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Great Missenden Food Festival

NEWS:
Unfortunately, due to the weather, Great Missenden Food Festival has been cancelled.
Please contact the organisers, Love Food Live, with any queries.

Friday 30th March – Monday 2nd April at Chiltern Open Air Museum

This Easter weekend Chiltern Open Air Museum will be hosting the Great Missenden Food Festival. This popular food festival is usually held in Great Missenden, hence the name, but the site usually used for the event has been temporarily commandeered by HS2. Here at Chiltern Open Air Museum we’re quite excited to be the host site for the food festival and we hope it will bring a whole new audience to the Museum.

The food festival, now in its 15th year, is organised by Love Food Live and is a quality food festival featuring celebrity chefs, masterclasses, artisan food producers and general foodie fun for the whole family. Ticketing to this event is separate to the Museum and can be purchased at www.greatmissendenfoodfestival.co.uk admission to the rest of the Museum for the entire Easter weekend, and Eggciting Easter event will be by a small donation only.

Here is what you can expect to see at the event:

Celebrity Chefs and Experts

The Baker Brothers
Saturday and Easter Monday – Henry Herbert
When Tom and Henry Herbert aren’t at the frontline of the bakery you may see them on the television or at events performing as their double act The Fabulous Baker Brothers. These brothers have been bringing the ultimate bread and meat combinations to you since 2012, with a series on Channel 4 and More4. When they were growing up Henry decided that Tom had the bread thing covered and that he wouldn’t follow his path but would become a chef. Little did he know that, after a few successful years in London, that the two brothers would end up working next door to each other, Henry as the Butcher and Tom as the Baker.

Paul Jagger

Paul Jagger – Winner of the Christmas Great British Bake Off 2017
All Weekend
Paul Jagger won the Christmas Great British Bake Off in 2017 and was a quarter finalist on The Great British Bake Off 2015. He has earnt himself the nickname as ‘ The Baking Governor’ as he is a serving Prison Governor. Princess Anne has asked Paul to bake her brownies as she visited his place of work. Paul is totally self –taught baker, has years of experience in public speaking, and has a real passion for baking and cake decorating. He was also a Queen’s, Coldstream Guard and believes Real Men Cook, and wants to show that any age can start baking. Paul feels that if you love Baking you should have a go, and with practice it gets better. Baking, and bread making has become something he really loves to teach others to do. He has been asked to do special commissions of bread Sculptures for the Cake and Bake Shows London and Manchester 2016, and has some exciting projects with bread sculptures in 2017. Paul received the only Special Commendation for his Bread Lion on Bake Off, which had huge media coverage.

Stephanie Moon
Friday / Saturday / Sunday
Yorkshire award winning star, Stephanie Moon is a professional Chef Consultant and creator of The Wild Cooks’ Blog. Stephanie is a recognised figure on the Yorkshire food scene and has many accolades to her name including Yorkshire Life Magazine ‘Chef of the Year’, Deliciously Yorkshire Champion, and a Bronze medal in the National 2010 British Culinary Federation ‘Chef of the Year’ competition. As well as being a regular demonstrator at food shows, Stephanie has made appearances on both radio and television including Channel 5 ‘Street Market Chefs 2010’ and represented the North East on BBC2’s ‘Great British Menu 2011, 2012 and 2013.”

Clover Hutson
One of the country’s top cookery masterclass chefs and presenter. Delivering culinary demonstrations nationwide, she brings her flair with food and recipe expertise to budding chefs time and again. Experience her unique and entertaining demonstrations and your cooking genius will be well and truly inspired. Also a food stylist she works on many large TV adverts, branding, cookery books and is the food stylist to the food porn awards. Specialising in accessible, easy and healthy “try at home” recipes that she designs around the whole family being involved and enjoying. As a mum of two, she believes passionately in home cooked family eating and get-togethers. some of the best times can be spent round the table. She is also the owner of Thomas Kitten Cookery, the hugely popular children’s cookery classes and party company based in Harrogate. Inspiring little budding chefs!

Fiona Sciolti
With hundreds of demos under her belt, Fiona has a relaxed and informal style, exuding warmth and a passion for delicious food inspired by her Anglo-Italian heritage. Her demos are always lively and informative and she welcomes audience participation with wit and charm. Although focusing on confectionery, bakes and desserts, she is versatile with all types of food. She has demonstrated at festivals nationwide and has also featured on Channel 4’s Secret Supper Club, ITV’s Alan Titchmarsh Show and was the face of a national TV campaign for the Potato Council. Fiona specializes in demonstrating easy to prepare, thrifty recipes, using natural ingredients. Fiona is always passing on handy hints and tips for the home cook and judging by the feedback she receives, frequently inspires her audience to go home and have a go themselves.

