FOR the last three weeks the line being drawn on our barograph has barely wavered from a straight line, stuck mid-way between high and low pressure. The almost constant roar of the M4 has been silent for most of that time, indicating airflow from a northerly direction. Most of the time clouds have blocked out the strong summer sun, but when shining it has felt quite warm and, despite a few spots of rain, it has been dry.

Like all the trees and wild flowers our farmed crops are looking well. The oilseed rape, being grown on our farm by a neighbour, has almost finished flowering and the pods that developed are now filling with seeds.

The maize we planted is now showing well in the rows and the plants are about 25cm tall. The variety we planted this year is called Rubeira, which will be harvested in the autumn for silage. It has a very high grain content in the ear, producing a crop with excellent starch and metabolisable energy content, a good feed crop for our cattle in the winter.

Our winter barley and winter wheat crops are both in ear, also looking well at this stage of growth.We also have good crops of grass and during the week moved our in-calf heifers (young females due to give birth to their first calves this autumn) into a fresh field. The animals proved to be very easy to move, as we had enlisted the help of many family members, just to ensure everything went smoothly. En route the heifers were corralled at the farm buildings, before being guided through a race, where they were treated with a pour-on fly repellent.

On Stowell Farm the ram lambs, born to 100 ewes as a result of artificial insemination, have been sorted ready for inspection by a representative from the Llyen Sheep Society.

Llyen sheep are a popular breed, chosen for productive, maternal and prolific traits. They are also uncomplicated and adaptable; equally suited to lowlands and highlands; produce white wool and have a quiet temperament. To enable a ram to be registered with the society it has to be true to type.

Also during the week the ewes grazing Corsham Park with lambs old enough to receive their second vaccination to protect them against a number of clostridial diseases were gathered and penned. This was done with the help of the Collies and a Huntaway. Huntaways are a strongly built breed of dog used for sheep herding tasks in New Zealand, from where they originate.

It is their loud bark that drives the sheep, when they are being rounded up. Each lamb was also wormed and, like our heifers treated with a fly repellent, to particularly give them protection against fly-strike. This is when flies lay their eggs in damp wool, with the maggots that hatch then burrowing down into the sheep's flesh. The eight-week weight of each ewe lamb was also recorded.

During the week Todd, a friend of Melissa and Kevin, sheared Natasha and Annabel's pet sheep. The sheep were penned in a corner of the field they were grazing before Todd set to work with the shears. It did not take too long to remove the very thick fleeces and I am sure the sheep felt much cooler. The fleeces felt very oily, which is the result of a naturally occurring fat called lanolin secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool bearing animals.

Lanolin makes up between five per cent and 25 per cent of the weight of freshly shorn wool. It's waterproofing property keeps the sheep dry.

At the end of the week Richard did some topping for Kevin in Corsham Park. He did say it was not easy as there were so many trees to cut round and the ground was a little uneven in places, but he saw plenty of birds on and around the lake.