The drier, warmer weather has helped the spring flowers to bloom in abundance. We have some wonderful displays of primroses, white violets, celandines and I even spotted a patch of wood anemones on a hedgerow bank. Hazel trees are at present decorated with long male catkins, given the well known name lamb's tails, which they resemble. Hazel trees have over the years been very useful for both humans and animals, surrounded by a vast amount of folklore. Hazel is usually coppiced and has for many years been used for things such as fencing, hurdles, walking sticks, even barrel hoops and fishing rods. It is also used as fuel. The nuts are eaten by a number of small mammals and some large birds. The nuts are also said to have mystic powers, warding off evil spirits and some ailments. Hazel rods are also thought to be the best for water divining .

Most of the lambs born late January or early February have now been weaned, their mothers now out grazing. The smaller lambs have also been split into a separate group to prevent them being pushed away from the feeders by the larger ones. Following weaning the larger barns were given a thorough clean and all the manure was removed mechanically. A sprinkle of lime was then scattered over the floor to disinfect and help the floor dry before a thick layer of fresh straw was spread. Then the individual hurdle pens were erected as the post-natal area, where each mother and her newborn offspring could be kept a close eye on for a few days .

Second lambing is now in full swing, in fact nearly half the 500 ewes have given birth, so once again the barns are full. The ewes have been divided into groups according to how many lambs they are carrying, those carrying singles, twins or multiples. To date five ewes have given birth to quads, which are all thriving. However for this lambing session the mums are only able to look after two lambs as they will be going out into fields with their newborn offspring once Kevin has decided that all is well . The extra lambs are fostered onto ewes that have had single lambs or a stillbirth. If a foster mum can't be found the lambs are put into a nursery area where they are bottle fed several times a day. Hopefully the number of lambs being hand reared will remain small.

Recently the ewe lamb flock replacements (born spring 2020 ) were gathered in the field they were grazing and given their booster vaccination to protect them from clostridial diseases . They were wormed at the same time with an anthelmintic to kill any internal parasites .

Ian has recently been spraying a herbicide on some of our wheat and barley crops. He was delayed for a while as the sprayer needed a new hydraulic ram for one of the sprayer booms. The part took two weeks to arrive, being told that this was due to Brexit. All our crops look well at the moment, except for a few patches which suffered from the earlier wet conditions. I have to say that the recent sunny, dry period has given the stressed plants a boost and with the nitrogen fertiliser they were given a few weeks ago they will hopefully grow on well.

Ian and Jenny have begun to replace and repair worn fencing around some of the fields on Manor Farm. This is a requirement of the grant portion of our Countryside Stewardship agreement . We are also selling maize and grass silage to some local farmers .

Could I just finish this week by asking people to keep their dogs on leads when walking near sheep and lambs and not to stray off of footpaths, as when approached the ewes and lambs can become very distressed causing the newborn lambs to become separated from their mums.