Mark Lloyd
Foraging Walks
Cook, wild food expert, stockman, hunter, fisherman, author, presenter…… renowned for his British wild food knowledge and true farm to fork ethos, he honed his skills in top establishments both in the UK and Europe. Mark has a passion for shooting, fishing and foraging, also rearing his own livestock and an amazing understanding of kitchen gardens and animal husbandry. His talents don’t end there, writing features on wild food for some of the top food publications, including BBC Good Food Magazine, Harrods, Elle and Countryside Alliance. Appearing on TV shows such as River Cottage during his tenure as Head Chef, but also on Great British Waste Menu, Market Kitchen, Hairy Bikers and live slots on BBC Breakfast as a food expert. Mark also runs a training consultancy, wild food and foraging classes, teaches bespoke cookery classes and runs dining events.

David Willis
Bushcraft Workshops
Bushcraft with David Willis provides fun, informative and educational courses that teach outdoor and wilderness living skills, natural history and woodland crafts: Bushcraft 101, Fire and Feast, Whittling and Woodcraft, The Art of Fire, Campfire Bread Baking, Woodland Walks, scheduled courses and private group. David also does campfire bread baking, now who doesn’t like freshly baked bread? There can’t be many folks who don’t love the smell of bread as it comes out of the oven and the comforting warmth and yumminess of fresh bread. How can bread baking get any better? Well it can – we all know how great food tastes when cooked outdoors – so baking bread outdoors over a campfire is probably about as good as it gets!

Interactive Features

Fisher & Paykel Social Kitchen
A chefs table experience. Enjoy tastings of restaurant quality dishes created by our resident chef. Plus celebrity chef meet and greet. Experience is free of charge and reservations can be booked online.

11.30am – Clover Hutson – Squid and Chorizo Risotto – Chilli Lime Chicken Lettuce Cups
12.30pm – Clover Hutson – Grilled peach and panzanella salad – chickpea curry with flatbread
1.30pm – Chocolate Tasting – Fiona Sciolti
2.15pm – Meet: Paul Jagger (GBBO) Fri/Sun – Henry (Baker Brothers) Sat/Mon
3.30pm – Clover Hutson – Cod with parsley sauce – pan fried mackerel with pear and pomegranate slaw

Master Class Theatre
Get hands on and cook along with our resident chefs. Experience is free of charge and reservations can be booked online.

11.30pm – Stephanie Moon – Fri/Sat – Henry Herbert (Baker Brothers) Sun/Mon
1.15pm – Bake with Paul Jagger (GBBO)
2.15pm – How to Cook Fish with Clover Hutson
3.15pm – Confectionery Master Class with Fiona Sciolti
4.15pm – Vegan Baking with Fiona Sciolti – Fri / Sun Bake with Paul Jagger (GBBO) – Saturday/Monday

Broil King BBQ Theatre
Get hands on and cook along with our resident chefs. Experience is free of charge and reservations can be booked online.

11.00am – Vegan BBQ – Stuffed courgette wrapped mushrooms
12.30pm – BBQ Master – Steamed hake
2.00pm – BBQ Master Class – Fiery chicken parcels
3.30pm – BBQ Master Class – Homemade flatbread & salsa

Foraging Walks
Experience is free of charge and reservations can be booked online.
Mark Lloyd – 11.00am, 2.00pm, 3.30pm

Children’s Cookery School & Food Lab
Experience is free of charge and reservations can be booked online.

10.30am – Pizza
12.00pm – Lava Lamps – NEW
12.45pm – Chocolate Egg Nests
2.15pm – Slime – NEW
3.00pm – Biscuits
4.00pm – Bicarb Rockets

New Health & Wellbeing Theatre
Experience is free of charge and reservations can be booked online.
10.45am – Cook Yourself Healthy – Fri / Sat / Sun
11.30am – Introduction to Yoga – Join in Class – Sat/Sun/Mon
12.30pm – Eating Healthy – Cookery Demo
1.30pm – Kids Yoga – Join in Class – Sat/Sun/Mon
2.30pm – GF Pasta/Banana Flour Cookies with Nomad Health
3.30pm – Cook Yourself Healthy – Fri / Sat / Sun

Bushcraft Workshops
Experience is free of charge and reservations can be booked online.

