!
Basically, everything that could have gone wrong there went wrong.
Uncooperative cows, breaking out calves.
-We did it.
-We got there.
It's all taken longer than Robin hoped.
Quick change, quick cup of tea, and let's get down to the market
before we get there too late.
-Meg! Come and get in.
Meg! Get in. Go on, get in.
Now all he has to worry about is getting the cows and calves
safely to market, and in time.
There isn't really room for these two to completely turn around
among themselves, cos they're quite big cows.
If they do decide to have a bit of a waltz or a tango on the way down,
then we'll just have to drive accordingly.
Over 50 miles south-east, near Aberdeen...
..fifth-generation farmer Martin Irvine rents a 240-acre farm.
Previously on This Farming Life...
..Martin's passion was breeding pedigree Limousin bulls.
Until sheep-loving Mel came into his life.
Hell of a size of nuts on him.
Martin, you may kiss the bride.
Mel and Martin tied the knot on the banks of the river Spey...
..and they knew exactly what they wanted to do next.
She's very broody. Very, very broody.
-Babies, babies, and more babies.
Now it's 16 months later,
and they have a new addition to the Irvine clan...
Four-month-old Erin is already showing signs
of having farming in her blood.
Oh, she'll definitely be a sheep gal.
You like sheep!
Today, Mel and Martin are planning to worm the sale lambs -
all 500 of them.
Shoo! Shoo! Tilly! Come out of there!
Mel can't get as hands-on as she used to.
Me and Erin do some back pinning.
The safest bit for her.
Shoo! Shoo! Shoo! Shoo!
Got to watch that she doesn't get bashed or bumped,
either by me pulling a gate, or a sheep.
But you'll survive, won't you?
We start off with an easy job,
and then when she can hold a worming gun, she can do it.
Until then, Martin has to worm the lambs on his own.
If they would just stand and open their mouths,
it would be a lot easier, but the more they fight,
the harder it is on them.
Everyone kind of said to us, you know, when you have a baby,
it changes your life, and, yes, it does,
but not as much as I thought it would.
And she's been on the tractor and the digger and the quad bike.
All before she's five months old.
Yeah, she's had a good start.
It takes an hour and a quarter to dose all 500 lambs.
We did it, didn't we? That's a good afternoon's work.
But there's no rest for Martin yet.
He and dad Stephen want to see if their crop of barley
is dry enough to harvest.
A late spate of warm weather could save them money on drying costs.
What we've got here is an unfed grain, just a random pick.
And we just have to separate the seed from the chaff, pretty much.
So we just crush it up in our hands.
What we want to do is just a small handful
of clean seed to test.
Martin has a high-tech moisture meter.
All we're doing is just crushing it.
Just turn into a powder with the moisture meter.
And it feels good, I'm guessing...
19%. What's your guess, Dad?
19 and a quarter.
Stephen's moisture meter is a bit more old-school.
Well, you bite it and if it cracks in your teeth,
you ken how dry it is.
If it just squashes... Ken. It's supposed to crack in your teeth.
The harder it is, the drier it is.
-Is that right, Dad?
That's why he's got no teeth.
So that's good, that's 18%, so it's getting close.
We normally add a percent and a half, 2%,
by the time it goes through the combine.
So I'd imagine if I combined this now, it would be about 20%,
and that's just too wet for us.
If I get it low, 17%, maybe 16% if we're very lucky,
I've got no drying costs at all.
So that's us saving money. It is very much a gamble.
As far as I can see, the forecast's good, so I'll gamble,
I'll leave it another two days and hopefully it will drop down to just
where I want it to be.
Come on. Come on. Hup.
Martin's banking on the good weather but if the rain comes early,
his harvest could be ruined.
We're not going to get too excited just yet.
It's coming. The weather's good, it's close.
You can hear the barley crackling away.
50 miles west in Dingwall,
farmers from around Scotland are buying and selling rare-breed and
On you go.
