Checking stock this time of year is one of the main jobs we do, making sure on a daily basis that all the sheep and cattle are in the best of health. The sheep are scattered over a wide area of grazing venues, so it takes a large part of the day for Kevin's father, Francis, to find them all. Our cattle are in two groups grazing quite a large area, so Ian also has some ground to cover first thing in the morning, when checking all is well.

I am very disappointed to tell you that although dogs seem to be more under control there is a problem with all types of litter. There is an old race system which was used when the sheep were gathered, so that each individual animal could be given appropriate vaccinations, health checks or just split into different groups. This old construction is apparently being used as a dumping site for bags of dog faeces. I believe the park manager found in excess of 50 bags' full, not counting the ones found hanging in trees. There are also some dead tree trunks which have been left as bug habitat to enhance biodiversity. Unfortunately these will have to be removed as the site is attracting people who have picnics and BBQs. This would not be so bad but the litter being left is mounting up. A water trough has also been tampered with, also been filled with an assortment of cutlery and stones. It seems such a shame for our beautiful countryside to be blighted with litter. Fly-tipping in our county has also increased, being of major concern to the farmers, who have to get the discarded items cleared at their own expense.

At the beginning of the week Kevin spent some time repairing the boom self-leveling mechanism on his sprayer. A pin had fallen out which bent a bar. The repair took longer when Kevin discovered that the wrong parts had been supplied. Whilst Kevin was repairing his sprayer Ian helped him out by using ours to complete some crop spraying. This was to put a fungicide on the winter wheat and a herbicide on the winter barley. At the end of the week Kevin was able to spray his oats with a manganese solution. Oats are very susceptible to manganese deficiency which damages the leaves causing stunted growth. This deficiency is enhanced by cool, dry weather, which has been prevalent in recent months.

Another group of lambs born March/ April were ready to be given their first vaccination to protect them against a disease called Pasteurella . It is caused by 2 common bacteria, typically causing pneumonia and death. Lambs are very susceptible, but sheep of all ages can succumb. At the same time the ewes were treated to help prevent them from getting fly-strike. This is caused by blowflies , which lay their eggs in damp fleece or in lesions which may occur under the feet. It is extremely distressing for the sheep once the maggots hatch and can lead to death if not treated quickly, so prevention is the best way of dealing with this condition. If the weather warms up significantly after the prolonged cold spell we have experienced the flies will appear in annoyingly large numbers. More early born lambs were found to have reached the required finished weight and have been collected from the farm. Sorting out the sheep for culling was another job done during the week.

Ian was called to help a neighbouring farmer transport the crop of cut grass back to their silage clamp and we have also been preparing for silage making . The high silage sides have been added to one trailer, the clamp has been partially lined with plastic sheeting and Jenny has used the power washer to clean the tractors.So we are nearly ready to go !