A BRIGHT start to the week, developed into a generally cloudy, murky and damp week. Towards the end of the week, a mid-morning snowstorm was quite unwelcome, especially as we were all outside doing sheep work. The following morning saw the temperature plummet to -0.8 C, with a sharp frost, but the day was bright and sunny.

The mid-week snowstorm prompted us to bring more of our cows into the barns. It seemed that winter had arrived. All the dry cows (those cows on their two months' annual holiday) and the stale milkers (those cows in late lactation not quite ready to be dried off for their holiday) are now under cover. The only cattle in a field are the yearlings, a mixture of Freisian/Holstein heifers and Aberdeen Angus Xs, almost 80 in total.

The young stock outside are being fed grass silage and a balancer concentrate every day, as any grass still in the field has very little nutrient value. Calves are still being born but not so frequently as in the early autumn and most of our dairy heifer calves have now been weaned.

Our dairy herd, now up for sale, has already attracted some interest, so hopefully all the cows will find good homes before the sale day. It will then be very strange to have to buy milk as most of the family, including Richard and Ian's father Leslie, have always had a ready supply of on-farm milk and I will really miss the taste of our own milk. I love all the old-fashioned puddings, such as bread and butter pudding, queen of puddings and rice pudding, to name just a few with milk as the main ingredient. If offered custard, cream or ice-cream with a pudding in a restaurant, I usually reply "is it possible to have all three", as this mixture of milk products tastes really delicious.

As the ground is still quite dry our student Harry was given the task of mucking out the loose yard area in the cubicle barn, taking the manure to a storage heap in one of our fields from where it will be spread before the field is cultivated and planted next spring.

Sheep work has been keeping Kevin, Melissa and Francis very busy over the last week, with help from Richard and occasionally me. There is always daily checking of all the groups scattered around Manor Farm and Corsham Park, also giving some extra forage and concentrates, and of course making sure they all have water. However, sorting wethers (castrated ram lambs) for sale and moving some of the groups onto fresh pasture has been quite time consuming, also keeping the collies busy.

A group of 15 wethers selected the week before and booked to leave the farm mid-week were gathered and weighed. Their weights varied from 41 kilos to almost 60 kilos, but they were all graded as ready for market. Kevin and Melissa are waiting for the carcass weights as each wether was identified by its own electronic identification tag situated on its ear, so they can see which sheep had the best percentage of meat.

Recently the North Wiltshire and Swindon NFU groups have held their annual open meetings, with topical presentations given by speakers from NFU regional and headquarters staff. It is at these annual meetings that farmer members are elected onto regional commodity boards to represent their county.

A Wiltshire county open meeting has also been held, this year celebrating its centenary. In 1918 there were eight branches active in Wiltshire, with NFU Wiltshire founded on March 9 in that year.

In 1918 the NFU represented 1,929 farming members in Wiltshire. Today there are five Wiltshire branches, which represent 800 farming members. We are thrilled that in this our centenary year, our current president is Wiltshire farmer Minette Batters, who attended and spoke at our Wiltshire annual open meeting.

Another speaker at the event was Keith Norman, who gave us an interesting talk on the advances being made in drone technology, and also the progress being made in the technical development of machines able to use the information and apply it in a practical way on the ground.