Another dark and dismal week, with a staggering 191mm (about eight inches ) of rainfall in the first month of the new year.

Listening to the forecast indicates there is still more to come. The line on our barograph has just started to rise a little,but the pressure is rising from very low.

On Saturday, Richard was in the milking parlour once again. After breakfast he had to meet Ian and David in the barn housing the weaned heifer calves.

The reason for this was that one or two of these calves had been heard coughing, so it had been treated with an antibiotic. It soon became obvious that the problem was getting worse,so our vet was consulted and advised us to treat them all.

It seems unbelievable that in a big airy barn animals succumb to pneumonia, but certain weather features, such as warm, damp, still conditions will affect air movement, leaving stale air in the building. After giving all the calves the medicine, Richard, Ian and David increased the ground space area the calves were occupying in the barn, to give the calves more room.

During the week we had a routine visit from our vet to do some more pregnancy diagnoses. He also did some post natal checks on several cows that were not coming into season. Herd fertility is very important,so it is essential that we pay a great deal of attention to things that may affect it.

Midweek, Richard walked across some of the fields situated on the edges of Manor Farm. The soil in the field that was too wet to plant with winter wheat last autumn is being broken down nicely by the weather but it is even wetter than before.

Usually there is one field badly damaged by rabbits, although it seems to have been spared so far.

The slurry store is causing us concern at the moment. The excessive rainfall means that the level of slurry is getting dangerously near the top. Getting it on to the fields will not be easy, so we have made arrangements with a contractor to reduce the level using machinery that will minimise damage to the ground where it will be spread.

We also think we have another water leak, this time from a main that crosses one of our grass fields. The water board will not believe us at the moment, but we are all convinced that is what it is.

The Land Rover has not been starting well for a while, so it was taken to an engineer, who fitted a new starter motor.

On Stowell Farm the family have been very busy doing work with the sheep. At the beginning of the week, all the pregnant ewes were crutched. In this process, the wool is clipped away from around the rear end of each sheep. This keeps them a great deal cleaner up to and through the lambing period, also making it easier to see when the sheep are about to give birth and spot if any need some help.

After the ewes were crutched, a back breaking job done by Kevins, they were given a vaccination to prevent them getting foot rot.

The vaccination also acts as a fairly effective treatment if they have the disease. The sheep were then put through a foot bath .

Foot rot is a very painful, contagious condition caused mainly by the interaction of two anaerobic bacteria. The organisms common in the environment will gain entry to the feet via cuts or cracks,which will then develop into the condition. Later in the week 240 of the ewes were re-scanned, as the results of the first scan were not clear. A small flock, out in a field when the first scan was done, was also checked.

Finally we all helped, (ie seven people, four sheep dogs, three vehicles) move the flock of ewe lambs to a fresh field of stubble turnips.

While we were doing this the rain was lashing down and the wind blowing – an altogether soaking experience, successfully accomplished.