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Passing the Bucks

by Rod Kebble

Bev Clear with Discovery Lirsk's Topaz at The Bucks County Show.

Bev Clear with Discovery Lirsk’s Topaz at The Bucks County Show.

Last Thursday, 28th August, Bev and Zoë Clear left their native Surrey and travelled north into darkest Buckinghamshire, to a showground at Weeden Park, near Aylesbury.

They were there for Pierrepont Farm’s first appearance at The Buck County Show, an annual one-day event.

Zoë Clear with Discovery Fantom's Jenny.

Zoë Clear with Discovery Fantom’s Jenny.

As the table below shows, it wasn’t a bad debut. (“Pierrepont” and “Discovery” prefixes both denote Pierrepont herds. Discovery Fantom’s Jenny and Discovery Miles’ Jellybean are owned by Zoë Clear under the name Stonebridge Jerseys.)

Class Position Competitor
Champion Jersey Champion Pierrepont Perfecter’s Money Penny
Reserve Jersey Champion Discovery Fantom’s Jenny
Jersey calf class 1st Discovery Miles’ Jellybean
Jersey heifer in milk (ie with 1 calf) 1st Discovery Lirsk’s Topaz
Cow in milk in 2nd lactation (ie with 2 calves) 1st Discovery Fantom’s Jenny
Cow in milk in 3rd or subsequent lactation (ie with 3 or more calves) 1st Pierrepont Perfecter’s Money Penny
Jersey dam and daughter 1st Discovery Fantom’s Jenny (dam) & Discovery Miles’ Jellybean
Champion interbreed family pair (dam & daughter, granddam & granddaughter or sisters with the same dam) Champions Discovery Fantom’s Jenny & Discovery Miles’ Jellybean
Dairy championship Reserve Dairy Champion Pierrepont Perfecter’s Money Penny
Experienced young handler 1st Zoë Clear


Zoë Clear with Discovery Fantom's Jenny and Bev Clear with Discovery Miles' Jellybean in the Jersey Dam & Daughter class.

Zoë Clear with Discovery Fantom’s Jenny (at the back) and Bev Clear with Discovery Miles’ Jellybean in the Jersey Dam & Daughter class.

The Pierrepont team’s next appearance will be at The Royal Berkshire Show at the end of this month.

Zoë Clear with Pierrepont Perfecter's Money Penny.

Zoë Clear with Pierrepont Perfecter’s Money Penny.



Zoë Clear with Discovery Miles' Jellybean.

Zoë Clear with Discovery Miles’ Jellybean.

Moths and mammals

by Rod Kebble

The third and final free children’s activity morning of the summer holidays took place on Thursday 28th August. The theme was Night Time Neighbours — a chance to get a glimpse of those secretive animals we rarely see — and involved Annika Rees placing moth and mammal traps in Tankersford Wood the night before.

61 moths were caught, representing 17 species, which was pretty good going considering the wet weather of the Wednesday night.

A Maiden's Blush moth.

A Maiden’s Blush moth (in a scratched bug box).

Eight Longworth mammal traps were hidden, marked by red or yellow ribbons nearby. The traps are designed for small mammals, such as voles, moles and mice. Should a shrew venture inside it could prove fatal to it, as it needs to eat more than its own body weight each day. As this means a shrew has to dine every two or three hours, it would not survive the night on the piece of apple used as bait. Fortunately, the shrew is a tiny animal and the trap’s design includes a shrew-size escape hole at the end of the trap, which is too small for any other animal to use.

As well as the bait, the traps also contained some straw bedding.

Twenty-two children were expected but perhaps some were put off by the wet start to the day, as 17 turned up. Once again, the day began with a visit to the milking parlour and to the calves. For those who had been before, there was the alternative of a visit to the slurry lagoon (lots of poo!) and the arrival of the milk tanker to collect two days’ worth of milk was an added diversion.

Children gather round as Annika Rees carefully empties the contents of the first trap into a plastic bag.

Children gather round as Annika Rees carefully empties the contents of the first trap into a plastic bag.

