Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category
It was the last day of term for the Landbased Diploma students today – 5th April – and for the last 3 week they have immersed themselves in lambing at Hill Farm, run by Roly & Camilla Puzey. They have been given the opportunity through the Earth Trusts farm start programme. Roly has been such a great advocate of sharing the beauties of farming with a wider audience since his days at LEAF. this has very much continued at Hill Farm.
Our students have immersed themselves in lambing – not just the glamorous jobs of helping give birth, but the less exciting but equally vital jobs of sweeping up, bedding down, cleaning out pens and moving ewes and lambs.
To complete the term, which was all based on animal production and the linkages with food production, we visted a local butcher – Gary Smith Butchers, in Wallingford.
Here Terry cut up one of the lambs and showed the students how it was done and why it was so important to handle the lambs carefully during the grading process. We’d actually been grading lambs the week before at Roly’s farm, but unfortunately we weren’t able to see Roly’s lambs. An added bonus to the visit for the Diploma Students was the opportunity to progress – Scott, terry’s apprentice had previously done a Countryside Stewardship course at Northmoor Trust and had progressed to butchery and is currently studying an NVQ in butchery.
Finally we thought it would be a good idea to round the day off with a trip to the local Waitrose store to compare prices of the 3 suppliers – Roly, Gary Smith Butchers and Waitrose. The most noticeable, and not surprisingly was the availability of New Zealand lamb in Waitrose over local lamb. Pricewise there wasn’t much to choose between them all, which was slightly surprisingly, but the general feeling was that supporting local producers was a good thing to do.
Overall a great last day before half term and the review of lambing and the production process is high on the agenda for the first day back on the 26th may.
Week 3 of the Diploma. We spent time with some ‘Twitchers’ monitoring the bird life down at the Northmoor Trust ponds. I’m not sure who was more impressed with the work Mike and his team did, my impression of ‘twitching’ has changed as a result of spending some time with passionate twitchers! An ex RAF pilot, his passion is birds – whatever you want to know and he’s the man to ask!
And his passion for the subject shone though as he explained why it is important for bird surveys to be done. With approx. 150 native breeds of birds in the UK, another 150 breeds pass through at different times of the year. Knowing the movement of both local and foreign birds gives and indication of climate change, feeding patterns and migration trends both in the UK and abroad.
The process is fairly straight forward. A bird is caught in a net similar in style to a badminton net, but made of very fine material. Every 20 – 30 mins Mike and his team of volunteers checked the 5 sets of nets in the woods. After carefully unpinning them from the nets and carrying them back to their portable lab.
In the lab the birds will be tagged with a small leg ring, if they haven’t got one already. Their weight, wing span and eye colour will be measured and recorded. The whole process takes about 5 minutes per bird. All the information is sent to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).
Only qualified volunteers can carry out the ringing and monitoring of the birds and Mike has been through various BTO courses to be in a position to do this work with his volunteer colleagues.
Overall a fascinating morning for the whole group.
With the new landbased diploma course starting in 2 weeks, does anyone fancy sponsoring 9 14 year old students with some boots and overalls? We’ve various sizes of student, I have measurements, but having these students all dressed in coprporate atire would be great.
Get in touch if you fancy helping out with this great cause. This is what it is all about.
14 days to go
Only 14 days until 9 students from South Oxfordshire schools start their landbased Diploma course. 9 students who want to learn about farming and related industries.
The course is going to be delivered by Oli Rathmill and myself and we’re busy planning what we’re going to do in my first term. So far we’re on week 13 and the list of subjects is:
Week 1) Course intro & Pond survey
Week 2) Woodland habitat survey
Week 3) Ornithology & Tree survey
Week 4) Landscape tour & Soil surveying
Week 5) Landscapes & Growing crops
Week 6) Farming Practices, legislation and environment schemes
Week 7) Ecology and its interaction with the environment
Week 8) Project & Assignment week
Week 9) Wytham Woods field trip
Week 10) Deer survey & Job opportunities in the sector
Week 11) TBC
Week 12) TBC
Week 13) TBC
Week 14) Presentation week and job opportunities