Another dry week. Just 3 mm of rainfall, but that disappeared within minutes. Temperatures have remained in the teens, with a mixture of sunshine and clouds.

I do know that our crops are beginning to look stressed, desperately needing a good drink.

The making of grass silage is gathering pace as most farmers have now decided to take the first cut before it does rain.

On Manor farm both Ian and Kevin are preparing machinery and silage clamps in readiness, hoping to begin cutting this week.

Preparing means washing tractors and making sure that safety checks,such as brakes, tyres, and lights are functioning correctly before they start bringing heavy trailers of grass from field to farm, quite often along roads.

The trailers are also given a routine check, as they too have to be safe and roadworthy. Farming has a bad record as far as accidents are concerned, too often resulting in life-changing injuries or fatalities.

The trailers were last used mainly for hauling grain at harvest, so during the past week Kevin and Ian have bolted on the high sides, ready to transport the cut grass.

Farming friends near Swindon have just completed their first cut, grass silage making. Instead of expensive nitrogen fertiliser they use slurry produced by the cattle,which is spread using an umbilical system.

This is basically using a dribble bar mounted on a tractor, which applies liquid slurry fed via a flexible hose from the slurry lagoon. The dribble bar applies the liquid slurry fractionally above ground level.

This not only minimises nutrient losses and contamination of the grass, but keeps airborne smell to a minimum as well.

Cutting the grass (170 acres ) was started two days before the forage harvester arrived. The forage harvester picked up, chopped and blew the grass into trailers, which transported it back to the storage area.

The grass needs to be cut at its best, which is when the sugars are high; it is not particularly wet and has not started to go to seed. It was fascinating watching all the machines working together on pick up day. The single rows after mowing were gathered up into thicker rows by a big rake.

The self-propelled forage harvester then gathered the rows. The trailers, when full, were taking the grass back to the farm and the mower was keeping well ahead of the forager to allow time for wilting.

All the grass was ensiled on the same day, compacted to get rid of as much air as possible, before it was covered and sealed with a plastic sheet. Despite the dry weather there was much more grass than expected.Hopefully the quality will be good.

On Manor Farm Ian has put the final dressing of nitrogen fertiliser on our wheat and barley. On Chiverlins Farm Kevin has applied his final dressing of nitrogen fertiliser to his wheat, barley and oats, now about knee high.

The price of fertiliser is extremely high at the moment, but we have to try and produce a good crop. Kevin has also put the first application of fungicide on his wheat.

There are many fungal infections, which can affect are growing crops, so prevention is better than finding you suddenly have a loss of healthy leaf area, essential for growth and eventual yield of grain.

Last week the first of Kevin's finished new season lambs were collected for sale and another 73 were selected with help from Ian. They will be collected next week . Hopefully the price will remain high. Another job ,also done with Ian's help, was to move sheep. Grass for the sheep is rapidly running out as the dry weather continues.

Grandson Dominic is getting busier as the growing season progresses at Coleshill. He has plants in a greenhouse, in polytunnels and outside.

Plants growing outside include spinach, beetroot, khol rabi, plants which make up the salad mix and some early brassicas covered with enviromesh to keep them from being eaten.

There is also a plot of potatoes where three varieties are being grown, including the popular Charlotte.There is a plot each of carrots, broad beans,onions and strawberries. He has a four year rotation consisting of brassicas, squash,leeks and a green manure crop, which is worked back into the soil.

Also in the walled garden is a 20 year old apple orchard, the trees of which were originally grafted onto dwarf root stock .There is also a small copse of hazel ,which Dominic is coppicing for compost.