THE clocks have now been put back an hour, with daylight hours becoming noticeably shorter. During the past week the days have been pleasantly autumnal, with plenty of sunshine, early morning mist and our first grass frost, with temperatures on Manor Farm falling away to 3.5C.

On Roves Farm I have spent a few days taking trailer loads of visitors along a Halloween trail, which was most enjoyable in the autumn sunshine, passing fields of Sussex and Highland cattle, some with calves at foot born a few months ago. There were also some sheep and of course the outdoor Gloucester Old Spot pigs enjoying their search for grubs and anything else edible that may be in the soil.

Here on Manor Farm cattle work continues to take up a most of the day. Nathan has been disassembling, cleaning and disinfecting calf pens recently vacated by calves recently weaned. Once clean the pens will be put back together on a different site in the barn ready for the next batch of calves due to be born.

Richard has hooked on the hedge-cutter once again to finish trimming hedges he did not manage to cut earlier. He has also switched off the water supply to outlying cattle drinking troughs, just in case we have some prolonged spells of freezing weather.

Then there was a puncture in a front tyre of one of the tractors to repair. David, our nutritionist, has called to note dairy cow costings for the last month and this season we are checking the weight of a random selection of calves using a belly-band, in order to monitor their growth rate so that adjustments can be made to their feed ration if necessary.

Some arable fields due to be planted with maize next year have been cultivated once more to destroy any weed seedlings which have germinated since the soil was last disturbed, also to encourage any dormant seeds to begin to grow.

During the week I have been responsible for checking the flock of wethers (castrated ram lambs) now resident on Manor Farm. It has been very enjoyable strolling around the field the sheep are grazing and fortunately there have been no problems. The other day it seemed as if spring had arrived. Some of the sheep had gathered together in groups and were frolicking about, leaping into the air, jumping off all four feet to what I thought were incredible heights.

In my last diary I referred to a new project being undertaken by the Marlborough Downs Nature Enhancement Partnership (MDNEP).

The project, under the banner of a Space for Nature, is The Bee Road. At the MDNEP supper one of the speakers was Millie Carmichael, spearheading the campaign as a volunteer of Transition Marlborough; another, Dr Jemma Batten of the MDNEP, is also getting involved in the project to encourage farmers, local communities and schools to create a joined-up bee-friendly corridor of forage and habitat between Marlborough and Pewsey.

Many organisations are trying to help bees and other insect pollinators and it is hoped that the project will be replicated in other areas to create a continuous corridor, making life easier for these insects to find the rich forage they need.

Another recent event Richard and I attended was Chippenham Young Farmers Club (YFC) Ploughing Match, which took place at Wick Farm, Lacock.

On the day the weather was perfect, with good entries in all the classes. There were classes for reversible, vintage hydraulic, classic hydraulic, and vintage trailed ploughs, with a large audience watching all the machines at work, whilst tucking into beef burgers, bacon butties and hot or cold drinks, not forgetting a large variety of delicious cakes made for the occasion. Next week I will tell you a little more about the competition.