IT'S been a breezy, often windy week of dry weather. The temperature has not always felt that warm, especially out of the sun and in unsheltered locations, but we could really do with some rain. We did have a few spots during the week, but they dried up before hitting the ground. Our crops are rapidly maturing, but if we don't get some rain soon the grain will not develop its full potential, not producing quality or yield. There is still time for things to change but time marches on with no change on the horizon. Ian and Kevin have been working together for much of the week, often with all family members giving a helping hand as well.

All the lambs (ram lambs and ewe lambs) born to the ewes in the elite flock have recently been weighed and their eight-week weights recorded. These lambs are the future breeding stock, so it essential that they are assessed for conformation and weight gain as they are growing. When selling lambs sheep farmers need to ensure that their breeding stock is going to produce lambs with good conformation and weight gain. Replacement ewe lambs selected from the main flock ewes have also had their eight-week weights recorded. Vaccination and worming of this years lambs is still being done as they reach the right age for their booster injections. At the same time the ewes are being treated with a fly repellent to help prevent fly-strike and if necessary having their hooves trimmed . When daily checking all the sheep the shepherd must look carefully for any signs of fly-strike and treat promptly, before the maggots of the blow flies can burrow too far into the flesh.

Melissa has told me that the shearers have now been allowed to travel and have now arrived from Australia, so hopefully it won't be too long before the fleeces can be removed, which will make the sheep feel much more comfortable. Lambs from the early lambing flock are still being regularly graded for sale, with another group leaving the farm mid-week.

Spraying crops with fungicides or herbicides is another job that has been continued during the past week. Both Ian and Kevin are able to spray as they have had the necessary training and continue to regularly attend CPD courses giving them points to enable them to remain on the National Register of Sprayer Operators (NRoSO ) list. There is also regulation which says that all sprayers must be tested once every three years, so it is essential that we have our sprayers serviced regularly. In modern farming precision variable rate spraying allows growers to adjust the volume and rate of herbicides, fungicides and pesticides to the target. It therefore allows us to apply plant protection products in an economical and environmentally sound way.

Last week Ian and Jenny cultivated and rolled our three fallow fields to encourage any residual blackgrass seeds to germinate. It is hoped that a combination of cultivations and herbicide use will help to rid us of the blackgrass problem, before the fields are planted with crops this autumn. Ian has recently spread some slurry onto some of our grass fields which were cut for silage. A job that took several days was the moving of two large heaps of sheep manure from near the farm buildings. The manure was loaded into trailers and taken to be stored in two heaps in our fallow fields, before being spread later in the year.