WHAT a spring-like week! A dull start gave way to days filled with plenty of warm sunshine. The days started on the chilly side with frost and or fog, but it really felt that we needed to be out enjoying 'spring' while it lasts.The early flowers in our garden, particularly snowdrops and crocuses, have opened up and enjoyed the warm rays of the sun. A small patch of flowering heather has also attracted a number of bees, large bumble bees and smaller honey bees.

The now heavily pregnant ewes on Manor Farm are well settled in the lambing barns, munching into their nutritionally well balanced diet, preparing themselves for motherhood.

Recently Kevin and Melissa received an order of lambing equipment. This order was made up of items such as gloves, disinfectants, colour markers, bottles, teats and biodegradable lamb jackets. Hopefully not too many bottles and teats will be needed, but there are usually a few lambs that need to be hand-reared for a number of reasons, one being multiple births, as a ewe can only suckle two lambs.

The best outcome is to provide the extra lamb(s) with a foster mother, but this cannot always be done. The protective biodegradable jackets will be used on the newborn lambs if the weather becomes unfavourable at lambing, as once the ewes and their lambs have bonded they will be taken to Corsham Park. This is so the ewes can graze the new spring grass and produce plenty of nutritious milk for their offspring. If the weather becomes cold and wet at turnout the jackets will be put to good use.

Lambing is due to begin on the 22nd of this month, with a small group of 100 ewes. These ewes make up a nucleus flock of high genetic animals used to introduce high performance progeny into the main flock. They were mated to two high genetic bought-in rams from the Llyen Gold Group. The Llyen Gold Group is a Llyen Sheep Society performance recording scheme which was developed in 2015. The Breed Development Committee put a scheme together with the objective for breeders to identify their most productive ewes, so enabling them to make a better decision on which ewes to keep for breeding. The long-term goal is to increase the productivity of the flock.

However, one of Natasha and Annabel 's pet sheep, named Buttercup, gave birth to her single lamb during the week. This group of six pet sheep include sheep from four generations, including a grandmother through to her newborn grandson, and also two sisters. Granny (Palini) is now 10 years old, quite a good age for a sheep, as their average lifespan is 10 to 12 years.

A sheep can be aged by looking at its teeth, which usually spread, break and then fall out after they are five years old. Sheep without teeth are known as gummers. Fortunately Granny still has all her teeth. Palini will soon be a great grandmother as Buttercup's daughter Daisy is due to give birth to her baby very soon.

During the weekend, Ian and Jenny's daughter Charlotte was home. Charlotte is a vet and was readily employed to disbud our three youngest Friesian/Holstein heifer calves. Prior to the removal of each horn bud a local anaesthetic is applied to the site. The horn bud is then quickly and painlessly removed, much like having a small tooth taken out. Most bovines have this done to prevent them growing horns, which may cause injury to other cattle or stockmen on the farm.