OVER the last week the weather has followed much the same pattern as before. It has been relatively mild, although the frequent covering of cloud, cool breezes and some drizzle have made it feel rather chilly at times. A noticeable dip in temperature towards the end of the week was accompanied by glorious sunshine, but this was followed by a dull, windy day with a particularly wintery feel.

A number of clearing up, repairs and maintenance jobs have been done on Manor Farm over the past week. Richard has spent time repairing some broken indicator lights on farm machines that will be attached to tractors when field work begins. He then had to take our farm vehicle into town to have two new tyres fitted, which after inspection turned out be four!

Ian has mended a leak in a water trough in the cubicle barn that used to be occupied by the dairy cows, but now houses our Aberdeen Angus x beef cattle. He has also been finishing some hedge-cutting, which needed completing before March 1, after which time hedges cannot be trimmed until August 31, except for safety reasons or a derogation is obtained from DEFRA.

Hedge-trimming also falls under the cross compliance section of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and farmers breaching this will incur large deductions on their single farm payment. Kevin has also spent a very long day on Chiverlins Farm trimming some overgrown hedges still left to do. Richard has also been helping Marcus and Francis pick up the remains of the sheep fencing, still around some of the grass fields recently grazed by sheep.

As you may remember, several of our dairy heifer calves have had eye infections. Fortunately we have not had any new cases in this group of cattle for some time, but at the end of the week Raleigh, our Aberdeen Angus bull, was found to have developed early symptoms, a very runny eye. At the moment he is residing in a large bull pen next to the calves. This meant that he could be treated with an injection of antibiotic very easily. Raleigh was given some food and, having been lured into a front corner of the pen, Ian was able to lower a barrier behind him from outside of the pen, so that he was then safely restrained and could be given his injection.

On my walks around Manor Farm I have noticed all our fields of grass, barley and wheat look green and well. Recently Ian has sprayed some areas of grass with a herbicide to try and control an abundance of chickweed, which was able to become well established following the dry summer. Chickweed is one the most common annual weeds on cultivated or bare ground in the UK. It is a familiar sight in gardens, producing vast amounts of seed all year round, which means it can be a real nuisance. It is a low spreading plant with small, white star-shaped flowers and all parts of the plant are edible.

Kevin is still selling finished lambs, although a market could not be found for the lighter weight ones, probably because of trading uncertainties. These are now booked in for next week, so hopefully collection will not be delayed again. A flock of 200 ewe lambs on Manor Farm was moved to fresh pasture at the end of the week. Sheepdog Smudge helped to round them up before we all took up our positions on a road crossing which led them down a track to some of our barns.

Here the ewe lambs were penned so that Kevin and Francis could treat seven with foot problems, before Smudge helped take them to the fresh field. Having spotted a lame one, Kevin used his shepherd's crook to catch it. Having never seen a crook used before, I was very impressed how easily Kevin was able to restrain each animal, causing it minimal stress. The infected feet were trimmed, sprayed with gentian violet (an antiseptic) and each affected animal given an injection of antibiotic. The number of each animal treated was recorded and spot of red marker spray put on its head for easy identification.