A RATHER benign week of weather has just passed. Some sunshine, light clouds at times and a little damping mid-week. I have noticed the autumn colours are just appearing, so hopefully not too much rain to spoil the final effect.

Just started to do some festive cooking, with fruit soaking in brandy ready for the first of the many cakes I shall be making. Mincemeat is already maturing in pots (also with added brandy). During this rather strange time we must keep our spirits up (excuse the pun).

Kevin has at last managed to drill all his winter wheat, following the arrival of a few bags of seed to enable him to complete planting. He has also planted 25 acres of winter oats, which have been absent on his farm for a few years. The variety of wheat planted was Costello This is a group 4 hard wheat, mainly used for animal feed. It is a high yielding variety, producing exceptional grain quality in all conditions. It also has very good disease resistance and with such good grain quality can have a range of market opportunities. The winter oats planted are a variety called Lineout. This oat is part of a new breeding programme and the earliest maturing variety with good quality on the recommended list. Take up on its first year has been good, so hopefully it will perform well on Chiverlins Farm, as Kevin is planning to use much of his home grown cereals to feed to his sheep during the winter of 2021.

On both Manor and Chiverlins Farm hedge cutting has continued, the remnants of manure cleared from the buildings and cleaning out of Kevin's grain store for the storage of machines has been completed.

Last week Keviin's sprayer had its MoT. A qualified engineer comes to the farm to make sure all the working parts are in order particularly checking for leaks. The condition and calibration of all the nozzles which dispense the prepared chemical is a vital part of the MoT and worn or faulty parts are replaced.

On Manor Farm, Ian checked the condition of our old loader which is fitted to the front of one of our tractors. This is a much used piece of our equipment during the months to follow, so it is essential that it is in good working order and not likely to break down, although this cannot be guaranteed! On close examination Ian found that some of the visible moving joints were looking rather worn and there was looseness in the movement. He decided that maybe he would get Kevin to say what he thought about the best way forward. It was decided that a call to our machinery salesman would probably be the best solution and he has been asked to give quotes for part of and a complete new loader.

On the livestock side of the farm, Kevin has moved all his ewe lambs to fresh pasture. After selecting 35 finished lambs from his wethers (castrated ram lambs), he moved these to a field on Manor Farm which needed grazing before the winter.

Recently Ian took our trailer and collected 45 weaned Aberdeen Angus x calves, which were ordered earlier in the year. These calves are all about 3 months old and looked to be settling down well in their new home. They are in a loose straw bedded area of our large barn, where they are being fed haylage and some concentrate pellets. These pellets are designed to ensure they get all the nutrients they require to grow strong and healthy. We have also brought in our older Angus cattle to check, weigh and separate the heifers (young females) from the steers (castrated males). The heifers will finish ready for sale earlier than the steers, so they have been brought into the cubicle barn as there is not much goodness in any grass at this time of year. They are being fed a mixture of haylage and maize silage. The steers were put into a field which has some hard areas, where they can also be given some additional food.