Red sky not morning delight as rain remains firmly in the air

This Is Wiltshire: A beautiful sunrise over Manor Farm but lambs have not put on weight due to the wet weather A beautiful sunrise over Manor Farm but lambs have not put on weight due to the wet weather

The wet weather continues with another two inches of rain, mild temperatures, but a slight frost one clear morning mid-week, writes DENISE PLUMMER.

It is, however, surprising that most of our crops look well, probably due to the fact that, although the ground has become saturated, it has not been particularly cold.

At the moment, the winter barley looks to be free of weeds and disease and has formed a fairly thick crop about four to six inches high.

The winter wheat has made variable growth, due to the late planting of some of the fields. Most looks to have germinated quite well, with one field that became too wet to be sown with spring barley in a few months time.

The winter rape planted by a neighbour has grown well and Kevin has said the lucerne on Stowell Farm has developed into a good crop.

All our grass, including the new leys, have been grazed by Stowell Farm sheep. The sheep were all removed from our fields last weekend. The ground was very wet and they were due to be moved as they had just about finished grazing the sward down to a length that was ideal to encourage the growth of new spring grass.

These ewe lambs, which are the year-old replacements, will join the main flock later in the year, giving birth to their first lambs in the spring of 2015. They have been taken back to Stowell Farm where they are now grazing stubble turnips.

Kevin went through the lambs being finished for meat but was unable to find any that would make the grade. This is due to the very wet weather we have had the past month, during which these lambs have only maintained their body weight.

Another job has been scanning the main flock, due to start lambing in early March.

It took two days and the sheep, already in barns, were put through a race into a crush where each one was restrained and scanned.

Bob, the scanner, would then be able to see how many lambs each sheep was carrying.

The scanning per centage is about 175, which is down on last year, but there are many shearlings (young sheep due to have their first lambs) in the flock.

It is preferable for sheep not to be carrying too many multiples – ie, triplets or more. Single and twin lambs born will be stronger, giving them a better start in life.

Ruth has returned from her holiday, so is back milking the cows.

And during the week Richard drove a tractor and trailer to Calne to pick up some bulk concentrate feed for our weaned heifer calves, now about 12 weeks old.

This saved us a bagging and transport cost.

We also had some samples from our maize and grass silage clamps analysed again, so we can more accurately balance the rations for all the different groups of cattle.

Kevin had some samples analysed from the Stowell Farm maize and grass silage clamps. This silage is fed to the main flock ewes in the barns.

The analyses were quite good but, like us, Kevin and Mark need to know the nutritive value of their silage in order to feed the best diet.

On examining the results they decided next year’s silage could be improved by cutting the grass a little earlier in the year.

You may remember our grandchildren stayed with us for a few days during the Christmas holiday. Before they went home our grandson Dominic, with just a little help from Granny, made Melissa a Yule log for her birthday. He made a superb chocolate Swiss roll, which I covered with melted chocolate. Delicious!

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