The weather over the last week has again been a mixture of clouds, sunshine and fairly strong wind. There was also some rainfall, with 17 mm falling overnight at the beginning of my week, a fairish amount in one session. Although breezy it felt quite warm most of the time, especially as the week progressed.

I am continuing to see a variety of butterflies in quite large numbers, including yellow brimstones, red admirals, peacocks, marble whites, speckled woods, large and small whites, not forgetting large numbers of gate keepers which enjoy the bramble blossom. I have also seen a number of different caterpillars, especially large numbers of peacock butterfly larvae and those of the small tortoiseshell feeding voraciously on stinging nettles. The highlight of my week has been my first proper sighting of a nuthatch (although I hasten to add , not on Manor Farm). The nuthatch is a small bird, almost woodpecker-like at first glance, but moves head-up or head-down on branches (unlike woodpeckers). It has a black stripe through each eye, and a blue/grey back, with the colour extending over its head. It also has a sharp pointed beak. Unfortunately it would not remain still enough for a photo!

It has been a busy week on the farm, starting with the moving and sorting of the rams. Everyone was called on to help guide them along a road and back to a barn, where they were split into two groups, mature breeding rams and this year's ram lambs. The ram lambs will not be used for breeding until they are two years old. After sorting, each group was taken to fresh pasture. The ewes were also sorted into two flocks of 500; one flock selected to lamb early in the coming year, the other in the spring. Kevin's father Francis has been regularly running some ewes with persistent foot problems through a footbath to try to improve their foot health, which does seem to be getting better.

Harvesting our winter barley also began during the week, as the crop appeared to be ripe and the moisture was below the limit of 15 %. If the moisture content of the harvested grain is above 15 %, it has to be dried and we do not have a dryer, so it would be an additional cost. Due to the extreme wet, followed by drought, the crop has not yielded as well as usual. Ian told me we got just over 2 tonnes/acre and we would normally expect about 3 tonnes/acre. The crop had not achieved its normal height and although the ears of grain were ripe, the stalks (straw) were very green. Kevin found that he could not harvest a few unripe patches, so these will be left until a single remaining field of winter barley on Manor Farm is ready. It was then decided that the only field of winter barley on Chiverlins Farm was ready to gather, so Kevin, with Ian as an escort, set off with the combine to complete the task.

During the week we had another farm assurance inspection. This was a livestock inspection covering all aspects of farming beef and sheep. It is known as a FABBL inspection, which stands for Farm Assured British Beef and Lamb. Like the inspection we recently had for our crop assurance it was carried out by sending copies of all the relevant records, such as veterinary and medicine (including a health plan); movements of Kevin's sheep and our beef cattle on and off the farm; feed rations; manure usage; sprayer records. The copies of all the records required for inspection were sent online. Then using a mobile phone the inspector was given a virtual tour of the farm. He saw our beef cattle in the field, checking that they each had two ear-tags. Melissa then showed him the sheep in a number of fields and some that had been brought into a barn ready for sale into the lamb market. He looked at the stock trailers, checking them for suitability and cleanliness, also places where animal feed is stored to make sure these areas are clean and free from rodents. Animal handling systems are checked to ensure they meet current standards of health and safety for both livestock and the people working with them. FABBL is part of the Red Tractor Assurance Scheme, with British farmers in this scheme proudly producing food that is able to carry the Red Tractor quality mark.