ON the whole it has been a rather damp, dull week, with some gale force winds; a rise in temperature and a total of 36mm rainfall; of which 23mm fell mid-week, within the space of half an hour.

The first job done in the last week was to dis-bud (remove the horn buds) from all our young Freisian/Holstein heifer calves. Most cattle breeds will grow horns, although some breeds, such as the Aberdeen Angus, are naturally without horns due to selective breeding. Before removing the horn buds the calves are given a local anaesthetic to numb the area at the site of the bud. The process is much like the removal of a small tooth and none of the calves showed any sign of discomfort during or following the procedure. The reason calves are dis-budded is to prevent them injuring each other; to prevent handlers being hurt; also so that the cattle cannot become caught up in fences, hedges, feed mangers or handling equipment.

There has also been sheep work to do. This year's ewe lambs (female lambs born in the spring) needed to be moved to fresh pasture. They were moved onto a neighbouring farm where some of the pasture needed to be grazed, to enable better new growth next spring. Sheep are very good grazers as they nibble the grass down, producing a short sward, whilst at the same time adding valuable nutrients to the soil in the form of urine and faeces. At this time of year, when the ground can soon become wet, sheep are far less likely to damage the soil structure than other larger animals. Before the ewe lambs were transported they were gathered and penned with the help of the collies. They were then wormed and vaccinated to protect them against foot rot. Foot rot is caused by a bacteria, which penetrates through damaged skin after the onset of scald (interdigital dermatitis).

Kevin has recently been sorting wethers (castrated ram lambs) for sale. Last week a selected group of 59 were collected and next week another 90 will be leaving the farm. It is hoped that it will not be long before all the wethers are sold, as the pregnant ewes will soon be coming into the barns to prepare them for lambing next March.

Recently some members of Chippenham Young Farmers' Club were invited to the Wiltshire County Stock Judging competition, held on two Dauntsey farms. On Olive Mead Farm, belonging to Mr George Candy, the competitors judged sheep, beef cattle and pigs.

On Union Farm, belonging to the Kidners, they judged dairy cattle. There were three age groups: junior, intermediate and senior, with the following Chippenham members being placed first to third in the four classes, Annabel Candy, Ellie Elvis, Katie Evans, Robert Gooding and Tom Pullen. There was also a fence erecting competition for a team of senior members, which involved putting up a post and wire fence. The Chippenham team were third. Well done to all those who competed!

During the week Richard and I attended the AGM and annual supper of the Marlborough Downs Space for Nature (MDSN). This is a landscape scale conservation project led by farmers and friends working together on the Marlborough Downs.

We were given an update on the progress of the project before enjoying supper together in St Peter's Church, Marlborough. An exciting campaign being led by Dr Gemma Batten, project manager of the MDSN, is the Bee Roadzz campaign. This is a campaign where farmers and friends of the MDSN have teamed up with Transition Marlborough to create joined up pollinator-friendly forage and habitat to support bees and help re-establish their populations. Creating corridors of bee-friendly spring flowering bulbs linking towns and villages is good for all pollinators. On October 21/22 6,000 bulbs were planted by 13 different community groups.