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No Lambs This Year – Just Kidding!

With the cold and wet weather, it’s been a challenging winter and early spring on the Museum farm. But our spirits have been kept up by the exciting news of this year’s planned new arrivals.

Winter arrived early this year when it turned up unannounced last year by gate crashing autumn and refusing to go away until the spring. It certainly tested the farm staff and volunteers’ resolve. But winter has its benefits for those of us still on site during this period when the Museum is closed to visitors.

A ghostly calm descends on the site. Walking around feels like a privilege when few people are about as just the staff and mostly farm and building volunteers continue working at this time. With the low winter sun or when gloomy mists descend, the eerie atmosphere can help you imagine yourself being transported back in time.

Winter is a vital time to conduct maintenance and those jobs that are best done at this time of year. But is a challenging time for the Farm Manager and his team, trying to complete seasonal and essential work before the Museum re-opens in the spring. A long list of must do projects are interrupted by the ongoing problems associated with any farm or estate coping with winter weather.

And this winter certainly directed a lot of ‘traditional’ winter weather at the Museum with long cold periods complemented by freezing winds and snow. But the farm team and volunteers just got on with the work as best they could.

One particular day to remember was clearing Blackthorn that was shading out a hedge that was in the process of being laid. Whilst many people across the South and East of England stayed put in their homes that day, three of us volunteers battled on in sub-zero temperatures to get the clearing done. And even though the weather was spiced up by a biting wind and heavy snow showers, it was still better than being stuck in indoors!

And then came spring and the Museum opened just before Easter. But as you probably remember, the heavens opened and the already sodden ground became even more saturated. The Great Missenden Food Event that had moved to the Museum site for Easter, that everyone was so looking forward to, was rained off.  The mud devoured anything that ventured on to the site’s fields. It took weeks to remove all that was stuck or buried.

This of course put more strain on the farm team which had to deal with the aftermath. The situation was helped by a local farmer who kindly brought in his modern farm equipment to speedily restore and seed the damaged fields.

But then the weather gradually improved with some fantastically warm and sunny days on which visitors could enjoy their visit. So it was all looking good for the Museum’s popular Enchanted Evening event, when low and behold, the heavens opened for the duration. But that is British weather for you and the many brave visitors still enjoyed themselves.

So what about the main event of the spring when we are all cheered up after winter by frolicking lambs being about the Museum? Visitors, staff and volunteers alike were disappointed that there were to be no lambs this spring. Spare a thought for poor old Daryl the ram who did not have the autumn he expected!

But sound operational reasons meant it was not practical to manage lambs, but they should be back next year.  And Daryl? He has been kept occupied by his two (delinquent) sons from last year’s lambs that have been practicing challenging to become top ram in the paddock.

However, there was good news on the animal breeding front as the goats, Crystal and Beverly, are expecting kids due anytime from late May. This was the result of the girls having been sent away for their first goat 18-30s type holiday during the Christmas and New Year period.

Goats can have up to three kids, so there could be six. Three to four healthy animals is more likely and would be ideal. However the thought of three additional Crystal offspring following in their sometimes feisty mum’s habit of butting the daily goat walker could liven up the routine even more!

So keep an eye on the Museum website, Twitter or Facebook for news of the goats. And come and visit the Museum farm to meet them once they have arrived.

So whilst the goats have experienced the ups and downs of mothers to be, the ewes have enjoyed a more relaxing winter for once. The new calf you may have seen last year has settled in well and is now nearly as big as Clementine. The harsh winter affected them as snow and strong winds caused damage to their temporary cow shelter with the tarpauling roof being literally torn off on occasions. A more permanent shelter is another project for this year.

Some tree damage also added to the additional winter work, but on the positive side, this provides material for use around the Museum, particularly for firewood.

One of the planned winter projects was to start coppicing and woodland clearance work. Hazel close to the Iron Age building has been coppiced and the materials used to repair the fencing around it. This has opened up the view across the woodland, where other coppicing and clearance has started and will be progressed next winter.

Work has also started on developing the ‘bodgers’ area in the woodland near Aborfield Barn to showcase more green woodworking facilities and the area will feature in this summer’s  Rural Life event when traditional woodland crafts will be demonstrated.

Let’s hope for a pleasantly warm and sunny summer for visitors to enjoy the Museum. Just a little rain for the grass and crops though please!

Written by Julian Stanton, Farm Volunteer


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We’ve been Shortlisted for a Museums + Heritage Award

Museums + Heritage AwardWe’re really excited to have been shortlisted in the Museums + Heritage Awards 2018, under the Education Initiative for our literacy theme days for primary schools. In our industry this is the equivalent to being nominated for a BAFTA, so we’re very excited and very proud of our team. We’re shortlisted with some really big names including: Leeds Museums and Galleries, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, The Royal Parks, UCL Museums and Collections and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

To develop our literacy theme days we used the Talk4Writing approach. We focused on set texts (Wolf Brother, Goodnight Mister Tom and the Little Red Hen) which we then brought to life using characters (both actual and inferred). During our theme days children meet these characters, interact with them and re-live aspects of life ‘in the past’ within the story context.

Our collection of historic buildings and farm provide us with a unique setting to bring these stories to life. We found that children assimilate real knowledge by experiencing historical buildings with authentically dressed internal spaces: they learn ‘by stealth’ about these different periods in time while interacting with characters from a story known to them. Further details on our literacy theme days can be found here.

The winners will be announced at a glitzy award ceremony in London on the 16th May – wish us luck!


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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.

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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!

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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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