11.30am – Cooking with Foraged Ingredients
1.00pm – Bread Baking Workshops
2.30pm – Campfire Cooking Demonstration
4.00pm – Bread Baking Workshops

Other Features

Children’s Make n Take Craft Area – Children can decorate shapes with paint and glitter
Children’s Story Telling Corner – 11.00am, 1.00pm, 3.00pm
Children’s Easter Egg Hunt
Local Producers
Street Food Avenue
Have a Go Pottery Sessions
Live Music Stage
VIP Experience
Live Music Stage

Timetables are subject to change at the organisers discretion.


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A Buildings Team update

When I started at the museum, I had hoped to write a blog every month or so to let you all know what I/we were up to. This was seemingly quite optimistic as it has been about three months since my last post!

Here is a little bit of what I have been up to recently and since my last update…

Previously, I told you all about the doors to our Edwardian public conveniences, Caversham. These have since been fitted and I have encouraged all of the volunteers to go and gaze over the fabulous paint job. I don’t think they have gazed quite as I had imagined, but the doors are in, they work…mostly…and the rest of Caversham is hopefully going to get a new coat of paint later this spring.

I have also gone and completed my Asbestos Awareness training. This will prove to be invaluable when working with our old buildings, and also after I leave the museum, as asbestos was such a widely used material in pre-1919 buildings and continued to be used in construction up until the end of 1999.

Chapel Studio:

Since starting at the museum I have put some thought in to what I want out of my time here and what I have to offer the team. Having been very focused on more of the structural side of heritage buildings, I decided to take a look at some of the decorative disciplines within the industry.

From the end of November, and every Tuesday for the following 3 weeks, I spent the day with the team at Chapel Studio in Hunton Bridge. From my first day I was well looked after, fed chocolate whilst listening to Christmas songs, and introduced to the techniques and methodology used in making stained/leaded glass windows.

To start with I was offered the use of the clear glass. Given the prices of some of the coloured pieces, I was more than happy to stay away from those for a bit!

Step one was to create a template. I was advised to include both straight lines and curved lines to get used to using the cutters and this is the product of that lesson.

I had to amend the initial design slightly as I had neglected to take the thickness of the lead into consideration.

Step two was to select my glass and cut it. Although all of the glass I chose was clear and not coloured, I spent time choosing different thicknesses and textures. I ended up with a piece of frosted glass, some thick, modern, flat glass with a green edge, pieces with an embossed pattern on one side, and some very thin, delicate fragments with small air bubbles in.

After cutting the glass, the third step was to start leading the lights. This was a bit trickier than I had imagined and really showed the accuracy, or inaccuracy, of my cutting skills.

Once the lead had been fitted to the glass, and I was happy that it represented the template precisely, they were soldered in to place. This, obviously, is a vital part to get right as the risk is of the panel falling to bits under its own weight. I’m proud to say that this was executed almost perfectly! Although they could all have done it a lot quicker than me.

After four days with the team, this was my finished product. I am very pleased with how it turned out and especially how much I leaned in those few days. The very specific and different stages that make up a leaded glass panel was interesting to discover and the labour that is required to make from new but also restore existing windows was not something I had really appreciated. At some point soon I hope to return to learn some more about the techniques and methods used for painting the details on to glass panels.

Elm Barn:

Just after my final day at the studio in Hunton Bridge, I returned to the more structural side of heritage buildings and made my way to a woodland just to the South of Cambridge. Here I helped a team of four collect the last few elm logs for the building of a timber barn. This was hard work to say the least and I was grateful for the buckets of tea that were supplied.

After a morning collecting timber, we headed back towards Welwyn Garden City where the brick plinth for the barn was in the final stages. Here our logs were added to the huge piles of previously acquired elm and larger pieces of oak, all of which are to be converted towards the end of February for use building the barn.

The main reason for my attendance here was to have a go at bricklaying and help with the brick plinth. I laid a few bricks while I was there and some of the other members of the team continued to mix lime while the sun set.

Nissen Hut:

Here at the museum, we have continued to make some headway with our current project, the new Nissen Hut.

Before Christmas the templates for our panels were being made in the workshop, and this year already we have stormed through 11 of the 16 floor panels. As with some of the previous projects, I have enjoyed drawing pictures on our whiteboard to try and keep all of the volunteers up to speed with the current part of the project. Here is my attempt at illustrating the many components of the floor panels…there is quite a lot missing still but I ran out of space.

