THE week began with another drenching. On Saturday almost an inch of rain fell on Manor Farm, with drier days to follow, but a shower of light rain was never far away. Temperatures at the beginning of the week were into double figures, but on 2 days mid-week fell low enough to give a frost. On the Saturday I was driving visitors around Roves Farm and it was the first day in 20 years that every tractor ride was in the rain. Fortunately, nobody seemed to mind, accepting that they would get rather wet.

For Chippenham Young Farmers it was a different story as Kevin and colleagues were forced to make a decision about the running of the annual ploughing match, due to take place on Sunday. After a thorough inspection of gateways and field conditions it was decided that it would have to be postponed until next spring. Then it was just a matter of contacting all the competitors, some coming from afar a field as Pembroke in Wales. However Chippenham YFC were able to hold their Harvest Supper during the week. The evening was much enjoyed by everyone, with a tasty meal provided by the committee, a raffle and a game of carpet horse racing proved to be great fun.

Kevin recently sold several tonnes of peas harvested earlier this season. These were sold as Blue Peas, which are the same as Split Green Peas but the skins are left on. Blue Peas are firm and tasty, particularly used in Asian cooking.They are a good addition to stews, curries and spicy dishes.

During the week a few more of our finished Angus x beef cattle were sold and collected. The price being paid for finished beef cattle is considerably reduced, due to a decrease in consumer demand and extra finished cattle on the market. Our small herd of Red Devon beef cattle were brought into a barn as they were not enjoying the wet weather and were beginning to poach (making rutted muddy patches) the field they were grazing. All our cattle are now housed except for a small group of later born Angus x calves and two dairy " free martins ". A free martin is the female twin of a mixed set of bovine twins, when the female is usually sterile due to the male hormones dominating during her development in the uterus .

As the ground became a little drier mid-week Ian , Kevin and Jenny managed to do some more field work. There was more seedbed preparation to finish and even now there are fields on both Manor and Chiverlins farm that may not be planted until next spring. Having managed to prepare some of the fields ready for sowing, the slightly drier weather enabled some fields on both farms to be drilled with winter wheat. Three varieties have been chosen Costello, Siskin and Graham. These seem to be favoured by many farmers due to their good grain quality, disease resistance, standing power and the ability to plant later in the season. Planting later helps farmers to control blackgrass, a native annual grass weed. It has the ability to rapidly increase its population, with no one method of control being effective.

Kevin has recently brought 200 wethers (castrated ram lambs) into one of the barns to finish them for sale. The grass now has a high water content and little in the way of nutrients, so the lambs were eating enough food for maintenance but not for putting on condition. Smaller wethers have been moved to to a new grass ley and ewe lamb replacements to fresh pasture, where they will stay over winter. All this moving of flocks of sheep has also meant that a great length of sheep fencing has had to be moved from one field to another.

The autumn colours are beginning to show but to see them at their best we could do with some sunny, drier weather. However my favourite oak tree on the farm looks magnificent, even though only a few of its leaves have begun to show autumn colours.