What a hot sunny start to the week, with temperatures soaring to almost 30 C once again. After this somewhat cooler weather arrived giving a mixture of clouds and sunshine which led to a mid-week deluge of 24 mm of rain falling in just over 12 hours. For the remainder of the week cloud cover was interspersed with some warm sunshine.

All the harvested winter barley, which has all been sold, has been delivered by us to a local grain store.The overall yield of grain was what we would have expected from our ground, although slighly lower from one of the fields and slightly higher from another. The bushel weight ( the weight in kilos per hectre litre - k/hl ) for each load was recorded on arrival at the grain store. The weights ranged from a low of 60 k/ hl to 67, which are not too bad.

No drying charges had to be deducted as all loads were below 15 per cent, ranging from 12.7 per cent to 14.7 per cent. There is still one field of winter barley left to harvest, but hopefully it will soon be more evenly ripe and the combine can begin work once again. All the straw has been baled into large round bales by a contractor, with much of it now stored under cover.

Nathan and James have continued to empty our large slurry store, spreading liquid slurry onto stubble areas prior to cultivating and planting in the early autumn.

The older heifers, due to give birth to their first calves from the end of August, together with the milking cows also due to calve at the same time, (now not being milked and on their annual summer holiday) have been treated with a fly repellent.This is applied as a pour-on and hopefully will give them some relief from the recent abundance of all types of flies, including biting ones. Flies love a warm humid atmosphere, so are really enjoying making the most of the optimum conditions for breeding. Whilst the cattle were being restrained, in order to apply the repellent, Richard took a close look at the foot of a heifer that had just become lame and treated it appropriately.

At the end of the week we had a routine visit from our vet, particularly to do some pregnancy diagnoses. Richard was quite pleased with the result as he had feared many would be found not to be in-calf. She also took a close look at the foot of a persistently lame milking cow, before sticking a remedial shoe onto the good claw in order to keep the damaged claw off the ground and give it time to heal.

Over the last week we have been hosting a work experience student from year 10 of a local secondary school. Toby very much enjoyed his five days with us, shadowing Richard as he did various jobs on the farm.

One of the tasks he helped with was to repair more electric wires on our combine,which had been chewed by mice over the winter months. Most of the wires led from sensors, so did not stop the combine from running, but the information they give is very useful. Toby also accompanied Richard when he took the barley to the store, so he could see the rigorous testing and recording of each load before it was tipped. Another job was to observe and help Ruth do the milking. He really got stuck into this job, even the cleaning afterwards.

On Stowell Farm almost half the flock of breeding ewes, ewe lambs ( due to go with the rams later in the year ) and all the rams were shorn a few weeks ago.

On one day last week the remaining almost 1,000 ewes were shorn by three shearers. They brought a packer with them to roll up the fleeces and pack them into wool sacks supplied by the British Wool Board (BWB). The BWB collects, grades, promotes and sells British fleece wool, doing this since 1950 and operates a central marketing system using a fully computerised auction system. The aim is to achieve the best possible net return for producers.