Each semi-circular end of the hut is made up of five main sections: the central part of which contains the door, the sections containing the windows which flank the door, and the smaller panels on the outside edge. These outside edge panels, four all together, have now been completed.

For the 16 floor panels, each of them over 8’ long and over 4’ wide, we have had to individually prepare each floorboard. By this I mean we have had to:

  1. Remove excess sawdust, residue and resin from both sides – this can affect the machinery that we send the boards through and also give inaccurate readings for measurements if not removed.
  2. Check that each board is over 1” thick along the majority of the length – as the boards need to have a smooth, planed side, they need to be over an inch so that they can be planed to the same thickness.
  3. Cut each board to 5¾”wide – each panel consists of nine boards, 8 of which are this width.
  4. Check the grain for direction of cupping and determine the topside of each board – the boards are being placed on the panels so that any distortion lifts in the centre, rather than at the edges.
  5. Send the board through the planer/thicknesser, topside up – this gives a smooth top surface and makes all the boards the same/correct thickness.
  6. Create the tongue and groove – this entails sending the boards through the machine three times.
  7. Fit the boards to the panels.

For the 16 panels, this process has to be completed for each of the 144 floorboards!

Once the floor panels are finished, there are six more panels for the end walls to be completed, the ribs still need to be modified, the brick piers have to be built, and quite a few more bits and pieces….more to follow in later updates.

Over the next couple of months, I hope to explore the decorative side slightly more by visiting a local wood carver. I have also booked a week to help construct the elm barn by Welwyn Garden City, and I am looking at further framing courses at the Weald & Downland museum to broaden my understanding. The Nissen Hut is due to be finished and opened this year so I will be continuing to help with that along with the scheduled maintenance on the other buildings.

Hopefully, in there somewhere, I can get back to send you all another update of where we’re at…

Written by Jess Eyre
HLF Buildings Trainee


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Tractors, Tractors and Tractors

As you may have guessed from the blogs title, there is something I have become very fond of whilst being here at COAM……. TRACTORS!

Having very limited experience on tractors, but a keen interest since from when I can remember, I made a tractor driving course high on my priority. I attended a two day course at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester were I obtained my tractor driving and machine handing certificate. With my main interest in tractors of an older generation I was much unprepared when meeting what I thought was nothing short of a spaceship.

Fortunately my instructor on the course was also interested in older tractors and would often refer to them during the training. Over the two days I was able to understand the controls needed for most jobs from simple driving to using powered implements on the PTO (power take off).

Since then I have been very fortunate to use my skills during the process of planting of this year’s wheat. I was able to use a harrow after it had been ploughed, which is essentially breaking the bigger clods of soil into smaller ones. I was then able to harrow after the wheat had been sown to disperse and bury it and then roll it to complete the process.

A personal favourite of mine is the Fergusson TE35 we have on site. A brilliant little tractor and a real classic example of extraordinary agricultural engineering of times gone by.

A new additional to the farms supply of work horses is on the small size, in the shape of a Kubota B1620 which at its rather “cute”, size its ideal for jobs like getting through the woodlands narrow paths and transporting fire wood. A handy extra is the tipping trailer which we brought with it, meaning we can load and tip all sorts of things from brushwood to gravel.

I really do appreciate how vital a tractor is to running a farm, especially when seeing Rob working the heavy horses on site. It’s a reminder of the extraordinary extra amount of work that was involved before the introduction of tractors.

Written by Josh Hayes
HLF Farm and Site Trainee


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10 things that you might not know about COAM

Amersham prefab at COAM

10 things that you might not know about Chiltern Open Air Museum

  • The Museum has seen an increase of over 90% in visitors over the last 4 years!
  • Over 21,000 school children visited the Museum for school workshops in 2017.
  • The Museum has over 200 active volunteers and we couldn’t run without them.
  • The Museum has 14 buildings in store waiting to be reconstructed on the site, we just need to raise the funds so that we can do this.
  • The 14 buildings in store are all stored flat packed within Glory Mill, which is one of our historic buildings. It’s like our own historic Ikea!
  • The Museum is a charity and any profits go back into the Museum so that we can continue the valuable conservation work that we do.
  • The Museum currently only has 7 full-time members of staff, 8 part-time members of staff and 2 Heritage Lottery Funded trainees. Due to the increase in visitor numbers mentioned in point 1, this will be changing for 2018 so keep an eye on our vacancies page if you’re interested in joining our team.
  • The Museum’s farm was used for filming in series 2 of Downton Abbey.
  • The Museum has been used for filming 35 TV programs/dramas/films since 2011.
  • Our buildings are named after the place that they were rescued from.

