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Jersey Girls win new show

by Zoe Clear and Rod Kebble

The Jersey Girls and their bovine colleagues line up with the judges at the award presentation.

(left to right) Glyn Lucas (judge), Andrea Vale, Jovial Precision Charmer, Sarah Howie, Dreammaker Sultans Rhona, Zoe Clear, unknown, Ross Murray (judge) at the award ceremony.

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.

The Jersey Girls stall, with a display about the girls and UK Jerseys, and calves Jovial Precision Charmer and Dreammaker Sultans Rhona.

The Jersey Girls stall, with calves Jovial Precision Charmer (having a kip) and Dreammaker Sultans Rhona (with her back to us).

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.

Andrea, Zoe and Sarah giving the calves a wash and brush-up.

(left to right) Andrea, Zoe and Sarah giving the calves a wash and brush-up.



The Jersey Girls clipping the calves, while judge Glyn Lucas looks on.

Sarah (left) holding the calves still, while Zoe clips Dreammaker Sultans Rhona (front) and Andrea clips Jovial Precision Charmer at the back. The girl with the black-and-white calf (yup, a Holstein) is Rosie Howarth from the rival team from Askham Bryan College. Glyn Lucas, with his back to the camera, casts a judge’s eye over things.

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.

Andrea making last-minute adjustments to the calf before the handling class.

Andrea (centre) making last-minute adjustments before the handling class.



Sarah and Zoe in the show ring with the calves.

Sarah (left) showing Jovial Precision Charmer and Zoe showing Dreammaker Sultans Rhona.



Zoe Clear with the calf, Dreammaker Sultans Rhona, in the show ring.

Zoe Clear showing Dreammaker Sultans Rhona.

Logging-in for outdoor classroom

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.

Forty logs — to fit every size of bottom — in a 24-feet diameter circle form the farm's new alfresco classroom just off the permissive path through Tankersford Wood. The circle was built by the farm's CRT conservation volunteers in the first three months of 2015.

Forty logs — to fit every size of bottom — in a 24-feet diameter circle form the farm’s new alfresco classroom, just off the permissive path through Tankersford Wood. The circle was built by the farm’s CRT conservation volunteers in the first three months of 2015.

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.
Kevin Young and Andrew Hall, two volunteers from the CRT's other property in Surrey, Green Farm near Churt, trim branches from a wind-felled spruce before slicing up the trunk with a chainsaw.

Kevin Young (left) and Andrew Hall — usually to be found at the CRT’s other property in Surrey, Green Farm near Churt — trim branches from a spruce brought down by the wind, prior to sawing the trunk into three-foot (914mm) lengths.

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.

Volunteers Martin Boag and Jim Cane pull a log to the circle site by banging a long nail in each end and attaching ropes, then rolling the log along the ground.

Martin Boag (left) and Jim Cane take one of the logs from the preparation site to the circle site, using the volunteers’ patented system which involves banging a six-inch nail into each end of a log and pulling it. The volunteers were very proud of this method…

The nine-year old grandson of one of the volunteers demonstrated that it is easier to move the log if it is done as a one-man job.

…until the nine-year old grandson of one of the volunteers demonstrated that it is actually easier if it is treated as a one-man job.

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!

Three CRT conservation volunteers, Martin Boag, Jim Cane and Brian Sams, planting logs at the start of the circle's construction. Each log is half-buried in the ground.

(left to right) CRT conservation volunteers Martin Boag, Jim Cane and Brian Sams planting logs at an early stage of the circle’s construction. Roughly half of each log is buried.

The workforce testing the comfort of the logs of the half-completed circle. A pole in the middle ensured the circle was circular and of the correct diameter.

The workforce busy carrying out a quality-control exercise on the half-completed circle. The pole in the middle was used to ensure the circle was circular and of the required diameter.

Herd’s out!

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.

Three members of the herd race down the concrete slope leading to the fields. Never let anyone kid you that cows want to be locked up year-round in factory-farm sheds.

Three members of the herd race down the concrete slope leading to the fields. Never let anyone kid you that cows want to be locked up year-round in factory-farm sheds.

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.

Two cows jump for joy at the chance to stretch their legs after spending the winter months inside.

A chance to stretch their legs after spending the winter months inside…

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.

Only one foot touches the ground as a cow runs into the field with a group of her firends.

Only one foot touches the ground as this cow runs into the field.

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…

All four hooves in the air as another cow reaches the pasture again.

All four hooves in the air as this cow reaches the pasture again.

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.

A cow kneels down to rub her cheek in the grass.

Aaah, meadow!

Platform provides
pondlifeology pupils’ perfect perch

by Rod Kebble

If you’d gone down to Pierrepont Farm on Tuesday, 6th January, you’d have been sure of a big surprise — for a team from Norfolk-based woodworkers, Flights of Fantasy, were building a pond-dipping platform across one corner of the pond in front of the dairy.

The platform was built out from the dairy end towards the south side of the pond, with men in waders working in the water.

This photo was taken at about 1045 on 6th January and shows the first sections being put into place, building out from the dairy end towards the south side of the pond.

Made possible by grants from the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust and The Cobb Charity — to whom we are extremely grateful — the construction of the platform will allow several pond-dippers at once to cast their nets without getting their feet wet and/or leaving their boots stuck in the mud at the pond’s edges.

After a couple of hours, the platform reached the further shore. In order not to puncture the self-sealing Bentomat geosynthetic clay lining of the pond, the six pairs of legs rest on pads designed to spread the load.

A couple of hours later and the platform has reached the other shore. In order not to puncture the self-sealing Bentomat geosynthetic clay lining of the pond, the six pairs of legs rest on pads designed to spread the load.

It is anticipated that the platform will get plenty of use by school groups (and others) visiting the farm in term time and from visitors to school holiday activity mornings, as well as on the farm’s 2015 open day on Sunday 7th June, which will take the form of a Festival of Farming, Food and Wildlife. Successful dippers to all such events will be able to examine their catches in the education room located in the nearby dairy building.

The next morning, there was a hard frost but the workmen had departed and there was no need for wading in these icy conditions. The pond was created in May 2011, shortly after the new dairy opened, and is fed by rainwater from the dairy's 2,500 square metre roof. The pond was deliberately left to stock itself, which it quickly did.

A photo taken the next morning, showing the presence of a hard frost. Fortunately, the workmen had departed and there was no need for wading in these icy conditions. The pond was created in May 2011, shortly after the new dairy opened, and is fed by rainwater from the dairy’s 2,500 square metre roof. The pond was deliberately left to stock itself, which it quickly did.



Two days later, the weather was positively balmy and the blue sky was reflected in the now undisturbed waters of the pond.

Two days after the installation of the platform, the weather had changed again and looked positively balmy. Pond-dippers may analyse their catch in the education room, located to the left of the dairy’s clock tower.

2014 Autumn/Winter bird survey

by Rod Kebble

The monitoring group conducted its eighth annual Autumn/Winter bird survey on 10th and 15th November.

The results of the survey by transect begin here and the updated species list is shown here.

Salient points to emerge from the survey are that there were more species observed than in the past two years but fewer numbers of the more common species — except woodpigeon and jackdaw. A woodcock was seen for only the second time on a scheduled survey (though others have been sighted in Tankersford Wood at other times), while collared dove and mandarin were seen for the first time during a winter survey.