THE weather over the past week has generally been rather unpleasant.

The temperature may have risen into double figures, but the the accompanying wind has made it feel quite chilly at times. Rain in varying amounts has fallen most days with over an inch falling in 24 hours towards the end of the week.

However, the autumn colours are looking quite beautiful, with my favourite oak tree on the farm looking resplendent in its cloak of golden leaves.

During the past week we had another 60-day interval TB test. Our lives have been on hold since failing our annual test at the beginning of the year, when one cow was found to be a reactor.

This was the first time we had a test failure for many years and meant that we were unable to sell our dairy herd as we had planned. After 60 days we had another test, again one cow was found to be a reactor, so had to be slaughtered. The next 60-day test was clear, so everything was focused on last week’s test.

Every bovine in our herd from the age of 42 days upwards was given a skin test on Tuesday, which was read on Friday, 72 hours later.

All the different groups of cattle had to be gathered and driven to the farm buildings on both days.

All the young stock and dry cows were tested in the morning, whilst all the milking cows were tested as they exited the milking parlour following afternoon milking. By doing this we reduced the stress, keeping the animals routine as normal as possible.

It was my job to record the skin thickness of each bovine, given to me by our vet, before he injected the two sites on each animal’s neck. The cattle were very calm, obviously by now well used to the test routine.

Then on Friday we all held our breath as the cattle were gathered once again, so the test results could be noted. This involved measuring any lumps that may have appeared on the test sites. At 5pm the last cow went through the crush and our vet was able to confirm that on this occasion the herd was clear. What a relief!

After two clear tests we can now sell our dairy herd, as we had planned. So we have some interesting times ahead, as we stop milking and make new plans for the future.

The family have been milking cows here since 1957, so big changes are ahead.

During the week David, our nutritionist, took some grass silage samples for analysis, as we had reached this year’s second cut on the silage face. This silage was found to have a higher dry matter and lower protein.

The cow’s diet has been altered accordingly, so we have changed the proportions of maize and grass silage being fed as well as upping the concentrate a little.

Kevin and Melissa have continued to check all their sheep every day, also sorting and moving wethers (castrated ram lambs).

Some of these have been moved onto the forage rape as they have finished grazing the new grass ley.

Others are in a barn being fed a ration of haylage and lamb concentrate pencils, that will help finish them for market.

On the first day of the week Melissa and I held a Pony Club Achievement Badge rally here on Manor Farm. This rally took the form of an unmounted farm walk to obtain the farming and trees achievement badges.

It was a rather dull and windy afternoon, but all the children enjoyed seeing and learning about the animals on our farm.

We also told them about the crops we are growing as we made our way across the fields.

En route we looked at the variety of trees on and bordering the farm, collecting leaves and fruits on our way. We ended the walk back in a barn where we gave the children some refreshments before they went home.