What a variety of weather we have experienced here on Manor Farm over the last month. Temperatures during the first week of September reached around 30 C for three days. Then there was a definite fall in temperature, with patchy rain, which soon gave way to more sunny days . However as September drew to a close 48.5mm of rain suddenly arrived to give a total rainfall for the month of 63mm. It will be interesting to see what the annual rainfall turns out to be. For the first three months of this year we have had a total of 500mm, the average annual rainfall for Wiltshire is 800 mm !

I have no need to tell you that all field work has stopped, hopefully not for long. Some more hedge trimming has been possible, but that is all. Kevin has purchased a new, bigger fertiliser spreader, but with the price of fertiliser rising almost daily, for a number of reasons including availability and global demand , I am not sure if it will be affordable. Apparently the price of nitrogen is currently £1 a kilo ! As gardeners will know organic manure, if available, will supply some nutrients, but growing plants have a huge demand.

During the week all our yearling Angus cattle were brought back from fields to the farm, where they were given their second vaccination to protect them from a number of clostridial diseases, including blackleg, which suddenly affected several of our animals during the recent dry period. Fortunately it seems to be under control, with all the animals now in the barn, where they will remain from now until next spring. Another job was to collect another batch of 60 weaned calves, from a local unit. These Angus x calves are settling into their new home, with our vet calling in to check that there are no health problems. Ian has noticed that one or two of the young calves are coughing more than he would like, so with a veterinary visit a decision can be made on whether any treatment is necessary .

Kevin has split the lambs born during the spring into two flocks , one is made up of ewe lambs, the other of wethers (castrated ram lambs ). After the split they were moved to two fields of fresh grass.

Recently Annabel's small group of family pet sheep has become a little larger with the introduction of Liquorice. As the name might suggest he is a black lamb and has been kept entire, so it is hoped that he will sire some black lambs or maybe some with black patches of wool, to try and breed some easily identifiable rams, which can be vasectomised and used as teasers. As we all know breeding can produce some odd results . The pet flock is made up of two other black ewes Blackberry, two, and Hazel, one. Palini , the matriarch of the remainder, is 12. Her two daughters Rosie and Buttercup are 10 and eight respectively and she has a granddaughter Daisy, who is six. Then also with the pets are two friends and a ewe that recovered from a leg injury, but is happier kept close to the farm. So watch this space as all will be revealed next year. Lleyn sheep are not a crossbred, originating from the Lleyn Peninsula in Gwynedd, NW Wales . They are bred for a number of good characteristics, including good mothering, being of a quiet nature, having good milk and white wool . They are suited to upland and lowland grazing and are now bred mainly for meat. Their milk was traditionally used to make cheese and the lambs sold early for the spring trade.

Autumn seems to have arrived, but despite a late start to the breeding season the swallows returning to my outbuildings have bred successfully with second broods of fledglings managing to become independent enough to begin the long journey to South Africa . Fortunately the warm weather in September meant there was an abundance of flies to build up body condition and strength before the arduous journey. The hedges are decked with berries, including sloes, the fruit of blackthorn, just waiting to be used for delicious sloe gin.