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Stooking and Spooking and other Farm Activities

Things have been settling down on the Museum’s farm since the summer although the harvest and Halloween events kept the COAM team busy.

The new Farm and Site Manager, Alaric, is settling in well and formulating some exciting plans for the farm, meadows and woodlands for the future.

It has also been quiet, not literally though, on the animal front with no recent comings and goings. The calf is growing up quickly and the lambs are now almost indistinguishable from their mothers.  Daryl the ram has gracefully accepted, if you can use graceful when referring to him, the two ‘trainee rams’ from this year’s lambs. Although still top ram, the trainees are getting noticeably more assertive but accept being put in their place by Daryl.

Goats at Chiltern Open Air Museum

The Old English goats continue in their unpredictably eccentric and often amusing behavior – that is as long as it does not involve horns and walks! They have been enjoying the meadow next to the Toll House since mid-summer. Its fallen tree provides a great climbing frame and the variety of vegetation provides much to munch.

The morning walk from their night time farmyard quarters to their field is now often a rush to get there quickly. This does not however help with the route hedge maintenance leaving more for the staff and volunteers to do.  But it does reduce the time and opportunity for them to misbehave on route.

One of the bigger events of the year for the farm is the Harvest Festival weekend. The 1940s threshing machine was dusted down and carefully prepared by the farm artefacts team for demonstrations of how the harvest was done in the past. The nearly as old Fergusson tractor was set up to provide the power to run the thresher and the recently restored binder linked up to the reverse of the threshing machine.

Farm and Site Manager Job

Visitors who attended one of the two days were able to watch demonstrations of how the threshing was done from the days of steam through to the 1950s. Stooks of wheat prepared in the fields when harvested were fed into the thresher to separate the grain from the straw. The grain is sacked up whilst the straw was deposited into the binder.

Halloween has become the finale of the Museum’s season and is the busiest event of the year with 2000 plus, mainly young visitors descending on the site during a madly exciting few hours.

The evening is a hectic and stressful time for staff and volunteers. However it is worth it for the pleasure it brings to many of our more junior visitors who have a great time enjoying the crafts and experiences of Halloween, as well as many tasty treats whilst also being scarred witless, along with many parents it has to be said, enjoying the scary walks.

The farm team have responsibility for preparing the spooky walks as well as getting the barns ready for activities. The animals also have to be moved to suitable locations where necessary as the object is not to spook them!

So after the excitement of Halloween, a calm of sorts descends on the Museum with only the educational groups of school children continuing to visit for another month or so before the Museum’s final event of the year, the Victorian Christmas on 2/3 December.

It will not be quiet on the farm though as there is much winter work to be done before the Museum fully opens next spring. Hedgelaying will resume as wildlife dictates that this must be a winter activity. There is work to be done in the woodlands including path scrub clearance and maintenance ensuring a safe passage for visitors.

There is also plenty of scrub and tree clearance to be done in other parts of the woods. This is a necessary part of woodland habitat management and will also allow more suitable tree species to be planted where appropriate.

Bosch_Volunteers_COAM_600px

This type of work is time consuming and cannot easily be done with visitors present. The farm team were recently helped by an enthusiastic group of volunteers from Robert Bosch who swapped their desks for a day in the fresh air to help start the clearance of a large area of scrub. Even with heavy rain stopping play for an hour or so, they achieved a lot which has been a great help.

So when you are warm and dry inside your workplace, school or curled up at home during the day in front of the fire, just bear a thought for the farm team who will be hard at work outside in the cold and wet this winter – loving every minute of it!

Written by Julian Stanton
COAM Farm Volunteer


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Building Project Progress – Jess Eyre

Since my last blog, there have been a few developments on the Building Team. The most challenging of them all being the boss’s two week vacation in the middle of the month, leaving me in the driver’s seat!

Before he left for sunnier climes, headway was made covering the stacks in Glory Mill, as per my last blog, and the cherry-picker has since arrived for the insulation application. Stationed at the top of the cherry-picker is Colin, a stonemason who has worked with the museum for a number of years.

Cherry-picker-200pxIn the last month, I have had the opportunity to go away and work with him on some of his ‘live’ jobs which has been both incredibly interesting and challenging at times.

These external ‘placements’ have included repairing stonework and render on a blind, 14th Century, church doorway and painting the timber on a medieval granary.

