Although we have had plenty of sunshine between the clouds over the past week , there has also been a cool breeze. Mid-week we did have a heavy shower, but this only amounted to 2 mm and there was soon little evidence of the downpour. Autumn seems to have arrived with a forecast of overnight frost in the north of the country.

I am pleased to say that harvest is now complete. The last of the winter wheat on Manor and Chiverlins Farm is either safely in store or has been sold. Grain prices have been quite volatile over the last few months and I am afraid to say that when we decided to sell, the price per tonne had fallen considerably. Kevin has also managed to harvest his crop of feed peas, some of which will be used to feed the sheep. The variety grown was called prophet, a consistently high yielding pea, which can produce samples good enough for human consumption.

By the end of the week all the straw had been baled into large square or large round bales and some of the straw was sold in the standing crop, so was baled by the purchasers. The straw needed for ours and Kevin's use during the winter has been transported from the fields and built into large straw stacks near to the farm buildings.

Following harvest Ian has been cultivating the wheat stubble fields and has also sprayed previously cultivated winter barley stubble fields with a herbicide to kill germinated weeds and some volunteers (barley seed shed at harvest or before). Kevin has been working his wheat and spring barley stubble fields, preparing to plant oilseed rape as part of next years crop rotation. Ideally oilseed rape should be planted in August in order for the crop to become established before winter sets in, but the recent wet weather delayed harvest, so Kevin is preparing a seed bed as quickly as he can.

Another recently completed job has been the making of some meadow hay in the park. The park is in an environmental stewardship scheme and one of the requirements is to take a cut of hay in part of the park after the 15th August. This late date for cutting hay will mean that the seeds in the heads will be ripe, so will be shaken onto the ground during the hay-making process. This late cutting of grass for hay with aftermath grazing or low level grazing of pasture will encourage the growth of more wild flowers as the fertility of the soil falls. It was Kevin's father Francis, Melissa and my granddaughter Natasha who were tasked with the job of hay-making. It was not an easy job as the park has an abundance of large trees. However the large round bales of hay have been collected and stored for use in the winte .

Ian has also started to trim some of the hedges on Manor Farm. Farmers are not allowed to trim hedges in the closed period, from the 1st March to the 1st September, and is set in order to protect nesting birds.

During the week Kevin decided to worm the flock of wethers (castrated ram lambs ) on grass as some were showing signs of infection with Heamonchus contortus. This is one of the most pathogenic nematodes of ruminants. This worm also known as the "barber's pole worm" is found worldwide and can be a significant threat in warmer temperate zones, being particularly aggressive at this time of year. Ruminants have 4 stomachs and it is in the abomasum (the last stomach) that the larvae of this worm mature, then lay eggs which are passed back onto the grass via the faeces, enabling the life cycle of the worm to start again.