Of the eight traps, four were empty but the others each contained one animal, namely two bank voles, a field vole and a wood mouse. Annika Rees carefully emptied a trap into a large plastic bag — partly to avoid hurting the animal but also to prevent her fingers being nibbled — so that the children could see the little mammal before it was released. After a couple of minutes, the animal was returned to the undergrowth next to where the trap had been, so it could continue on its business.

Everyone then returned to the classroom to view the moths.

The activity mornings are regarded as having been successful and it is intended to hold more in the future.

A file of children sets off through the fern in search of the coloured ribbon that marks the site of the next trap.

Into the ferns — a file of children sets off in search of the coloured ribbon that marks the site of the next trap.



The bank vole that was found in the first trap to be opened.

The bank vole that was found in the first trap to be opened. Unfortunately, the plastic bag prevented a better picture being taken.



The wood mouse that was in the second trap to be opened.

The wood mouse that was in the second trap to be opened, again seen through the plastic bag. Trying to get a picture of the animals as they were released proved impossible, as they were too quick.

(H)edging upwards

by Rod Kebble

Ray Ashdown, Ann Bates and Margaret Ashdown planting the new hedge along the north side of the field in on a sunny Saturday November 2007.

(l-r) Ray Ashdown, Ann Bates and Margaret Ashdown planting the new hedge along the north side of the field in November 2007 (photo: Joan Foster).

In November 2007, the conservation volunteers began planting a hedge along the north and west sides of Reeds Left Field. The soil is sandy and along the north side the hedge plants compete for water with a line of trees that also act as umbrellas, stopping the plants from receiving rainwater.

The plants were encased in plastic spirals, to protect them from rabbits and deer. Unfortunately, it turned out that these particular protectors were intended for use with trees and prevented the young hedge plants from growing properly.

Needless to say, the hedge did not thrive — many plants died and have had to be replaced.

In June 2011 we reported that Ann Bates and Marilyn Cane had hit on the idea of replacing the spirals with 2-litre plastic drinks bottles, with the ends removed. This resulted in the plants putting on more growth — but then the bottles were found to again be contsricting further development and also tended to cook the plants in hot weather.

In 2013, Ann spotted a skip (dumpster) in the corner of the field, filled with sections of green plastic mesh. She made enquiries and found it had been put there by our neighbours the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). No, they said, they had no further use for it as it had done the job it had been bought to do, and, yes, Ann would be doing them a favour by finding another use for it.

Plants in the new mesh guards showing greater growth than those in a couple of the plastic bottles that the mesh is replacing.

The new plastic mesh guards and a couple of the plastic bottles they have replaced.

So Ann and Marilyn began the long job of replacing the plastic bottles with taller plant guards made from cutting the plastic mesh into smaller pieces — fortunately, further supplies became available from the same source. Thank you, RSPB!

The hedge plants — which include hawthorn, acer, hazel and blackthorn (the latter doing least well) — have begun to put on height, so much so that Ray Ashdown has had to trim them to encourage the lower parts to ‘bush out’. Those plants under the trees are still lagging behind their colleagues on the western edge of the field but, thanks to Marilyn and Ann, at last there are signs that the hedge might survive after all.

Still at it! Ann Bates hammers in stakes along the west side of the field in August 2014.

Still at it! Ann Bates hammers in stakes along the west side of the field in August 2014.

Intermediate and senior handler simultaneously

by Rod Kebble

Pierrepont Farm’s Zoë Clear has pulled off the seemingly impossible task of winning both the first place in the Intermediate Handler competition and the title of Champion Senior Handler at the UK Jersey Young Members Weekend, held at Barnowl Jerseys, Evenley in Northamptonshire on 1st-3rd August.

Usually, the Intermediate and Senior classes are mutually exclusive, as membership of either is determined by age and it is impossible to be in both at the same time.

However, the handlers who achieve first and second places in the two classes then take part in a further contest, and it is this that Zoë won, beating contestants with three or four years’ more experience.

