by Zoe Clear and Rod Kebble
The Jersey Girls — a team composed of Andrea Vale, Sarah Howie and Pierrepont Farm’s Zoe Clear — won the Dairy Team event at the inaugural National Young Show Stars Challenge, held on Wednesday 1st and Thursday 2nd April at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern.
The girls were sponsored by UK Jerseys and the show attracted over 100 young contestants aged between 14 and 24 from all over the UK and a team from Canada.
Although 20 teams took part in the beef competition, the dairy contest was just between a team from Askham Bryan College and the Jersey Girls. There were also separate sections for pigs and sheep, as well as for auctioneers and butchers.
The dairy contestants had first to create a promotional display (which took two days), that then had to be erected at the showground. Two Jersey calves — Jovial Precision Charmer and Dreammaker Sultans Rhona, supplied by Sarah Howie — had also to be settled in as part of the display.
On the Wednesday evening, the team had to visit a farm and judge five Holstein cows.
The next day, the girls had to prepare the calves for the show ring. This included washing and clipping the animals and “top lining” them in order to make any conformation faults less obvious. Sarah and Zoe showed the two calves, while Andrea did an interview. Zoe Clear won the handling, with Sarah coming third.
The girls have won a trip to a show in France next February. It is unlikely to be in the form of tickets for the Moulin Rouge — more along the lines of clipping a Charolais at an agricultural event in Brittany. We’ll let you know when more details emerge.
You can find out more about the girls and the show here.
by Annika Rees, Pierrepont Farm’s education officer, & Rod Kebble
Pierrepont Farm’s outdoor classroom is designed to be a base for visiting school and youth groups — for example, Cubs and Brownies — whilst they undertake various activities in Tankersford Wood, such as minibeast hunting, wildlife tracking, den building and natural art.
The area around the log circle has been turned into a minibeast haven. A Minibeast Mansion has been built by a willing team of local Cub Scouts from the Wolf Pack, 5th Farnham (Bourne) Scouts.
Old delivery pallets were recycled to build the frame of the mansion by stacking them one on top of another. The gaps between them were filled with a collection of different natural and man-made materials, to create habitats for a variety of creatures:
- the straw, sticks, tree bark, leaves and pine cones all make great habitats for a range of insects;
- the hollow bamboo canes provide holes for solitary bees;
- the bricks, roof tiles and pipes make good habitats for amphibians.
Also, two buckets with holes in their sides have been buried in the ground. In the summer, when the soil becomes drier, many minibeasts that like damp, dark conditions go deeper underground. By removing these buckets and carefully examining their contents, this downward migration can hopefully be demonstrated to visiting children — who will enjoy the experience of still finding minibeasts on even the hottest summer’s day.
Different insects can be attracted by filling the buckets with different soil types and substances (sand and wood chip etc). For example, a bucket one-quarter filled with soil and three-quarters filled with wood chip makes a great habitat for stag beetles.
In addition, lots of log piles and pieces of dead wood litter the floor in the surrounding area, making this corner of the woodland a great place to spend time looking for all those creepy-crawlies!
by Rod Kebble
Our thanks to Zoë Clear for providing these photographs of the Pierrepont milking herd of pedigree Jersey cows as they were released back into the fields last Saturday (March 21st), after their winter incarceration.
The cows have to be kept indoors during the winter months, as (a) there is very little grass in the fields for them to eat and it is of poor quality, and (b) if they were left in the fields in wet winter weather, their hooves would churn up (“poach”) the ground and any grass trying to grow in it.
As anyone who has seen the cows race indoors when it rains — as they can now do since the robotic milking machines were installed in 2011 — can testify, they do not like getting wet any more than do humans. Although the dairy has open sides, there is a roof to keep off the rain and retain the heat generated by the herd itself.
The animals also enjoy waiter service throughout the winter, as herdsman Tony Timmis delivers freshly-prepared meals directly to their stalls. The food is based on the silage made from maize grown on the farm and mixed with other goodies, such as fodder beet, just before serving. That said, one can’t help wondering if the joy shown by these cows, as they see a field of grass once more, reflects in some way on Tony’s cooking…
Visitors to the Festival of Food, Farming and Wildlife on Sunday 7th June will be able to see the cows milking themselves in the robotic milking parlour and visit the recently-arrived calves. Entry and parking for this event are free and further details appear just above this post — scroll up to see them. (If you have followed an external link to this page, navigate to the Home page instead, where the event details are at the head of the posts column.) Follow this link for directions to Pierrepont Farm.