WE have had another week of predominantly dry weather, just punctuated with a few minutes of light rain, which barely wet the ground. It seems unbelievable that after such a long wet spell the ditches and streams are dry once again. However, the week's weather has been quite pleasant, feeling warm with periods of hot sunshine.

On Manor Farm our crops continue to grow well. All our calves born since last autumn have now been weaned and the last 30 Aberdeen Angus x calves to be born have recently been given their first of two oral vaccinations to protect them against lungworm before they are turned out to grass for the first time.

The recent warm weather seems to have suddenly increased the fly population, which is troubling all livestock and some of our the housed Angus calves have succumbed to a disease called New Forest Eye. New Forest Eye is caused by a bacteria often spread by flies and is highly infectious. The symptoms show as runny eyes and if not treated with an antibiotic as soon as detected a white ulcer will develop and the animal can soon lose sight in the infected eye.

Kevin and Melissa have had to keep a close eye on their sheep, as although most are protected with a fly repellent some may get 'fly strike', which is when flies lay their eggs in damp wood and the hatching maggots burrow into the sheep's flesh.

During the last week Kevin has been making some large bales of silage as a way of preserving 45 acres of surplus grass. Richard and Ian helped cut and row up the grass before contractors arrived to bale and wrap the crop in plastic. Following this Kevin, Richard and Ian collected the bales taking them back to the farm for storage. As long as the plastic wrap does not puncture oxygen will be excluded and good quality silage will be made by the breakdown of sugars in the grass by naturally occurring lactobacillus bacteria.

On one of my walks around Manor Farm I could not help but notice the wonderful abundance and variety of wildlife we have on our farm this year. Buzzards are enjoying being able to rise high into the sky on warm thermals. Herons pass over, looking for a tasty meal of fish or frogs and there are many swallows nesting in old buildings and our stables. Also swifts screaming as they fly, never touching the ground. All the trees look fresh, adorned with leaves of every shade of green and hedgerows now white with elder flowers. Unfortunately there has over the last few years been an increase in the amount of hemlock growing on our farms. Hemlock is a biennial flowering plant in the carrot family, but is very poisonous, easily recognised by purple spots showing on its stems.

June 10 was Open Farm Sunday. This has become the day of the year when more than 1,000 farms across the UK open their gates to the public. Organised by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), and sponsored by a number of organisations with connections in food and farming, Open Farm Sunday now attracts many thousands of people onto our farms.

It is a day when we can show people from town and country how we produce the food they eat, using all the science and technology now available, also showing them how we care for our animals, crops and the environment.

This year Richard and I were two of many helpers on Temple Farm, Marlborough. Temple Farm is one of a group of farms which make up the Marlborough Downs Space for Nature, which is committed to improve nature conservation in the local countryside.

Well over 2,000 people arrived on a beautiful sunny day to see a variety of farm animals, sheep shearing, a line-up of impressive tractors and machinery, sample local foods and go on a tractor ride around part of the farm. The queue for the tractor ride seemed to be endless. It was a great day, enjoyed by all those who attended.