There have been early morning ground frosts, but these have not affected my beautiful magnolia tree, looking better than it has for a number of years. There have been long periods of sunshine but when the sun hides behind passing clouds it has felt particularly cold. A damp day during the week did nothing to help our thirsty cereal crops, now desperate for a drink. The top layer of soil has crusted and the prolonged chilly air temperature has not helped the growing crops in patches of fields which became water-logged earlier in the year.

Meanwhile we have to give our cereals the best chance to grow and hopefully yield well, so together with advice from our agronomists, Ian and Kevin have recently applied herbicides and fertilisers to the growing plants where needed. On Manor and Chiverlins Farms we are growing winter wheat, winter barley, spring barley and winter oats. During the week Kevin has been cultivating fields to prepare a seed bed ready for the planting of peas.

At the beginning of the week we turned our Angus cattle out in a field which borders the barn they have been housed in over the winter. As you can imagine they were very pleased to be out in the sunshine with grass under their hooves, but we really need some warm spring showers, as the grass is not growing well at the moment. After turnout it is important not to change the diet too quickly so Ian is calling the Anguses back into the barn each day where they have a feed of silage and a concentrate balancer. Providing the balancer not only tops up the nutrients they need, but obviously tastes delicious, so encourages them into the barn when Ian calls.

Kevin only has three ewes left to give birth. Now almost all the ewes and their newborn lambs are out in the fields, only the small nursery of lambs that could not be found foster mums remain on Manor Farm requiring bottle feeding. Lambing the two flocks, earlies and lates, has gone well and during the week the first group of early born lambs had reached the required finished weight for sale. All that remained was for Kevin to contact his agent, who found a market and arranged transport. The price being paid for new season lambs is quite good at the moment, so I am pleased that Kevin and his family will be rewarded for all the hard work and care that has gone into producing their high quality, Red Tractor farm assured lambs.

It has been great to be able to start Pony Club activities once again. Here on Manor Farm we have managed to hold a number of rallies for the children. The first was an Easter Ride.

Having to follow all the Covid protocols meant that we could not hold the normal egg hunt. Nevertheless, we organised a circular ride around part of the farm, which incorporated part of a bridleway which runs through a wood adjacent to it. On returning to the start (the barns ) the children were each given a small bag of assorted mini chocolate eggs. The children were dressed in Easter costumes, which often included a lovely pair of rabbit ears and being able to meet up with their friends once again was an added bonus.

The swallows have arrived at my house. It always amazes me how they manage to arrive on virtually the same date every year April 14! It is hard to believe these small birds migrate from Africa every spring to breed in and around villages and farms. Swallows feed on their favourite prey, large flies, doing this on the wing with the aid of their long tails to steer. As they have arrived to breed they will be looking for nesting material, which being mainly mud is in short supply at the moment. I think I will make a muddy pool somewhere in the garden .