Christmas has come and gone but it has been an enjoyable and happy time, writes DENISE PLUMMER.

The New Year has arrived with great expectations that the weather may become just a little better after the high winds and torrential rain of the past few weeks, but no.

Richard and I have been checking the sheep grazing here on Manor Farm every day since just before Christmas Day.

During the first week, the walks through the three flocks were very pleasant following the two inches of rain that fell on the Monday.

Although the fields were saturated, with large pools of water lying on the surface in places, the sheep seemed quite happy.

The only problems we encountered were a sheep that had become trapped in some brambles next to a water trough and one that had managed to get on the wrong side of the electric fence.

Richard soon managed to cut through the brambles and free the immobilised animal, but we found it a little more difficult persuading the escapee to return to her friends.

Our Angus bull and a heifer, not yet due to calve, were brought in under cover on Christmas morning. This was done as Richard had finished artificially inseminating the heifer replacements for the dairy herd with sexed semen, to ensure we produce sufficient numbers of heifer calves next year.

Then our bull is put with the heifers to make sure any heifer that has not held to artificial insemination will be detected by the bull and become pregnant.

Getting the bull and his companion to come into the barn was not so easy, as the field had plenty of grass and they were rather enjoying a spell of bright sunshine.

However, once he realised he was going to join a barn full of young heifers he became much more cooperative.

On Christmas Day we had two births, an Angus heifer and an Angus bull. After one of the cows gave birth she was unable to stand due to a mineral imbalance.

The vet was called and gave her an injection of calcium and phosphorous to help her system cope with the sudden demand after calving. It was not long before she was able to stand and care for her calf.

Over the weekend after Christmas an engineer was called to sort out some problems in the milking parlour.

One of the two pumps on the volume wash, used to clean the parlour, had to be replaced as did a motor on one of the feeders which had stopped working.

Milking was further interrupted by the occasional power cut, so the generator had to be started a few times.

Natalie and Charlotte have been helping Richard do the milking as Ruth was on holiday and Ian had a fall from a bicycle, which gave him a black eye and an injury to one hand.

Fortunately he is now well on the mend, but still not able to do some of the jobs. David and Matt, our two young employees, have also been a great help over this time.

New Year’s Eve arrived with me staying at Melissa’s home to look after all the family pets. Richard stayed here as he was having to do the milking.

The weather was ghastly – on New Year’s Day we had another inch of rain.

Checking sheep in stormy conditions has been very unpleasant, with my washing machine working overtime, during the past week.

The highlight of the week has been the arrival of our two grandchildren from Devon for a few days’ holiday.

Our four grandchildren have been spending time here and at Stowell Farm.

The three girls wanted to tell you what they have been doing to help on the farms.

Bethany said: “My pet heifer, Midnight, calved over Christmas and I have been helping Dad do the milking and Mum feed the calves.”

Natasha said: “I have been helping my Dad with the sheep.”

And Annabel said: “I helped move sheep on a really wet and windy day, then had a hot chocolate drink to warm me up.”