Welcoming new life to Manor Farm

This Is Wiltshire: Matt helps to unite lambs with their mothers Matt helps to unite lambs with their mothers

Another warm, sunny weekend to start the week deteriorated into a mixture of dull, damp and chilly weather once again.

March came in “like a lamb” but did not go out “like a lion”, just dull and cloudy all day.

Fortunately, the beautiful white flowers on the magnolia tree in our garden have not yet been damaged by frost, which usually happens. During the week I made a large apple tart from bramley apple windfalls, still lying in the grass under the tree.

Lambing on Stowell Farm has slowed down recently,but there are still about 400 ewes left to give birth. One morning early in the week I went to see how things were progressing.

Melissa and Matt were loading some ewes and lambs into a trailer before transporting them to pasture at Bowood. All the lambs were put into a separate compartment at the front end of the trailer, then their mothers were loaded onto the two decks behind them.

We then set off to Bowood, where the ewes and lambs were released into the fields. The ewes with twins were unloaded with their lambs into the first field, then ewes with single lambs into another field. Each time Matt and Melissa had to make sure that each ewe was united with her lambs,with a little help from Wisper, Melissa’s collie. I was amazed how gentle Wisper was when helping to gather the straying lambs.

Once turned out into the fields, Kevin’s father Francis will be constantly checking that all is well. I must once again just remind anyone walking a dog, especially at this time of year, to keep it under proper control as, unfortunately, dog attacks on farm animals are increasing.

Here on Manor Farm, two of the last few pregnant cows gave birth over the weekend. One of the two cows seemed to be in some difficulty having her calf, so Ian had to examine her to find out what was wrong.

Fortunately the problem was quickly solved – the calf’s head was being presented facing backwards, so all Ian had to do was to bring it forward between the two front legs. Once this had been done the calf was soon born, very quickly standing up and drinking milk from its mother.

The older heifers, turned out to pasture the other week, were moved to a larger field of grass where they will have enough to last for a while. We had to move them along the road to reach the field so we called on all available family members, also David and Ruth, as in spring animals can become quite excited.

Field work has gathered pace once again. Ian has finished spraying a fungicide and manganese on the wheat and barley, while Richard rolled one field of wheat, which had poor germination in some parts. The rolling will help the roots come into better contact with the soil,as well as encourage the plants to put up more shoots.

Mid-week, one field still to be planted was cultivated by Ian to try to produce a seed-bed. This proved to be difficult, but eventually it was decided that Richard could hitch the drill onto the tractor and plant the spring barley seed. Ian followed close behind with the ring rolls ,to help firm the seed bed before the weather became unfavourable once again.

At the end of the week the young heifer calves were given their second vaccination to protect them against lung worm, when they are turned out to grass for the first time. Weather permitting, these calves will be let out of the barn in two weeks time. Millie, the last cow to calve before next autumn, has recently given birth to an Aberdeen Angus heifer calf .

One sunny afternoon, while walking to see how Richard was getting on drilling the spring barley, the scent coming from banks of primroses and violets was wonderful. It was also great to see so many butterflies, including a large number of yellow brimstones.

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