Moreover, the animals involved are provided by the hosts of the event, so instead of competing alongside her calf Jellybean, Zoë was partnered by a heifer in calf that she had never seen before that weekend.

Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a photograph of Zoë at the event, so we are taking the liberty of reusing this photo of her and Jellybean at the National Dairy Show earlier this year:

Discovery Miles' Jellybean and her proud handler (and owner), Zoë Clear, winning the Maiden Heifer class at the National Dairy Show. A maiden heifer is a calf up to 15 months that is not in calf.

Discovery Miles’ Jellybean and her proud handler (and owner), Zoë Clear, winning the Maiden Heifer class at the National Dairy Show. A maiden heifer is a calf up to 15 months that is not in calf.

Update, 29th August 2014: it turns out there are a couple of pictures of the event, after all. The uppermost of the two pictures below shows Zoë with the other members of her team, Scooby Jerseys, who picked up the awards for Best Team and the Tidy Lines Competition (Zoë is fourth from left, in the short sleeves). The lower photo shows all the contestants in the weekend (Zoë is in the middle row, under the ‘e’ of ‘Goodness’).

ukjerseys2

ukjerseys1

Young visitors get
stuck in to woodland crafts

by Rod Kebble

The second of the Pierrepont Farm free activity mornings took place on Thursday 21st August, with 19 children — plus parents and grannies — in attendance. As on the previous activity morning, the weather was kind to us.

Farmer Mike Clear shows the children a handful of the pellets fed automatically to the cows while they are in the robotic milking machines.

Farmer Mike Clear shows the children a handful of the pellets fed automatically to the cows while they are in the robotic milking machines.

The theme of this event was Woodland Crafts and the aim was to get the children to make three objects — a dragonfly, a picture made from leaves and a bug hotel — using natural objects sourced from the farm’s woodland (though the bug hotel requires a slice of a 2-litre plastic bottle and a piece of string — which we hope could not have been found in the woods — both of which were provided by Annika Rees, the farm’s education officer).

Annika provided the children with some samples of leaf artwork, such as this deer with antlers formed from small oak leaves...

Annika provided the children with some samples of leaf artwork, such as this deer…



... a cow and a flower and...

… a cow and a flower and…



... a model dragonfly made from a twig and two pairs of sycamore leaves glued facing each other.

… a model dragonfly made from a twig and two pairs of sycamore leaves.

The morning again began with a visit to the milking parlour and to the calves. Then everyone returned to the classsroom for a briefing and to be issued with a plastic box in which to collect materials, followed by a trip to the woods behind the dairy building to search for suitable twigs and leaves.

To the woods! Children and parents searching for materials among the chestnut trees behind the dairy.

To the woods! Children and parents searching for materials among the chestnut trees behind the dairy. The black and white blur in the middle of the picture is Wiz, the farm’s three-legged collie.

The group went slowly along either side of the permissive path, then out through the gate onto the farm drive and back to the classroom, where sheets of paper (some printed as templates), plastic cups of glue and sponges to apply it were laid out in readiness.

One of the children uses a sponge to apply glue to fern leaves, before sticking them in place.

One of the children uses a sponge to apply glue to fern leaves, before sticking them in place.

Completed leaf pictures were then laminated to be kept as souvenirs, though some designs were so thickly coated in leaves that they proved impossible to pass through the machine.

An owl made from moss and leaves is based on a printed template and is the work of one of the children.

This owl, based on a printed template, is the work of one of the children.

As the clock ticked round to 1230, there were once again mutterings from young mouths that surely it must be near lunchtime. Shortly after the appointed time, everyone left bearing their treasured creations and Annika was left to clear up…

The project to make a bug hotel by stuffing a slice of plastic bottle with twigs and leaves seemed to appeal more to parents...

The project to make a bug hotel seemed to appeal more to parents…



... and this mum looks satisfied with her handiwork.

… who seemed pretty satisfied with their results.

The last activity morning takes place on Thursday 28th August, when the theme will be Night Time Neighbours — attendees will see what moths and mammals have been caught in traps set the night before.