A DULL, cloudy, damp start to the week soon gave way to a fall in temperature. This was accompanied by some cold, frosty mornings and a real chilly feel during the days that followed. The air pressure shown on our barograph began to fall quite noticeably near the end of the week, signalling that the weather forecast of predicted snowfall was probably on its way. As air pressure continued to fall and the temperature rose, just a little, the snow began to fall. Unusually, Wiltshire was one of the southern counties where continual snowfall for about 16 hours soon accumulated, with about 12cm falling on Manor Farm. Then the temperature began to fall as air pressure started to rise, getting down to at least -5.2C. Our grandchildren have enjoyed tobogganing and I have seen many great looking snowmen dotted around the village.

On the farm, however, snow and ice can cause problems, just making a day's work that much harder. A long hosepipe used to fill some of the sheep drinking troughs not connected to the mains froze solid, so the process of getting water for the ewes became much more of a chore. Then there was the swirling snow, some of which managed to get through every nook and cranny into all the barns housing livestock, so more bedding had to be used.

Just walking around the buildings was hazardous as a thick layer of ice formed where tractors bringing in food and water had been moving around over the snow. The ewe lambs in a field still have to be checked every day, but with a thick layer of snow covering the ground Melissa had to careful that she did not cause them to panic whilst casting her eyes over them. In our cubicle barn the snow has made our usually very quiet Angus yearlings a little bit flighty, so Ian and Richard have been taking care not to cause them further anxiety.

Another irritation was that a lorry was not able to collect a load of straw we have sold. The lorry driver phoned to say it was very foggy where he was and that after collection the straw had to be delivered to a farmer in Wales. He thought this may not be a very good idea with weather conditions as they were.

One day during the week I met Ian at the buildings as he was just about to give some milk to the last three Freisian/Holstein heifer calves born before our dairy herd was sold. These young calves are being fed milk made from reconstituted milk powder until they are eight to 10 weeks old. Although they are ready to be weaned, Ian told me he wanted to use up the remaining milk powder, so that it would not be wasted.

Kevin is pleased to say that all his wethers (castrated ram lambs) and remaining cull ewes were fit for sale, so after contacting his agent they were collected very early one morning mid-week.

Among the pregnant ewes is a very distinctive one, which has been named Annabelle. She is four years old with a face which is half black and half white, giving birth for the first time when she was two years old. In her first pregnancy she gave birth to triplets, none of which survived. Her second pregnancy again produced triplets, all of which survived and this time she is carrying twins, the preferred option. Like all the other ewes in the flock, Annabelle is registered with the Llyen Sheep Society, but in order to be a recognised show animal a pedigree Llyen must have no more than a 50 pence area of black wool on its body.

Recently members of Chippenham Young Farmers' Club have taken part in a county public speaking competition. Teams were entered in several classes with the junior reading team gaining first place, another team third in Member of the Year and a second in the public speaking class. The reading team will now go forward to the South West competition, which will be held on March 9 in Weymouth.