Since my last article back at the start of June I’ve been rather busy as I have taken on a new job. My new position is that of ‘mam’ having given birth to a baby girl, Elizabeth, on June 15.

This new role is certainly the most difficult, but rewarding one I’ve ever had and makes nightshift lambing and long days at harvest look like a doddle.

I’ve still been keeping involved with the farm since having Ellie, albeit just doing office work when granny is able to babysit and a bit of sheep work with her in tow in the baby carrier, which she seems to enjoy regardless of the noise.

When working with the sheep I can’t help but feel a bit jealous of the ewes with their independent young who can walk, put themselves on to feed and seem to sleep all night from pretty early on, while I carry my bald, helpless offspring about.

Dad has been busy the last few weeks with carrot and cereal spraying and a few drainage jobs, getting fields ready for autumn drilling. As we don’t grow winter barley, we get early entry for oilseed rape (OSR) after carrots and have two fields this year going into OSR, which we hope to get drilled in the next few days.

We find early drilling is key this far north to get crops off to a good strong start, and aim to have OSR drilled by August 10, each year.

Variety wise, we have gone with Chrome, which is clubroot resistant. Though we only grow OSR every seven to 10 years in our rotation, we always felt we had an underlying clubroot issue.

As it can last up to 15 years in the soil, a seven to 10-year rotation won’t mitigate the risk of it continuing in our fields, though we have only once actually found plants symptomatic of clubroot which was during a very wet winter which seemed to spread it across the field, hence the use of a resistant variety.

Our yields have often been very average, or below average actually, so this year it will be interesting to see if using a clubroot resistant variety gives any significant yield lift. Due to the wet August last year we didn’t get any OSR in, so we won’t start combining until we start spring barley probably in about a fortnight.

Spring barley crops look pretty good at the moment across the board, while wheat crops look much more mixed. It will be interesting to see how new variety, Tungsten, does compared to Laureate and Sassy, which we have been growing now for a few years.

We also have Westminster and Skyscraper winter wheat in for the first time this year, as well as Jackal which we have grown in the past. Though we aren’t cutting anything yet ourselves, we have started baling, having done a small area of contract winter barley straw so far.

We usually bale approximately 1500 OSR bales each year of both our own and bought straw destined for covering carrots which gives a nice early start for the balers.

This year we have cut right back on OSR straw as the demand for it has greatly reduced with a lot less carrots being grown in the local area, and will probably only bale about 300 bales.

It has been strange not having our usual Arable Business Group (ABG) and yield enhancement network meetings the last few months but I joined a Microsoft teams meeting last week with other members of our ABG which was very informative.

That said, I do find the flow of these online meetings strange as there are long awkward pauses and conversations can’t flow naturally – hopefully, it won’t be too long before we can return to normal with socially distanced face to face meetings.