Honey and Blondie seem to have put their differences to one side.
No, we're back on track again.
The calf seems quite happy, no injuries there or anything.
These two are quite settled.
Blondie's looking a bit fed up, she's been here before, a few years ago.
It's where we got her from originally. But...
There's a big cross-section of what happens
to these animals at the end of the day.
Some people keep them almost as pets, you know.
Either of these two more or less could go for that.
The only thing going against them is actually their age,
which will knock a lot of their value off, because they are quite old cows,
which is exactly why we're getting rid of them.
-Come on, girls.
-If he can sell them today,
Robin will have three less mouths to feed over the winter.
-Honey, shift down.
-But with the cows' advanced age,
they might not fetch a good price.
We just have to see what happens when we get out there,
I'm really not making any predictions on it at all.
First up is Blondie, with her calf at foot.
Very quiet cow, a three-week-old calf.
It's a nice quiet cow here...
It's a good start.
They've sold for £480.
And now it's Honey's turn.
Very quiet cow.
Nice quiet cow. £100 bid.
120, 140, 160, 180, 200.
220, 240. Anybody else?
Going then at 240.
A total of £720 before commission is a great result
and a satisfying end to a trying day.
Whoever's bought them got good value.
I'm quite happy to get rid of them at that price.
At least I've got enough back in the pocket there to get myself a
nice young heifer next spring.
In Perthshire, Alistair is at the deer certificate assessment centre.
He needs to pass an exam and a shooting test.
The stakes couldn't be higher.
Janet and Alistair need every penny they can get to keep the farm afloat.
From the written test side of it,
there's a lot of information to remember.
As for the shooting side, it's probably going to be, if anything,
nerves that get the better of me on that one.
Examiner Donald Muir will be testing his shooting skills.
We've got to put the mat out, we'll get you down,
we've got to get too comfortable and then we're going to go into the
formal shooting test. And I could see the excitement already.
Oh, yeah! Lots of excitement.
Once the range goes live, we put you into the shooting position,
three shots to get within the four-inch circle.
-You get three attempts at that.
When we then move on to the deer target,
then we've to get the six shots into that.
Again, if we drop any of them, we'll start again.
OK, you quite happy with what you've to do?
-Now it'll just have to be "do it".
To prove he can get a clean kill,
Alistair needs to place his shots perfectly in the four-inch circle
set up 100 yards away.
I've shot on a range before but never had a shooting exam before,
nothing like this.
Sun's shining, there's no rain, it's just ideal.
It's less to give an excuse for!
If it was raining and blowing a gale,
at least I'd have an excuse to say why I was missing everything.
In your own time, Alistair.
Three rounds into the left-hand zero target at 100 yards.
That's Alistair's first go over.
This is your first three attempts.
-You were quite a bit off the target there.
-Yeah, that was pretty bad, yeah.
Those three shots were low and to the left,
so I'll need to put three more better shots in.
He's got two more chances.
OK? So give yourself five minutes, Alistair.
Alistair has missed again.
If he misses a third time, he fails the test.
It's very important to this job,
he needs it so he can put the venison into the food chain,
so he really needs to pass it.
Living on the island, it's much more of a challenge.
Anything where you've got to go away and do something,
quite often it's an added cost to everything as well.
Because he's got to have accommodation and obviously pay
for the ferry and stuff.
If Alistair passes the shooting test,
he could bring much-needed extra cash to the farm.
Last year, with the farm and the contract,
we made £16,000 between us.
And with the deer job, we're hoping that Alistair's going to make
There's a lot of pressure on him to pass it.
It's time for Alistair's final go at hitting the target.
-I'll let you have a look, Alistair.
-Pretty sure I know where they are.
-Oh, well, that's that, then.
Unfortunately, that's your...
-That's my three.
-..most you could do today.
The first one, I saw it go out, and then...
that one, and I just aimed for the centre with the last,
which I should have just done the whole time but...
