On my walks around Manor Farm I have spotted a few butterflies, mostly orange tips, a true sign of spring being one of the first butterflies to emerge which has not over-wintered as an adult.

The males are easy to identify with bright orange tips to their white wings,but the females are often mistaken for other varieties as they lack the orange colouration. Blackthorn blossom has been spectacular, decorating the hedgerows with a blanket of white flowers and not forgetting the bluebells now well out along hedgerows and in woodland.

We also have an abundance of skylarks, hovering above fields making their familiar sound. They build grassy nests on the ground in pasture or cropped fields.

Jenny and Ian have continued to repair and replace worn fencing around fields identified in our Countryside Stewardship Agreement ,with contractors employed to do some of the work. While on the subject of fencing Kevin has been picking up lengths of sheep fencing around paddocks grazed earlier.

All the pregnant ewes in the late lambing flock have now given birth and most of them are out on pasture. The small nursery of lambs are still being bottle fed and once weaned will probably stay in their group in a field near the farm buildings.

One of the ewes that recently gave birth lost all its wool due to the stress caused by an infection it developed after giving birth. Ian suggested using one of our calf rugs to keep it warm . The ewe is now cosy and warm in her rug and her lamb is quite used to seeing its mother dressed this way. The time also arrived for the older of the recently born lambs to be vaccinated to help protect them from pasteurellosis ,which can cause high mortality. The ewes that lambed back in January, now out in the fields without their weaned lambs, were gathered and penned in the fields they are occupying to have their " MOT " and treatment to protect them from flystrike.

The MOT, as Kevin calls it , is to check each ewe thoroughly to make sure it is in the best of health. For example, if on close inspection a ewe needs its hooves trimming, this will be done. Also any lame sheep will receive treatment.

The flystrike treatment will help prevent blowflies laying their eggs in any patches of mucky wool or even between the two parts of their hooves. The maggots hatch and chew their way into the sheep's flesh if not discovered quickly. Some of the early born lambs have reached the required weight for sale, with two groups having been collected and a larger group awaiting collection. The prices are still good compared to the same time last year, but are beginning to drop a little.

Kevin has just applied a fungicide and broad- leaved herbicide to his crop of spring barley, with groundsel, charlock and cleavers being some of the dominant weeds . Weeds seem to be able to grow whatever the conditions!

He has also managed to plant his peas .The variety is the same as last year , Daytona is the leading "blue pea " for quality and colour, with good disease resistance. Premiums can be maximised for this variety as it can go into human and pet food. After planting the ground was rolled to try and get better contact between the pea seeds and soil .

Unfortunately during the week we have had a fly-tipping incident, with a fridge freezer left in one of our gateways. It is rather a shame rubbish of any sort has to spoil our countryside .