Over the last two weeks it has still not felt as though summer has properly arrived . Today is the longest day of the year , although one may be forgiven for wondering if it is truly here. The past fortnight has mainly been chilly , wet and miserable , but at last the rain seems to have stopped after depositing a total of 54 mm over the last 2 weeks . This rain was much needed as our fields were very dry , but hopefully the upward movement of the line being drawn on our barograph indicates that high pressure is on it's way and favourable silage making weather will arrive.

There has been a great deal going on over the last two weeks . The ears of grain on our winter wheat are plumping up well and those on the winter barley are beginning to develop a yellowish hue as they ripen. Richard has been servicing the combine harvester in preparation for gathering the cereal crops when they are mature . Our combine , shared with Kevin, is only used for a short time each year so it is essential that it is checked thoroughly before it begins it's work .

Here on Manor Farm, Ian has recently sprayed our winter wheat with it's final fungicide . this is called an "ear wash " as it protects the ears of grain from a number of fungal infections that can have a detrimental affect on the yield and quality of the grain . Kevin has also been spraying his winter wheat and spring barley with a final fungicide . It is about this time of year that next years cropping plan will be worked out . Ours and Kevin's agronomist will discuss any problems found in the fields over the past year , such as persistent weeds or diseases and then decide on the best rotation of crops and cultivating methods to be used once harvesting is complete.

During the last two weeks Kevin and Melissa have had two work experience students getting an insight into some of the work involved on a sheep farm . It was hoped that shearing would be the main job of the the last week , but unfortunately you cannot shear sheep when the fleeces are wet or damp. However several other jobs were completed , one was weaning all the spring born lambs except for about 200 of the youngest . The ewes and lambs were gathered and penned with the help of the collies . Then they were put through a race from where they were separated , the ewes being allowed back into the park and the lambs loaded into a trailer . The lambs were taken to a field as far from their mothers as possible ,so they could not be heard calling for each other . Without their lambs the ewes seemed quite relaxed , probably quite relieved that they would no longer be suckled by their large offspring. Whilst being separated the largest wethers ( castrated ram lambs ) were weighed and 28 were found to be in the right condition for sale . These remained with their mothers until they left the farm a week later.

Mid -week Kevin and his father went to the NSA ( National Sheep Association ) Sheep South West Event , which was held on a farm in N. Devon . It is the farm of Bryan and Liz Griffiths , who have farmed there for the last 35 years and have developed a simple commercial lamb production system using a blend of science and experience. Over a number of years they have been involved in trials , including those on worms resistance , lameness ,and more recently reducing the use of antibiotics whilst not compromising the health and welfare of the sheep. " Adapting to a Changing World "was one of the themes . Kevin and Francis were particularly interested in the latest science and technology , especially regarding a new handling system which uses computer technology to sort sheep by electronically reading the information on their ear -tags.