The land surrounding Auchencairn House lends itself best to Livestock farming, South West Scotland being known for its ability to produce a daunting supply of rock, which makes arable enterprise tricky. As such, Piet and Sue run a herd of 140 beef suckler cows, and a flock of 300 black-faced ewes and 100 black face X mule ewes.
In an age where we are increasingly shut away in front of screens, the farming calendar very much emphasises the seasons, with spring heralding the arrival of lambs and calves, and summer being a time to make hay and silage to get through the long winter months.
Spring is also time at Auchencairn to take the young Black face hoggs over to Hestan Island where they will stay until shearing time at the end of May. Taking the sheep to the island is quite a ritual, depending on tide time and height, and also taking into account ever changing character of the bay. Generally the sheep are herded out with the shepherds mounted on horseback or on foot and a handy sheep dog to keep the flock in check.
The autumn sees the sale of the years lamb crop, as well as the calves from the previous year, and is a time for taking stock before the winter months set in. Calves are wintered in the sheds in the steading, while the cows stay out living on silage and a forage crop such as kale which they strip graze simultaneously churning up the ground and fertilising it for a whole crop of barley undersown with grass in the spring.
The farming systems at Auchencairn ensure that the land is utilised appropriately to its character, and also sympathetically to the local wildlife and native flora and fauna which flourish.