Summer continues with clouds sometimes floating across the path of the sun's rays and rising temperatures, as the week progresses. I recorded a midday high of 31.2 C. As for rainfall, here on Manor Farm we did feel a few spots of rain and some drizzle, which amounted to nothing, hitting the warm ground and drying immediately .

It has been another busy week, which almost progressed seamlessly, most jobs being completed. At the end of the previous week the combine seemed to be losing power, so an engineer was called to try and identify what was causing the problem. We were told that a few things could have caused it to lose power, some more expensive to put right than others. However it was only a fuel problem, which was soon sorted. Then it was time to get the combine working again on our last field of winter barley. We were advised to dessicate the crop with a herbicide prior to harvesting as ripening was very uneven and there were lots of weeds along one of the margins. Once again the yield was not as we would expect, but the quality of the grain was reasonable.Then it was time to move onto the winter wheat. We only grew one field over this season due to the wet weather, leaving several fields fallow to try and get rid of our persistent blackgrass problem. The one field on manor farm yielded about 2.5 tonnes per acre (compared to an exceptional 2019 harvest which gave us 4 tonnes per acre). On our ground we would expect about 3.25 to 3.75 t / a., which just shows how weather dependent we are.

It was then time to move to Chiverlins Farm, where some winter barley and winter wheat was ripe and below 15 per cent moisture , so would not need drying. Kevin's barley yielded about 2 t/a and the wheat 3 t /a, again the quality was reasonable. Natasha has been baling the straw into large rounds, which will be brought in and stored for the winter.

Towards the end of the week Kevin cut some grass in Corsham Park. The park is in an environmental stewardship scheme, which has rules to say how it should be managed. One of the stipulations is that it can only be grazed by sheep, the other that a proportion of the grass must be cut, baled and removed. This cannot be done until August, not always the best month for hay making as the sun is getting lower and the days shorter. This grass is on permanent pasture and known as meadow grass. It is cut late to allow the seeds of wild flowers and soft stemmed grasses to have matured and fallen to the ground . One of these flowers is yellow rattle, which is similar to yellow archangel, a member of the mint family. Yellow rattle is partially parasitic, getting some nutrients from the adjoining root systems of grasses. Like yellow archangel it's flowers are yellow, but have tiny violet teeth on the upper lip. The name comes from the fact that the seeds are encased in a large capsule which rattle when moved. Once cut Natasha used a machine to spread the grass to help it to dry.

Work is ongoing to get the 500 early lambing ewes ready to introduce the rams and Francis is continuing to put any lame sheep through a foot bath twice a week. If any sheep are found to be lame they are being brought back to a field next to the farm buildings making treatment more manageable. Once the sheep are shown to be consistently improving they are returned to the field they came from.

Another piece of machinery with a problem was Kevin's sprayer. A pump was not working, which Kevin was able to remove and give to his father to take to an engineer to be repaired. It is now back in the sprayer and working correctly.

I recently helped organise and teach at the Beaufort Pony Club Mini Camp. This event could not take place as in normal year, but all organisers, helpers, parents and children made it a welcome event, despite having to adhere to all the Covid -19 regulations. In the Pony Club the children earn badges relating to equine and countryside knowledge. The chosen countryside badge was birds, with the young children having to recognise a number of garden birds . We ran a competition to draw /paint / make a collage of your favourite. A coloured spotted woodpecker won the younger age group and a coloured blue tit the older age group .The entries were great. Well done !