Yeah. These things happen.
You start overthinking it.
So, as I say, unfortunately, you have failed it today,
but I'm quite sure you'll pass it another day.
Don't get disheartened about it,
just go home, have a bit of practice
-and come back.
And then we'll see how we get on from there.
Well, that's us, then. That's it.
As autumn rolls on, daylight hours start to shrink.
Scotland's climate is famously unpredictable,
dominated by Atlantic winds sweeping wet and unstable conditions across
So when good weather comes,
busy farmers have to juggle their plans to make the best of it.
In farming, you need a lot of skill, experience, knowledge,
a good weather forecast, but, most of all, luck.
North of Aberdeen, Martin's barley has reached the perfect moisture level.
It's ready to harvest.
But he's taken a gamble on the rain holding off.
-There we go.
Martin, Mel and Erin have travelled 40 miles to a large sheep sale.
The weather's changed, there's going to be rain coming in tonight,
we need to get home and flatten that pack of barley,
so we're just a bitty rushed.
Mel can do it herself but she likes me being here
just to have a second opinion.
Yeah, but I'm not stopping you from staying at home and combining.
No, I never said. Look, she's getting grumpy now.
Look at this, teeth are coming out.
At least they know exactly what sort of sheep they're looking for -
What a mule is is a cross between a Blackface yow and a Bluefaced
You've got a Blackface yow, it is really a hill sheep,
not a lot of meat production out of the Blackface.
-And you've got Bluefaced Leicester,
which is nice and long and not the toughest,
but you cross them and you get pretty much
the ultimate female breeder.
These ones are cheaper,
because they are towards the end of their reproductive lives.
They're sold as broken mouth and correct underneath, which means that, you know,
they have lost some of their teeth but the udder is good,
so no mastitis and they should milk again.
This year, we're looking for about 250.
Last week me, and Mel were in, we managed to pick up 40.
£62 on average for 40 lives.
Right. Seen enough?
Yeah, I think so.
The sale room is quiet today.
I think with just the fine weather that everybody is busy with the harvest
in our area, just missing a lot of buyers.
It could be a good day for us.
Martin is hoping for a quick bargain.
And to get home to harvest the barley before it's too late.
-Chap the hammer.
-No, let him go.
But at £80 a head, this lot is too expensive.
Somebody credited them to 80, we had them at 70.
And the clock is ticking.
I'm thinking of sheep, and I think Martin is thinking of barley.
The next lot is 100 mules.
Right, these ones.
We bought sheep from this guy last year, they did hell of a well.
So I'm keen to go back and buy them again.
-I paid 82 last year, I don't want to spend any more.
-That's it, then.
Come on, chap the hammer.
They've bought them.
At £84 each, they've paid more than they wanted to.
But they have got their sheep in the nick of time.
Hello. Just be leaving in the next ten minutes.
I'll phone Dad in ten minutes to get the combine started.
The weather forecast has changed.
Now Martin has only five hours to bring in the barley
before it is due to start raining.
So what we will do is head back, we'll pay for them,
sort out haulage and head home, pick some barley.
In Fife, on the East Coast,
buffalo farmer Stevie needs to move his old favourite, 007,
out of the shed.
Close that. Put they cows in there.
We'll bring 007 out the other way.
It's like playing chess.
You've got to juggle everything around.
007 only got three out of 50 cows in calf last summer.
We discovered there was a problem with 007's testicles,
which meant that one of them was shrunk much smaller than the other,
a sign of some kind of infection setting in.
The vet does hope it is the sort of thing that might be able to recover,
so he is very popular with everybody here at the farm.
We are giving him as much time to recover as possible.
We can't afford to have another mistake like last year,
when we had a whole pile of cows not in calf.
So hopefully our new bull going in now,
will make sure that we have plenty of calves come next summer.
The plan is to put 007 out in the fields with two heifers for company over the winter.
