FORTUNATELY the weather over the Christmas and New Year festivities did not hamper the routine work done on Manor Farm. It has been rather unseasonal, with temperatures often near or in double figures, but this has kept water flowing and the ground mainly free of ice.

It has been a strange Christmas, with no cows to be milked and we are still coming to terms with having to buy milk. The cubicle barn normally occupied by the milking cows was eerily quiet for a few days, but was soon ready for our Aberdeen Angus steers (castrated male bovines) and heifers to occupy. They have settled into their new surroundings very well, looking quite at home. Every day we feed these animals a ration of grass silage, maize silage and a balancer concentrate to ensure they have all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals they need for maintenance and growth. At the same time the barn is cleaned and fresh bedding spread, keeping the cattle clean and comfortable.

We still have all the Freisian/Holstein heifer calves born last autumn, which were also moved into a large yarded area in the same barn as the Anguses from our Leaze Farm set of farm buildings. At least now the dairy barn has about 80 cattle residing in it, although with the majority totally black in colour, they tend to be almost invisible on the dull days we have experienced recently. I almost forgot that we still have our Aberdeen Angus bull.

Some of our dairy heifer calves have recently developed an eye infection.These bacterial infections can be caused by a number of things, including flies, dust or silage and the condition can be very painful and is easily spread from one animal to another. The infections are spotted when obvious tear-staining is seen on the animal's face, so at this point it is essential to treat the infected eyes with an antibiotic cream. If left untreated, the eyes will develop very painful ulcers and will cause temporary or permanent blindness.The most common bacteria found in eye infections of cattle is Moxarella bovis. This bacteria produces a condition known as Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivtis, commonly called New Forest Eye.

There has been a great deal of sheep work to do over the Christmas period. Kevin, with help from Francis, Melissa and daughters Natasha and Annabel, and also sheepdogs Smudge, Fly and sometimes Whisper have been busy sorting and moving the sheep, most of which are now resident in Leaze Farm barns.

All the replacement ewe lambs are now grazing cattle fields on Manor Farm, whilst a small flock of 160 pregnant ewes were moved to fresh pasture with access to a field of forage rape.

All the pregnant ewes have been gathered from Corsham Park and transported back to Leaze Farm barns in preparation for lambing, which begins on March 1.

They are being fed a ration of grass and maize silage and bedded on straw. The straw is in the form of large round bales, which are mechanically lifted and placed at one end of the barns housing the ewes, before being manually rolled across the floor like a carpet.

Whilst granddaughters Natasha and Annabel have been on their Christmas holiday from school, they have been taking one of their pet sheep called Bella for a walk around the farm on a halter. Bella is two years old and hopefully pregnant with her first lamb. She loves human company and is very happy to be made a fuss of and taken for a walk, enjoying the attention she is given.

I hope that you you spent a very Happy Christmas and wish everyone all the very best for the New Year.