AS the ground continues to dry out the temperature seems to be rising. There have been short damp spells and when there has been air movement the breezes have been rather chilly, coming from a northerly direction so the roar of the motorway continues to be inaudible. The line being drawn on our barograph remains flat, as it has done for some weeks. However, we have now passed the longest day of the year. It seems almost impossible that we are now almost halfway through 2018.

It has been a busy week on the farms. Here on Manor Farm we have had a follow-up 60 day TB test, as on our previous annual test we had a positive reactor, so are currently on TB restriction. The cattle are in four groups, young calves, older calves, in-calf heifers and milking cows. The young calves are still in a barn but all the other cattle are out at grass. The older calves were brought in from the field the night before the test and housed overnight in a barn next to the dairy. The first animals to be tested on Tuesday morning were the young calves, followed by the in-calf heifers, then the older calves.

The cows were tested as they exited the milking parlour following afternoon milking, which is less stressful. Three days later the site of the skin test on every animal had to be checked to see whether any showed a reaction. Unfortunately it was a dry cow tested early in the morning which was a positive reactor.

Checking all the other cattle that day was of no consequence, even though there were no more reactors. We therefore still need two clear 60-day tests in order for the restriction to be lifted. The only good thing that day was the cattle were easy to handle, so no one was hurt.

We have also been busy making some more silage. We had sold some standing grass earlier in the year hoping that we would not need it, but being on a TB restriction means that we can only send our cattle straight to the abattoir or to special markets where we will be paid less than the animals are worth.

We have kept all our Aberdeen Angus x calves, born since last autumn, so we now have extra cattle to feed. Fortunately the neighbour who bought a field of our second cut grass said he could now manage without it, so during the week we cut and rowed up the grass. Our contractor then picked up and chopped the crop, which was then taken back to our silage clamp in large trailers by Matt, Ian and Richard.

On Stowell Farm Kevin, with help from Richard and Ian, has made some large bales of silage from some fields of surplus grass. In this case the grass was cut and rowed up, following which it was baled into large bales, then a machine wrapped the bales in several layers of strong cling film. The bales were then gathered and taken back to the farm to be stored, taking care during the handling not to pierce them and let air in, which would cause spoilage.

Another job done on Stowell Farm was to wean the lambs born in the spring. This involved gathering the ewes and their lambs the evening before. The dogs worked very hard gathering the sheep from all corners of Corsham Park, directing them through an erected funnel of hurdles to a small field on one side. Like the cattle being TB tested the sheep did not cause a problem, probably due to the fact there were plenty of us helping. The following day the ewes were separated from their lambs, as they are now old enough to fend for themselves. For a few days the park was very noisy but all the sheep have now settled down.