THIS will be my last article until the New Year is underway and I cannot believe another year has passed so quickly, or so it seems.

Over the last week the temperature fell day by day until the last day when we awoke to a hard frost, with a temperature below zero. Other than that the days have been dry with a mixture of cloud and sunshine.

Mid-week granddaughter Annabel Candy, Rory Ferguson and Rob Gooding, members of Chippenham Young Farmers, represented Wiltshire at the Inter County Stock Judging competition, which was held at Cirencester Market and organised by Gloucestershire Young Farmers. At this event the candidates had to judge beef animals, pigs and sheep and I am pleased to say that the Chippenham team were placed first overall.

Kevin has been busy doing sheep work with Francis, Marcus and the collies. More sheep fencing has been removed from fields grazed earlier by the sheep; the ewe lambs have been moved to fresh pasture and more pregnant ewes have been brought back to Manor Farm. There are now 500 ewes grazing pasture and stubble rape here on our farm, which is almost half the flock that will give birth to their lambs here next March. During the week a lorry picked up 90 more of Kevin's finished wethers (castrated ram lambs), which went to ABP Food Group. This group supplies quality beef and lamb across the country. Another group of lambs were sorted for sale next week and some concentrate balancer picked up from a local feed merchant.

Some more of our dairy cattle have been sold. At the beginning of the week 22 heifers (young females) born in the autumn of 2017 were collected and another 20 of our milking cows will be leaving the farm tomorrow. It is very sad that the the remaining 20 cows will have to be sold through market rather than moving straight from here to a dairy farm, because although we are not now on a TB restriction, some prospective buyers have not been allowed to have a licence to move cows from our unrestricted holding onto their restricted one, in order that their businesses remain viable. The reasons have not always been clear, but TB restrictions have been a problem for us since our annual test at the beginning of the year and now seem to be preventing the last 20 cows being sold as a group to a local farmer.

Once all the milking cows have left the farm on December 18, it will be the first time in my life that I will not be living on a family dairy farm. I can remember cows being milked by hand and then by milking machines, which collected the milk into individual closed buckets. Now the milk flows straight from the cow into a pipeline that transports the milk to a plate cooler, which cools it straight down to 4C, before it enters a refrigerated holding tank.We will miss the cows, which all have their own personalities, and hope they soon settle into their new homes.

I have recently been working at Roves Farm Visitor Centre as one of Santa's elves! Myself and a colleague are responsible for the Christmas crafts section where we have a selection of easy to assemble cards and decorations. This also involves the use of lots of glue and glitter, so you can imagine the mess!

Now it just remains for me to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.