Hurrah! A week without rain just makes life a little easier now we have to stay at home, apart from some daily outdoor exercise and essential journeys. It has been great to have seen a week of almost uninterrupted sunshine, even though the clear nights and a chilly north easterly breeze have given many of the days a chilly feel. However, at least the weather has made life for most of us a little more bearable under such extraordinary circumstances .

Life on both Manor and Chiverlins Farms has turned a corner. The mud has already turned to dust in some places, with a cracked crust showing in some of the fields. How quickly things can change! Fieldwork has begun in earnest with tractors now being attached to a variety of machines to prepare some of the uncultivated stubble fields for planting. Ian has sprayed a herbicide on some of our fields, also Kevin's, which had a heavy concentration of germinated weeds and was due to be drilled with spring barley and peas. Jenny has been busy with the power harrow preparing a seed bed in a field on Manor Farm, which was ploughed last year. Ian has also been spreading fertiliser onto our grass fields and has managed to put some on Kevin's autumn planted crops of winter wheat and barley.

At the beginning of the week the lambs born in January were weaned from their mothers. They are eating enough solid food so do not require additional milk and the ewes were probably looking forward to having some peace. One of the barns was cleaned and bedded up ready for all the lambs. It also had to be made escape proof. The ewes were put into another prepared barn further away where they are enjoying a well deserved rest. Lambing at the beginning of the year will hopefully mean that they will grade for the spring market.

Since weaning all the other barns and sheds have been cleaned out and apart from storing farm machinery will not be used until next lambing season.There are now only 15 ewes left to give birth, so nearly all the ewes and lambs are out grazing.

Another job was to give the replacement ewe lambs, born last spring, their booster vaccination against a number of clostridial diseases. To do this the yearling lambs were guided through a race to holding pen where each lamb was given a health check, especially it's feet. If any sign of lameness was detected this could be treated in the appropriate way once the lamb was restrained .

Kevin has recently received a grant towards the purchase of an auto drafter. The one Kevin has is a three way swing gate automatic sheep drafter, which will separate sheep into groups. Kevin thought he would give it a trial run so with help built a race leading to the drafter. The flock of ewes whose lambs were weaned from them at the beginning of the week were then penned and guided through the race. The drafter on this occasion was set on weights, splitting the sheep into those over 75 k, those under 50 k and those in between. Kevin told me it worked perfectly.

Whilst on one of my daily walks I followed the bridle road that runs through the farm into some woodland. It was on one of the warmer days of the past week and most enjoyable. I saw a Yellow Brimstone butterfly and a little further on a Peacock butterfly. These two species of butterfly hibernate overwinter and on the first available warm day take to the wing. I also saw many hover flies, a queen wasp and a number of different bumble bees foraging for nectar. I noticed that bluebells are beginning to flower. I sat for a while on a crudely constructed bench in the middle of the wood listening to a cacophony of bird song and the tapping of a wood pecker. What great music!