ALTHOUGH the weather over the past week has been quite autumnal , with some drizzle now and again , the last few days were mainly sunny and warm . It has meant that with all the crops now harvested on Manor and Chiverlins Farm, Ian and Kevin have been able to get on with preparing the arable fields to be sown.

Due to the late harvest of all our wheat, sowing of some of next years crops has been delayed . The first task for Kevin was to prepare his fields to be planted with winter oilseed rape . Using a minimal till method to prepare the ground (this method involves no ploughing) he used his large cultivator, called a Terra disc, which is made up of 7 winged tines, a set of discs and 2 rollers . He did two passes in each field , the second pass going across the direction of travel of the first pass . These two passes with the cultivator prepared a seed bed for his winter oilseed rape , which he then drilled (planted), followed by a pass with a light roller to help the seeds make better contact with the soil.

After the rape had been sown Kevin turned his attention to another crop which needs to be in the ground, a 3 to 4 year ley of chicory , clover , perennial ryegrass and plantain. This is a high protein , mineral rich, drought resistant crop, which can be sown any time from April to early September and is particularly good as a feed for lambs to be finished for market. Once it is well established it can be rotationally grazed , allowing about a month between grazings. The fields to be planted with the chicory mixture were cultivated in the same way as those planted with oilseed rape , but once the seeds were in the soil Kevin used a heavy roller.

Here on Manor Farm , Ian has been preparing fields to be sown with grass seeds . It is also getting quite late in the year for grass , as the crop needs to be well established before winter . Ian has also used a minimal till method of cultivation , preparing the seed bed using our large cultivator in two opposing passes across the fields , followed by one pass with our power harrow. One of the 3 fields being prepared is ready for sowing , while the other 2 still need a pass with the power harrow and Ian is not sure whether some extra cultivation will be needed before the grass can be planted.

The crop of grass to be grown is a 1 year ley consisting of a mixture of Ialian ryegrasses. It is a highly productive crop for silage , hay or grazing enabling the production of the maximum amount of forage from one’s own land. It also has a long growing season , so can be used for early turnout of grazing animals with up to 4 cuts of quality silage . It also has a long growing season , also producing a flush of grass in the autumn.

It has been a very busy week which involved some work with the sheep . Kevin and Francis gathered the wethers (castrated ram lambs ) for grading, finding 102 finished lambs in the flock . These will be leaving the farm once Kevin’s agent has booked a lorry. There has been some fencing to pick up and some of the groups of sheep moved to fresh pasture.

Unfortunately early in the week one of our Devon Red beef cattle became unwell and despite calling our vet out to see the animal it could not be saved as it’s condition deteriorated rapidly despite being medicated. Ian and Kevin noticed some of the Devons were coughing , so as a precaution have treated them all for lung worm . Hopefully they will all now be fine.