I joined Colin and his laborer Kieran on their last day at the granary, so the photographs I was able to get are limited.

They show the lime washed panels, which Colin and Kieran had already completed, and the extent of the timber work to be painted with black linseed oil paint.

Tusmore-Estate-Photo-600pxIn contrast, I have been assisting Colin at the church since his first day on site, so I’ve really had the opportunity to get stuck in and see how his tasks generally evolve.

Church

Cookham-before-200pxAt some point in its past, the church doorway has had a cement render and slurry applied over the soft chalk, or clunch, stone beneath. Where cracks and holes have appeared over the years, moisture has seeped in and created a loss of adhesion with the underlying stone. The telltale sign of this was the hollow sound when we tapped the render, and the slight bulges in places. The ivy growing behind the cement was a big giveaway too!

 

Cookham-15th-Sept---12-Jess-200pxOver a period of four days, we have removed the failed render and started replacing it with lime. Ideally, the entire doorway including archivolt mouldings, jambs, columns and hoodmould, which have been slurried or rendered with cement, would also be reworked in lime. However, the financial constraints that face any church when it comes to work such as this, means only doing what is absolutely necessary. As everything else appears sound, and more damage would be caused removing the cement, we are concentrating on three main areas: the quoins on either side, the right side jamb, and part of the archivolt.

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Caversham

One of the – many – jobs on the list for the volunteers and I to get started whilst the boss was away, was the new doors for the Caversham toilet block at the top of site.

The original timber doors had rotted in various areas and had been retired before I commenced my trainee programme. Solid wood doors based faithfully on the originals had been skillfully created by a local joiners and were awaiting a lick of green paint and the addition of the brass door furniture. Progress was slower than I expected while we were left to our own devices, although the hinges had been cut and were almost millimeter perfect. Almost!

Things have certainly sped along since the boss returned, and both the doors have nearly had their three coats of paint. Caversham-door-painting---Jess-2-200px Cutting the mortice for the lock took about two days due to the 7” depth, but we are now on the final stretch and even all the brass work has been Brasso’d…and brown sauced.

Photos to follow as and when the doors have been fitted.

By Jess Eyre
HLF Buildings Trainee

Image of Tusmore Estate © Jonathan Thacker

 

 

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A Summer of Change on the Farm

There have been happy and sad times with comings and goings on the Museum farm this summer.

To start on a happy note, a calf came to the farm early in the summer to give Clementine the cow company. Both reddish brown, they can be seen at this time in the paddocks close to the farmyard. Clementine and the calf are getting along well together.

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With the birth of the Oxford Down lambs in the spring, grazing capacity was being pushed to its limit as numbers of sheep approached 50, far more than the Museum farm really has the space for. This was due to the delay in the departure of the Hoggets who finally left early in the summer followed by some of the ewes who were surplus to the farm’s needs.

More recently some of this year’s lambs have departed as well as Gordon the ram. You may have seen Gordon, with his buddy Daryl, in the paddocks around the farm hoping for an ear rub from a visitor. Gordon may well be pleased when he finds out that his new role will be to keep the ewes happy at his new home this autumn – as long as he can cope with so many ewes for company!

Feeding-sheep-COAM-400px

This left his pal Daryl with no one to boss around – but only for a very short time. Two of the rams from this year’s lambs have recently joined him. They are getting on fine even though Daryl is happily putting them in their place as they attempt to be assertive.

On the human front, the farm has also seen staff changes with a number of comings and goings. July saw the arrival of the Heritage Lottery funded farm trainee Josh Hayes who replaced the departing Lindsay Rule who came to the end of her 18 month traineeship. This lottery funded position, of which Josh will be the last trainee, has been a much welcome opportunity for the Museum in providing essential support for the farm manager. The post is an excellent opportunity for a young person to learn not only about farming and estate management, but also gain experience in an environment with visitors as well as how to manage and work with us volunteers.

Finally, Conway Rowlands, the farm and site manager for 15 years decided to move on to fulfill one of his dreams away from the Museum. Conway was at the forefront of many of the farm developments bringing in many positive changes over the years.

Conway has been replaced by Alaric Bowler who brings some exciting fresh thinking to the farm and estate management role with new ideas to enhance the visitors’ experience. Alaric is finding his feet and developing his plans and visitors will see some of these developments next year.

Just to update regular readers of the farm blogs. The chickens are happy now having full freedom of their pen to peck around all day following DEFRA restrictions keeping them locked up earlier this year. And the goats? Well Crystal can be just as badly behaved as ever on her walks!

