What a glorious day we've had - blue skies, sunshine and above average temperatures. It all helps to bring us a little happiness.
I know it's far too early to get carried away with the idea of Spring, but nobody can take away what we've already had. I have noticed many bees making use of this spell of weather and I feel it brings us all cheer.
On the farm, the pregnant ewes have all been housed in their maternity ward and they seem very content. We had a surprise last week when one of our sheep presented us with a very nice set of twin lambs. The things they'll do when they're afraid of being culled!
Last Saturday we scanned the young ewes that are the replacements into our flock. Very pleasing to see that 84 of the 98 are in lamb, mostly expecting just the one. The remaining 14 ewes will be kept and given a second chance next year.
Besides continuing with the maintenance jobs that get done in winter, today we have been spreading a little fertilizer to encourage growth. Young plants are similar to all young things - feeding them little and often helps them mature into strong and healthy plants. Hopefully we will soon be able to sow some Spring crops, too.
So, the Prime Minister has given us a road map to see us out of the virus situation. It reminds me of a sat nav that tells you you've gone wrong, turn round as soon as possible. I hope that I'm wrong and that we all stay on course. It will be good to have the cafe open again.
In the meantime, takeaway Sunday lunch is very popular, as are the afternoon teas and picnic boxes.
What with Valentine's Day just gone and Mothering Sunday coming soon, the butcher's and the shop remain very busy.
Hope we are all vaccinated soon, but in the meantime, stay safe.
What funny times these are... I have to say I feel like one of those people going in and out on a weather clock.
Brexit? Are we in or are we out? Covid-19? Which tier are we in, and will we go out or stay in?
At the end of it all, however, farming goes on, so I am a lucky one. I can go out and tend to the livestock, make checks on the growing crops for disease and so on, and generally take the fresh air.
Even so, I've just learned that I can't do all that at a leisurely pace, because a load of turkeys have arrived and they have to be prepared for individual customers and checked that all's as it should be.
Yet again the weather is playing its part. We've had plenty of rain this week. Fortunately, we don't flood and I sympathise with those who suffer the River Severn bursting its banks. We do get some water logging, however, and it's been necessary to move some of the sheep onto drier fields.
This Christmas is throwing up many new challenges in the farm shop. Because hospitality has basically stopped, there has been a huge demand for Christmas hampers. Also, with only small family gatherings allowed, we've had a lot of requests for small turkeys and joints of meat.
Everything is so different and unpredictable, but hopefully everyone is rising to the challenge.
Wishing all of you a merry Christmas and a happy new year, from us all at Churncote.
Here's a scary thought... Christmas Day is only five weeks away today. Things are beginning to get busier in the shop with orders coming in and Covid is still presenting us with loads of problems. Hopefully, with help and patience we'll get through and enjoy the festivities.
Farming-wise. I can report that we've finished drilling all the winter corn seed - that's planting to town folk... With a view to improving the establishment of plants, we've been trialling a new drill. I couldn't be sure, but I think some of those involved were more impressed with the big, shiny 200-horse-power tractor that came with the drill. Personally, I'll wait to see how the crop performs.
This morning I removed the rams from the ewes. Hopefully they will have done what's required of them. One or two look as though they've taken their responsibilities to the extreme and will need nurturing back to full strength.
At the same time, we introduced some new Beltex rams to the ewe lambs that we're bringing into the main flock. Any of these that conceive be rear a lamb will be something of a bonus. Generally, though, it does improve the ewes' mothering instincts.
Wednesday morning was taken up by an inspection from Animal Health, Shropshire County Council, to renew our licence to feed home=produced food to the sheep and cattle. All is well. The paperwork is all up to date.
Next week we're expecting the Christmas trees to arrive. And hopefully, December 3 will see the reopening of the Cote Cafe and perhaps we'll start to feel a bit more normal.
David Clarke has been farming at Churncote for many years. He and wife Sue started selling the produce from the farm in 2003, which gives him long-standing insight into the reality of the farm to fork process. David will be sharing his experience regularly here.