For us here on Manor Farm the forecast rain only arrived in very small amounts. There were several short spells when only a few millimetres fell, but most of this rain either ran down the large cracks that have appeared in the fields or was dried up quickly by the sun and strong winds. The total rainfall adding up to a mere 7 mm . However the dust has been laid!

Our returning swallows managed to construct nests out of something, but when they arrived there was no building material available except dust. One nest of fledglings are almost ready to leave their nest, but I think the other pair are incubating their eggs as they had to start their nest from scratch. Fortunately they constructed a very flat looking nest on a horizontal platform, so it shouldn't fall. The downside of all this is that I have had to move my car out of the garage!

On my walks I have noticed a different selection of butterflies are on the wing which include gatekeepers and marbled whites among the red admirals, tortoiseshells, speckled woods and peacocks. Flies of various kinds are numerous, also bumble bees, hover flies, ladybirds and their larvae, not forgetting the small predatory flower bugs which feed on insects especially greenfly and mites. These bugs have reflective forewings, black pronota and orange/brown legs. They can also deliver a painful bite to humans.

There has been lots going on over the past week. We have made just a little bit of second cut grass silage using the grass from our short term leys. Although there was very little grass it needed cutting as it had gone to seed. Apparently the 36 acres yielded eight 12 tonne trailer loads, half as much as we would expect if the weather had been favourable.

However it is now safely stored in the clamp and hopefully rain will arrive to help produce enough new growth for a third cut. Ian has continued to repair or renew fences around the farm, also re-hanging old gates or replacing those not repairable with new. In between he has been checking our Angus cattle every day and spraying the last fungicide on our spring barley and winter wheat. Cereal crops are susceptible to a large number of fungal infections with different fungi able to cause considerable damage to all parts of the plant, from roots to grain.

It is therefore required by the Red Tractor Assurance Scheme that farmers have a crop management plan advised by an agronomist to ensure that any chemical applications are necessary and timely.

At the end of the week Cereals 2020, an event held annually for arable farmers, was this year provided via virtual webinars. Normally Kevin and Ian would attend this event to keep in touch with any new developments in the arable sector. Trial plots of all sorts of crops, the latest machinery and many advisors are normally on hand to answer questions, but this year all parts of the Cereals Event was delivered remotely. Ian and Kevin need an accumulation of National Register of Sprayer Operators points to be able to apply chemicals to our crops . This year by registering and logging in to the section on precision farming Ian and Kevin should be able to acquire some of these points. They had to watch a video about all the latest developments and should each be receiving an email with a number of questions to answer .

Another job was to wean the lambs from the remainder of the main flock . A few of the lambs were ready for sale so were brought back to the farm to be sold with a previously graded group that left the farm mid-week .