By Julian Stanton Farm Volunteer

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Introduction

Jess-300pxAllow me to introduce myself, I am Jess, the third and final Heritage Lottery Funded Buildings Trainee to walk through the COAM gates.

I am only about a month into my Traineeship, so have almost the full 18 months to look forward to and I’m excited at the prospect of what I will learn in that time. In these first few weeks, while I find my feet, I am under the watchful eye and expert tutelage of the Buildings Manager, John. He and the Buildings Team volunteers have all made me feel very welcome and been very patient with me.

As this is my first blog post, I will let you know a bit about me as well as what I’ve been doing on site these past few weeks.

Firstly, I’ve moved down from Milton Keynes to begin this traineeship. Not too far in terms of distance, but I do feel a long way from the grid system and concrete cows at times.

My previous relevant building experience includes six months spent at the Tywi Centre, South Wales in 2015, where I learnt basic carpentry, lime plastering/rendering/science, and dry stone walling. I found during this time that I was particularly keen on working with timber and subsequently took myself on multiple framing courses, which I loved and which taught me so much about the possibilities of working with this material. I have also undertaken brief introductions to blacksmithing and other metal work/welding, although these further confirmed my interest in timber and trees.

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After moving back to MK slightly earlier than planned, I found historical building work pretty thin on the ground for my basic skill level. As a result, and in an attempt to keep up to speed with the industry, I started an MSc in Historic Conservation. This has been put on hold whilst I complete my training here and I will resume immediately after completion in January 2019. So a busy couple of years ahead!

 

Getting back to the work here at COAM, there have been a few little projects on the go, including a general workshop tidy. It was here that I put my hard earned Fine Art degree to good use with the creation of a rather spiffing shadow board!

The Buildings Team have also been busy covering the rest of the workshop in Glory Mill with tarpaulin. Glory Mill is a Museum building used as a workshop and as a storage facility for the collection of historic buildings that are waiting to be reconstructed at the Museum. There are about 15 buildings stored flat pack style all waiting for funds so that they can be reconstructed on the Museum site.

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This tarp is to protect the contents of our Aladdin’s Cave from the effects and over-spill of spray-on foam insulation. The front of the workshop has already been treated by my predecessor Sam, John, and some volunteers, and the rest is penciled in for very soon.

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I’ve taken a photo, for anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about, of the line in the ceiling where the existing foam meets the bare corrugated ceiling.

In other news, I have also made a small wooden box which has been used to house an external RCD socket. I have taken an exciting number of photos of the building process as it was my very first project…

 

 

 

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…if you’re still here, thank you for taking the time to read my first blog. If you’re on site and see me around, pop over and say hello (the orange hair means you can’t miss me!) and I look forward to showing you lots of photos again next time.

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New 2017 Farm and Site Trainee

Hi my name is Josh and I’m the new farm and site trainee. I am coming to the end of my first month at COAM and what a month it’s been. Over the past two years I’ve been studying a countryside management course which focused on wildlife and conservation, but I always have had a passion for agriculture specifically livestock which I’m really looking to get stuck into and hopefully learn as much as I can about. This picture to the below shows me with one of our resident rams, Darrell who is the father of this year’s lambs and a favourite of mine. In the future I would love to work with sheep and from the traineeship I hope to gain the skills to be able to do this.

Josh-and-lamb-COAMAnother side of farming which I have had a chance to have a go at is the hay making process. The picture to the below shows me in the process of making a haycock which are made in order to create an egg like shape which will protect most the hay from bad weather or even morning dew. Having done nothing with arable farming before this was a new for me and was quite an experience as it was a blisteringly hot day.

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Something which has been one of my highlights of the month is being able to make two hurdles as shown in the picture. I have been involved with greenwood craft for just over two years now and so I know some basics but I had not made a hurdle before. These are used on the farm exactly the same as modern metal hurdles to pen up sheep when we want to do something with them, for example when we put them in the foot bath. They were traditionally used in the process of folding sheep which meant a shepherd could move his flock to different sections of fields along with his shepherd van.

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Overall my first month at COAM has been brilliant and I’m very excited to see what I will learn throughout my 18 months.

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Lambs Find Hidden Meadow – And Worming!