Come on, boys. Come on, girls.
Neither are in calf,
so it is a chance to see if there is life in the old bull yet.
We are going to give him a wee bit of compassionate grace and keep him on
just now. We will have to maybe reassess that next year.
Come on, girls.
I really hope that he recovers and can keep on breeding for another few
With 007 safely out of the way,
it'S time to bring in the new bull Stevie picked out earlier.
-He was imported from Holland,
providing the inspiration for his name.
Heineken. Yes, that's your new name.
Good boy. Up you come. Come on, then.
Stevie is hoping Heineken can refresh the parts that 007
Come on, boy.
Turn around. Come on. Come on.
Good boy. Good lad.
The 23-month-old bull is still only half the weight he'll be
when he is fully grown.
The other cows will probably give him a bit of a hard time.
Most of these guys are actually heifers to be put in with,
they're all intimidating him a little bit.
They will settle down.
He's a virgin. A virgin buffalo.
So, yeah, no, I imagine he is just a little bit nervous maybe just now.
You're almost embarrassing me, I'm putting myself back into his mind-set.
But I certainly didn't get put in a room with 30...
There's still a lot at stake for Stevie.
He needs Heineken to do his job - and quickly.
But poor Heineken's getting pushed around.
Easy now, easy.
We need him to hit the ground running,
because all these guys are basically non-productive at the moment,
because they are not in calf.
We just need to hope that he sorts these girls out,
tells them who's boss, and they make lots of happy babies.
On the Isle of Mull, Alistair has had some good news.
I've got...my certificate here.
Got that. Nice letter, saying, well done, you passed.
I've got a wee certificate there.
And a shiny little badge, you can see that.
I resat my shooting test, because I messed up my first attempt.
Yeah, so just looking forward to getting on with the job.
Now he's got his certificate,
Alistair can take over contracts worth up to £9,000 a year
to manage deer on three estates.
This is just a few little bits and pieces that I take out with me.
When I go out stalking. So I've got gloves,
and then I take a wee first-aid kit with me,
a couple of chocolate bars. Just in case.
And that is pretty much it.
See you later.
I do worry about him. I definitely worry about him.
Especially as it's getting sort of an hour before darkness,
and I haven't heard anything.
He is quite good, he knows I worry, so the minute he's off the hill,
he contacts me to let me know everything's fine
and he has just got to process the deer before he comes back.
I've got him well-trained.
So far, we'll see.
Normally, Driech here would come out with me,
but he has a little infection on his leg, so he is on vet's rest.
Deer have been eating new saplings in a managed forest on one of the
estates. So Alistair's job is to reduce their numbers.
We are into a forestry section. It's commercial timber and looking to be
replanted. So the management plan here is to get rid of all the deer,
because they are eating all the trees that are being planted.
I think the deer are just up here on the right-hand corner,
that is where they like to live. So we are going to go up above them and
then come down onto them.
The plan is good. There's only one hazard.
There's a machine working over there with people and things inside it,
so there's no way I can shoot anything in that direction.
It's just far too dangerous.
So we have to keep that in the back of our minds the whole time we're going about.
Deer are hard to spot at the best of times.
Without Driech and his acute sense of smell, it's even harder.
It is just so hard in here, identifying
what you're looking at. There are so many little bits of wood that have
got different tones in them and the different shapes in them.
You can see deer in everything.
It is quite easy to stroll just past something and not see it until it starts running.
And then some luck.
I've got two deer, 200 yards away from us.
They can see us.
But they're off.
It was quite a long way for a standing shot anyway.
Although it would have been clean enough if she had stood still.
I'll see if we can't catch her.
Alistair follows, this time under cover.
Just up there.
The hind is down.
But nowhere to be seen.
It was a neck-shot, and it dropped instantly to the shot,
so it's just somewhere, somewhere over here in this general area.
Alistair must find her before it gets too dark.
