TODAY, the last day of the week, has been a beautiful sunny day although it has felt rather cold. We awoke to a sharp frost with our thermometer showing that the temperature was only -2C with a really chilly feel to the air as the wind turned to come from the east. The rest of the week has given us periods of sunshine, but the clouds were never far away, sometimes accompanied by damp, murky conditions. To add a little excitement to the week, an earthquake with its epicentre just north of Swansea, shook our house on the Saturday.

At first I thought something had hit the house as, as the floors, windows and cupboards shook and rattled for a second or two, a very strange occurrence and not something we expect.

Mid-week Richard and I attended the annual NFU conference held in the ICC, Birmingham. The event this year was entitled 'Recipe for Change' and, as you might guess, focused around possible outcomes following our exit of the EU next year.

It was one of the best conferences we have attended over many years, with a record 1,500 delegates filling the auditorium to hear MPs, trade, industry and business representatives giving presentations on how they were preparing for the future.

The opening speech given by retiring NFU president Meurig Raymond was truly inspirational, with his closing remark being that "Food is at the heart of British farming".

Michael Gove, Secretary of State, told us very little, but did say that there would be a new system of agricultural support using public money for environmental protection and enhancement; more funding for research and development and more investment in broadband.

During his speech Michael Gove seemed to use the word 'shortly' quite frequently, so we are all wondering how long shortly will be.

An interesting presentation from Julian Braithwaite, WTO ambassador for trade, told us of the need to agree tariffs quickly and smoothly as no other country's trade must be damaged in the transition.

Shanker Singham, Director of Economic Policy and Prosperity Studies at the Legatum Institute, said that tariffs between the UK and the EU should be zero, also the need for a level playing field and the improvement of the regulatory environment based on sound science. He said that farmers needed the right environment in which to farm in order to make them competitive.

Then there was presentation from Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. He said there was a need to encourage careers in food and farming as UK productivity has not kept up with its competitors.

Therefore more money will go into research and development; the use of artificial intelligence and automation such as the project undertaken at Harper Adams University, where a hectare of spring barley was grown and harvested exclusively by robots. More funding would also be available for product development as well as for education and apprenticeships, thus building a workforce with skills for the future.

Returning to Manor Farm, the week ended with three unusual events. The first was discovered by Ian when he checked the cows before going to bed. A cow had been knocked over by another cow and was unable to get up. At 11pm Ian called the vet, Richard and Nathan to help the injured animal. Sadly the young cow had to be put to sleep.

The second thing to happen was that the engine of one of our tractors over-heated. On taking a closer look it was found that a rat had got caught up in the fan belt, causing it to break.

Finally a delivery lorry arrived at the farm, stopped at the top of the driveway, almost blocking it, after which he could not re-start the engine, so had to wait several hours for a mechanic to get him going again. Quite an eventful week!

By Denise Plummer