AT the beginning of the week clear skies gave us cold nights and chilly mornings, but following a foggy start, the sun soon burnt its way through the mist to give us glorious sunshine right through the day. Unfortunately, towards the end of the week, the clouds began to roll in and we did get a light shower. Nevertheless, it has been unseasonably warm and delightful.

The weather has really helped lambing on Manor Farm, which is now in full swing. Laurence, the night lamber, has arrived and every one is very busy. All the barns have again been cleaned out and bedded up with fresh straw and a large number of individual hurdle pens have been made up in other sheds for ewes with their newborn lambs to occupy for a few days.

This penning is done for several reasons, one being to allow a strong mother/offspring bond to develop; another is to make it easy to see if the lambs are feeding properly and also to make sure the ewes are eating and drinking properly, with no signs of illness such as mastitis. It is essential when the lambs are born that they have a good feed of colostrum, which is the first milk mammals produce after birth. Colostrum is a 'super food' providing energy and a high level of nutrients as well as containing high levels of antibodies against a number of infectious agents. If a ewe is unwilling for her newborn lamb(s) to suckle, she can be milked by hand and the colostrum fed using a bottle.

So far on Manor Farm one set of quads has been born, all of which survived and that two have been successfully fostered by a ewe which gave birth to a stillborn lamb. Fostering lambs is not easy, as often a ewe will not accept another ewe's lamb, but if possible it is the best outcome, as lambs suckling from ewes usually thrive better than those that have to be kept on bottles. Once sure that the newborn lambs and their mothers have bonded properly and are well, they are turned out onto grass. During the week the first 17 ewes and lambs were turned out into a field next to the buildings and enjoyed the warm sunshine. On spring grass the ewes will produce plenty of nutritious milk, which will enable the lambs to flourish.

You may remember that Richard and I recently attended the annual NFU Conference, which is held in the ICC, Birmingham. This year it was entitled 'Our Food,Our Future', with many high-profile national and international speakers giving their presentations and answering questions over the two days.

It is always great to catch up with many friends from all over the UK, at this year's truly thought-provoking and interactive event.The opening address was given by our president, Wiltshire farmer Minette Batters who then chaired a political session with The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs.

In the sessions that followed we were informed about current consumer habits and about the foods they are likely to buy. Apart from price, wellness features high on consumers' shopping lists; as does more natural and less processed; meal replacement bars and drinks and also easy-to- prepare meals. Provenance, especially with a story to tell, transparency, traceability and safety are also important factors for consumers. Food waste from field to fork accounts for nearly 50 per cent of food grown, partly driven in this country by the fact we only spend just over eight per cent of our income on food, meaning food is of little value.

This week I must finish with a plea to all dog-walkers. Please keep dogs on leads when walking near sheep and their newborn lambs. I am also making a plea to families enjoying the countryside with young children. It is tempting to run up to see the lambs, but they soon become frightened and then become separated from their mothers. Lambs will often be left lying down while the ewes go off to feed and will soon return to where they left them.