There were plenty of times when the sun shone between the clouds but harvesting our cereal crops became increasingly difficult as the week wore on.

We did manage to harvest one field of spring barley, a variety with the name Cosmopolitan.

This is set to be a high yielding malting barley with superb performance when grown anywhere in the UK. It also has excellent disease resistance , especially to a number of prevalent fungal infections.

At the moment it has provisional approval for brewing, but is still under test with the maltsters.

Ian decided that we ought to send a Cosmopolitan grain sample for testing to see if it had achieved the required specification for use as a malting barley. Unfortunately the nitrogen content was found to be too high which was a shame as there is quite a good premium for the correct quality. The weather this year has not made growing conditions easy for our crops and perhaps the timing of fertiliser application was affected by the sudden transitions between drought, heat and rainfall.

We then sold our spring barley for animal feed and Ian delivered it to a local storage facility. Although the crop yielded almost 3 tonnes per acre, which for our ground was good, we had a deduction taken from the agreed price. This occured as the moisture content of the barley was found to be 16% , 1% over the accepted level, so will need drying before storage.

There are a number of deductions that can be made, such as for low bushel weight and for a sample which is found to contain rather too much "rubbish " , such as weed seeds and grains from a previously grown crop of another variety.

The straw from the spring barley has been baled into large rounds and will be used by Kevin for bedding up his sheep when they are housed over the winter. Kevin has sold all the winter barley from his store fortunately incurring no deductions in the agreed price per tonne.

During the week, apart from daily checks on all the sheep, 200 of the ewes that will be giving birth in early January next year were gathered and treated with a fly repellent. The damper more humid weather has brought the flies out in large numbers, so it is essential to make sure we keep all our livestock protected from annoyance of flies, also from flystrike, when maggots from blowflies can chew their way into the animal's flesh.

Teasers ( vasectomised rams ) have just been turned out into the fields with the other ewes that will give birth early next year. This is to encourage their reproductive cycles to begin, to prepare them for the introduction of the rams. At the moment there is plenty of grass to be grazed ahead of the sheep so Kevin has to keep an eye on when and where to move the different groups scattered in fields on and around the farm .

Last week I said that I had discovered a new vegetable. Dominic, now working with fruit and vegetables on Close Farm Organics, brought home some Kohlrabi. It is a rather peculiar looking member of the brassica family, which includes vegetables such as cauliflowers , broccoli and kale. It's translation in German is " turnip cabbage ". The bulb from which the shoots sprout is pale green or purple in colour and is rich in calcium and magnesium. Kohlrabi can be eaten raw or cooked and is especially good in stir fries. It has a mild, sweet flavour and is crisp and crunchy with the leaves being edible as well.