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If you visited the Museum in the spring and walked in the Hidden Meadow, you would have enjoyed the proliferation of spring flowers. The meadow is however, an important grazing area for the Museum’s sheep and the Museum’s farm staff and volunteers spent much of the winter reducing the invasive scrub cover and erecting or repairing stock fencing. So the ewes with this year’s lambs have now moved into the Hidden Meadow to give other grazing areas a rest.

The impact of this is that the vista of wild flowers may not be as splendid for a while as the sheep munch and trample their way through the meadow. However, this is an important part of meadow management and grazing the sheep will help keep unwanted scrub growth under control which will help ensure future re-growth of meadow plants so we can enjoy the flowers again in coming years.

Properly managed grazing is essential for the health and welfare of the sheep whilst helping to maintain an appropriately rich variety of wildflowers amongst the grasses. The Hidden Meadow has not been grazed for over a year and it is this practice that helps to encourage wildflowers to thrive, whilst also providing time for vegetation born parasites that can be harmful to sheep, to die out.

Parasitic nematodes, spread through infected sheep faeces, can be a problem for flocks as the parasites migrate to the meadows grasses and plants. The sheep then ingest the parasite when grazing and the cycle continues if not dealt with effectively.

When moving sheep to pasture not grazed for over one year, it is firstly good management to ensure the sheep go there parasite free. However, it is also important to provide protection just in case any parasites have survived.

Prior to the flock being moved to their new home for the summer, it was necessary to protect each ewe and lamb, as well as the two rams which are grazed separately, with protection through applying an oral worming treatment. A nice job for the farm manager Conway Rowlands until he suggested that it would be helpful if some volunteers could also learn how to carry out the treatment. The fun of volunteering!

Three of us volunteers were happy to get involved. This required the application of the worming treatment solution by using a drench gun to dispense a measured amount on to the back of the animal’s tongue. This is where the fun started!

Being able to explain to children as to why they should take medicine gives you half a chance of success and this may work with some adults as well! But as the farm’s Oxford Down sheep have yet to make any serious attempt to properly learn the English language and to be fair, nor have the farm team been bothered to learn sheep speak. Therefore, you cannot reason with the sheep as to why you want to shove a drench gun in its mouth and ask it to behave reasonably whilst doing so.

The worming process is probably a straightforward task for the experienced sheep farmer, but for a volunteer doing it for the first time, an interesting challenge. So the task in hand required the capture of every ewe, lamb and err, the rams! Without a sheepdog in sight, this may have proved tricky. But with the rattle of the feeding bucket carried by the farm manager, the ewes and most lambs obligingly followed him pied-piper like into a holding pen joined by the rest of us rounding up the stragglers from behind.

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It was then time to catch the ewes one by one, followed by the lambs, and administer the appropriate amount of wormer whilst ensuring it was all swallowed.  The animal was then marked with a dye to ensure it did not get a second dose.

The ewes were wary as they had past experience of worming. As it was the first time for three of us volunteers, we decided that one person would catch the sheep and hold it securely whilst another would administer the dose and the other apply a marking spray to indicate job done.

The first sheep were not too difficult to capture as there was plenty of choice to be able grab one who was due the wormer. It became harder as the number of waiting candidates reduced and they would try and hide. The trick was not to let the target sheep think it was next as it would try and keep well away from you. So not looking directly at it and seemingly aiming for another animal whilst quickly and carefully changing direction and grabbing at it when it thought you had not noticed it worked well. This large breed of sheep certainly had the strength to put up a bit of a fight, well more of a frantic wriggle, but then quickly settled in most cases to receive the inevitable.

The lambs were by far the easier to hold still, even though they did not stop wriggling. Their speed, agility and ability to squeeze through small gaps between the other animals made it interesting.

The wormer dose was applied to the back of the animals tongue with the head slightly elevated to encourage swallowing. Squeezing the drench gun nozzle into the mouth was not too difficult whilst holding the sheep’s head firmly in position. But once achieved, the sheep would chew on the nozzle therefore keeping fingers away from the mouth was essential in order to complete the task with a full complement of digits! Marking the sheep was the easy part, but the three of us alternated the tasks to get experience of the whole process.

And then it was the rams turn. A more daunting task against two very strong brutes that seem to growl more than bleat! One ram had history of clearing the height of the fence when a previous catch had been tried. This time they were mere pussycats, although two of us holding them made it easier.

Visitors can still visit the Hidden Meadow which is on one of the Museum’s walking routes. It is always a nice area, whether grazed or not. And the sheep – they were none the worse for their experience and all but the two rams are enjoying the fresh and plentiful pasture in the Hidden Meadow.

 

 

 

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