This is where our German Shorthaired Pointer at home
is very good. He is a blood-tracking dog.
But without Driech, he has to rely on his own senses,
and time is running out.
North of Aberdeen, Martin is also racing against the elements.
The clouds are rolling in over his barley field.
So we've raced back from the mart and we have started cutting.
There is rain coming in tonight, so the combine's going,
the baler's going.
With rain on its way,
Martin and his brother Darren need to pull out all the stops.
It is coming in at 15.5%, which is exceptional for this part of Scotland at
this time of year. It's like...
It's like bullets.
So I'm not even going to have to spend any more money on drying it,
because it's dry enough. We'll get it into the shed.
Barley is a valuable crop.
Martin will use the straw to bed and feed his animals over the winter.
The grain he can sell as animal feed to other farmers.
So the straw is here,
the grain then comes out the spout into the tractor and trailer,
we'll take it back to the shed.
Darren, he is baling, which is bunching up all this into a bale,
for bedding for later.
This crop today is very important.
There's not going to be a massive profit made off the barley,
but we will have some feed for the calves for the winter,
good straw for feeding and bedding.
It's cost us £240 an acre to get it this far,
and it just makes a difference if you get the weather,
the conditions to cut it.
Get it in in good conditions.
Despite working against the clock, and the weather,
Martin's big gamble finally pays off.
It is a bumper crop of 50 tonnes of grain, brought in just in time.
I don't know if you can hear it, but it has just started raining.
So we couldn't have timed that any better.
Just as I was baling the last ten bales, it started spitting,
so it wasn't far away, but we're in the shed, we're dry.
It's cut, it's bailed.
Can't ask for any more than that.
Lucky. But, again, 15.5%.
I won't have to spend no money in drying it.
Couldn't get any better. At this time of year,
I think we're punching beyond our weight, really.
Good. Happy, happy.
In the west, on Mull, Alistair is searching for the deer he's shot.
-He has no dog and it's nearly dark.
But he's in luck.
There she is.
I mean, it's a job, it's a job like any other.
It's hard shooting them unless you've got, in your mind,
the clear reasons that you're doing it.
So, in this case, it's for a management situation with the trees
where they are planting trees and we can see, right next to her,
there are trees that are being planted and being eaten off by,
probably by her, and that is the problem with her being here.
So that's why we are removing them.
Open her up like a zipper.
Alistair is paid a flat fee to control deer in the forest.
But the venison is valuable to the estate.
Come on, my girl.
He must now process the carcass so that the meat
can go into the food chain.
At the larder...
Help clean her off.
Alistair can check on the all-important weight.
..and a half.
Well, they'll hang in the larder here till they go away,
then they'll go to another larder and hang,
and then they will be re-weighed again, and in that time,
just through dehydration and things, they'll lose a bit of weight.
So she'll be lighter by the time they weigh her to pay for her.
It's taken Alistair eight hours to deliver just 40 kilos of venison
into the food chain - and reduce the number of deer on the forestry land by one.
He will make £2,000 a year from this contract.
A much-needed boost to the farm's economy.
All in a day's work for someone who does too many things.
Hopefully, Janet's got dinner on for me and that's it.
Stevie's buffalo show their wild side.
Hey! Get back!
The joys of working with an animal that's got such a weapon.
It's the dating season at Janet and Alistair's.
Very much matchmaking.
Choosing the right yow for the right tups.
And David is searching for his sheep,
but takes a moment to reflect.
There's not many views like that.
It's absolutely stunning.
Subtitles by Ericsson
Our old friends newlyweds Mel and Martin Irvine return to the series and introduce their newest member of the family, four-month-old Erin. In Fife, buffalo farmer Stevie must select a new breeding bull from his herd. Highland crofters Robin and Penny chase a runaway calf and Alastair has to leave Janet alone on Mull while he travels to the mainland to take an important deer-stalking test.