The last week has passed with no rain and plenty of hot sunshine . Often there has been a cooling breeze but this also has the effect of drying the parched ground even more. It looks as if May is going to be a dry month, with only a few spots of rain falling on Manor Farm .

All our winter barley and wheat are well in ear and as I said last week, desperately need a drink. Warm, gentle, overnight rain would be appreciated, but getting what you want is quite a different story. The recently planted forage rape crop is also looking a little stressed, with the leaves showing a yellowish tint.

However the weather is just right for hay- making, with Ian deciding that a small acreage of clover was ready to cut and hopefully will grow again when the rain arrives. The crop was cut a few days ago and has been spread, which will help it to dry. When the clover is ready to bale Kevin is going to use his baler which produces large round bales, so he has been servicing it ready for use. He has also had to repair his mower after the motor fell out !

Ian is still putting our fences in order so that we can safely move our Angus cattle to grazing fields around the farm.

Moving them has become more frequent as grass growth is also suffering from the present drought, but hopefully we have enough acres of grass to avoid having to give the animals any extra feed for a

Kevin and his family are now feeling a little happier as shearing has begun. A sheep is typically shorn once a year for health and hygiene. Wool protects sheep from cold in winter and helps keep them stay cool in summer. But domesticated sheep do not shed their wool naturally so they have to have it shaved off, just as we would have a hair cut.

The wool from a sheep is called a fleece and a skilled shearer will immobilise the sheep and remove the wool very quickly and cleanly with the minimum of stress.

At this time of year the blow flies are about in great numbers , liking nothing better than a mucky patch of wool to lay their eggs in with very distressing consequences for the sheep. So being shorn at this time of year is highly beneficial and produces a natural fibre for making quality clothes, carpets and fire retardant insulation for our homes.

The shearing of the first groups of sheep was completed over two days. These were the yearling rams and ewe lambs which will replace breeding stock in the main flock, also the older breeding rams.

The remaining ewes will be shorn once their lambs have been weaned, which is when they are 12 weeks of age. The weaning of the first group of lambs took place at the end of the week. When they are weaned the lambs are eating enough forage and additional concentrate that they no longer need milk, so are separated from their mothers. The ewes are very pleased to have a rest from their large, demanding offspring and soon settle down to a more peaceful life.

As they are weaned the lambs will be brought into the barns where they will be fed with conserved forage and concentrate. Being in yards will make it easier to weigh them regularly, so those ready for sale can be easily selected for buyers who want a continual supply of high quality lambs.

One night during the last week 10 ewes and their well grown lambs were stolen from one of the fields. Although some people in the area heard a commotion there has been no trace of the sheep or their lambs.