The family was cajoled into helping to wean lambs. It took longer than estimated. It was hot and noisy but we got the job done. Three lambs managed to evade being separated from their mothers by dint of being excellent jumpers or quicker than me on the dividing gate. The lambs were graded and split into two groups. Transported by trailer to fields furthest away from their mothers and which had a fresh regrowth after haying.

The lambs that came home behaved impeccably, assisted by our smart fencing protecting our young hedges. But it’s a different story for the others. The fence looked sound, but 48 hours later, 20 metres of it were flat to the ground. The stakes must have rotted below ground. Sheep were scattered.

We’d hoped the river would keep them apart, but lack of water didn’t help. I had to admit defeat. When I check them now, am I imagining that smug expression on their faces? I have scant sympathy when twins lift their mother’s feet off the ground in their enthusiasm to suckle. Early weaning has not gone according to plan. I’m despondent; I fear my sheep have turned feral. What can I do to rally the family for a re-run?

In this new normal world, even the chatter around the table is different, lack of gossip being a consequence of social distancing. Topics such as gates have been hotly debated. The ease of opening and shutting them and the different techniques required to do so have been discussed at length.

One gate that’s held shut by a loop of barbed wire was heavily criticised. Family members complained about shoving, heaving, dragging, lifting and manipulating an assorted lash up of hurdles, heavy metal or flimsy mesh, a concoction of wire or wooden pallets, held together by varying grades of fraying string, rope, chains and locks.

Middle daughter Hazel decided to demonstrate that swinging well-adjusted gates would be a cost effective saving. She enquired the hourly rate for agricultural wages and did some calculations, based on negotiating through four of our gates, twice, on the way there and back. She allowed one minute each, therefore eight minutes per trip, seven days a week, becomes 56 minutes per week which is 48 hours per year and costs £480 per annum.

Over 40 years, opening and shutting these gates comes to £19,200. In order to keep the family on side, we might have to rethink our gate strategy. I wonder are there any good deals on posts and gates available?

Regardless of how smart your gate is, if footpath walkers leave it open when they find it closed, it’s incredibly frustrating. A bunch of our cattle got mixed with our neighbour’s because someone untied two pieces of string and didn’t bother to close the gate. Cattle are naturally curious, they like an adventure just as much as sheep. Luckily this herd is being fed home-grown rolled corn to supplement the dwindling supply of grass. It only required a bag shaking and a familiar voice calling them to entice them back.

Personally I’m glad that more people are getting out in the countryside, hopefully appreciating their natural surroundings while gaining health benefits and cultivating a better understanding of food production. I like to engage with walkers and encourage them to buy local. I despair about those who have a total lack of respect for the land.

Parking in front of gates is incredibly annoying. The other day we needed to load some cattle on the Pevensey levels. Firstly we had to find the owner of the van blocking the gateway, then we constructed a catching pen. Suddenly a noisy model jet aircraft began performing acrobatics over our heads. It was a miracle that we safely succeeded in penning and loading the required cattle. Lockdown had its merits; less traffic, no model aircraft. It was lovely and peaceful and I’m sure the wildlife must have appreciated it too.

Hooray… countryside productivity small grant scheme money for a mobile cattle handling system has finally been received. Entering into this funding agreement has gained me more grey hairs and left me with a nasty taste, not coronavirus related.

Photographs of invoices, bank statements and of the equipment in use, were submitted as requested. The postcode on the invoice was incorrect, a typo, one letter wrong. The claim was rejected. A 40% saving on this equipment is a lot and without this incentive we wouldn’t have purchased it. I felt very stressed by the threat of not receiving the payment on a tiny error which was not of my making. The Rural Payment Agency appear to have a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ attitude. Is it really necessary to treat farmers like fraudsters?

I support having a recognisable logo representing good standards on British food, but am I the only one to be astounded by the Red Tractor News? I’m not entirely sure when it arrived, but it had July printed on it, a busy time for farmers. Glancing at it I was intrigued to read under the heading “Members’ Rules” that “Rule 4 permits Red Tractor to change the rules and standards as required”. This was followed by a list of other changes to the rules and then a statement: “We will treat your receipt of this as confirmation of your acceptance of the new membership rules”. Does anyone else find this a little high handed?

On the bright side of life, eldest daughter launched me on a paddle board and I survived. Started on my knees and progressed to standing and paddling. I loved it, so tranquil, calming and relaxing yet good for core strength. A great way to observe river goings on. I’m hooked.

Good news; we’ve finally succeeded in getting Nigel and Hannah married. The May wedding wasn’t allowed. They got married on 1 August at Ninfield church, no singing, but it was a beautiful ceremony and we are delighted. That must mean I’m officially a dreaded mother-in-law… yikes!

Oh yes and if you ever fancy having ‘a tiger to tea’, uncle Nigel makes a very good tiger.