FRIDAY 19TH MAY 2017
ALL WICK COURT FARMERS RETURNED SAFELY THIS MORNING AT 11.20AM. A HUGE THANK YOU TO MR THOMPSON, MISS WOLSTENHOLME, MISS NICHOLLS AND MR DARGIE FOR THEIR TIME, COMMITMENT AND DEDICATION THROUGHOUT THE WEEK. A SPECIAL MENTION TO THE SUPERB WICK COURT FARMERS TOO. WHAT AN OUTSTANDING BUNCH THEY WERE THIS YEAR. ALL ARE NOW AT HOME RESTING, BATHING AND SLEEPING!
Thursday 18th May
Good evening one and all!
Below you will find the latest and final instalments of our Wick Court 2017 diary. We hope that you have enjoyed reading it and also looking at the photographs. We are sure that the children will have heaps to tell you on your return and they have once again been a real credit to you and the school. It has been a fantastic week of new experiences and one which will be remembered very positively. On Friday, we will be departing the farm between 9-9.30am and anticipate being back in Aylesbury around about the 11am mark. We could be slightly earlier or later, so please allow for this. We will disembark the coach in Cole Road and would ask you to wait until the coach has been fully unloaded before leaving with your child as there will be several items for you to collect. Their suitcases, wellies and shop items will all be unloaded separately, so please ensure that everything is taken to avoid a massive pile of unclaimed property.
Many thanks - we will look forward to seeing you all tomorrow.
Group one have had a fantastic day today; one which will hopefully remain in their fond memories for a long time to come. We began the day with feeding tasks around Wick Court, making sure that all of the animals were well and ready for a beautiful day. After the deluges of yesterday, it was wonderful to see the animals (and children… and staff) enjoying the fair weather once more. The children were all on good form and were able to select and weigh the foods with complete independence.
We fed the ‘dragon’ its breakfast for the last time. Riley J is still very curious to find out where the actual fire-breathing creature is, so I hope that this is something he will always wonder when he thinks about Wick Court. Jamie was an expert ‘turner’ for the dragon, a job which requires a lot of strength when so much food is being composted. Summer and Olivia needed pegs for their noses when emptying the bags of food into it, and Uthman just couldn’t stand the smell!!
After breakfast, we continued our jobs in and around Wick Court’s 140 acres. As it was our last time, farmer Dave let us do the rounds of all of the animals, so that the children could say their goodbyes. Andrea, Sienna and Uthman did a sterling job of collecting the eggs today, although they were disappointed not to have found any ‘jelly’ eggs today! On our rounds, the children had to feed the sheep as well and Olivia developed her muscles by carrying extra buckets of food for those children who were flagging! Shannon still wants to be a ‘farmer-actress’ when she is older, so we have suggested that she aims for a part in Emmerdale Farm when she grows up!
During the afternoon, all of the groups got together for Wick Court’s woodland experience. Here, we were able to sit around the camp fire in the round house, build dens, make ornaments from clay and weave using wool from the Ryland sheep on the farm. We were also treated to some stories from the resident professional storyteller, Bill, who has also visited us at Ashmead to entertain us. It was a fitting end to the trip and brilliant to see the children working so well together.
Rain turned into clear blue sky thankfully this morning and we were even able to see that large orangey yellow thing up in the sky. Lovely. What’s not so lovely was the realisation that today would be our last full day here at WCF. The rule states that all good things must come to an end and they certainly don’t bend them for Wick Court. So, one last blast around the courtyard to feed Tamworth Pigs and their housemates, the Tamworth/Gloucester Old Spot cross. Charlie was keen to give them a proper breakfast so dived into the pig feed boxes (upon instruction from Farmer Mel) and scooped away. Leo decided that the Light Sussex chickens would receive his expert feeding and calm nature this morning which they highly appreciated. If chickens could tip, Leo would have had more than his 10%, that’s for sure.
Casanova the bull and his girlfriend (cue giggles…) were up next for the Group 2 feeding experience. Careful Chloe made sure they had enough to last them through the day. The sheep gave us a disapproving stare and we’re pretty sure some of them started tapping their feet and tut-tutting. Not to worry dear sheep, as Niamh was on hand to err... hand out what is probably the sheep version of 2 sausages, 2 toast, beans, 2 eggs, 2 bacon and a fried slice. The Buff Orpingtons looked on through their fence knowing it must be their turn next. They’re a clever bunch and so is Demi – so it was just as well that she fed them. A brief good bye (short and sharp are easier to handle) before all of us squeezed into an enormous tree, which also occasionally turns itself into a maternity ward for dogs – Farmer Mel’s latest dogs were delivered there, apparently.
Due to popular demand and with plenty of luck with the timetable, we said farewell to Cuckoo, Hugo, Jack and Mulan. A few holes of poo golf were played with Connor, Daniel and Niamh shooting 3 under par. Joanna loved walking Cuckoo back to the stables, with Leo and Jack (human) giving him a top notch groom afterwards. Sophie made sure Jack (horse) was well looked after and when we had finished with them, those horses looked even more magnificent than usual.
That signalled the end of our outdoor jobs for the day because we needed to make sure that we had plenty of time for DEN BUILDING IN THE WOODS! I would happily stay in all of the dens that the children made – it was pretty impressive what they managed to pull together out of wood, string and tarpaulin. We then turned our attention to some inside jobs, namely eating vast amounts of tomato and pasta,
stuffing everything into packing our suitcases neatly, hot chocolate, bed time snack and sleep. With that, we will close the most recent and final chapter of the WCF 2017 experience.
See you very soon.
Leo, Sophie, Demi, Jack, Charlie, Connor, Oliver, Joanna, Daniel, Niamh, Chloe, Sienna and Mr Dargie.
Picture Cinderella, sweeping away, polishing the floor with the windows open and the birds circling above her. The mice helping her scrub the floors and the horse brushing away outside. Well the children discovered that housework isn’t quite like a Disney movie and none of that actually happens. We cleaned the kitchen, the parlour and outside (How many kids does it take to water a plant? Three it turns out.) first thing in the morning.
Once we had our breakfast, we were on our way to Oldbury for one final farm task. We fed the new born calves for the last time (I never though calves would be as cute as they are up close) and then carried on our feeding duties for the rest of the cows. Jorja helped put the water together, whilst Ruby and Hollie helped feed milk to the newborns. Kayla, Jorja and Jack helped feed buckets of food to the slightly older calves. Once this had occurred, the lovely Farmer Sally and Farmer Tim showed us how the milking machine works. It is so clever and very high tec! Joe and Alfie had some excellent questions about the machine. We watched in awe as three cows were milked and Farmer Tim took us through all of the different things that the machine can do. We ran back from Oldbury through the fields in the glorious sunshine.
After lunch, with the sun still shining, Heather took the whole group to the roundhouse. The children were allowed to complete any woodland activities of their choice: weaving, den making, bug hunting, art or sculpting clay. It was a particular highlight of the trip. Riley, Hollie, Ruby, Joe and Chhayank did some excellent den building. We couldn’t test if it was waterproof, but I think after yesterday this was actually a good thing (the memory of being absolutely soaked all day long is still fresh in our minds!).
After time running around in the fresh air, we had story time. We were told some amazing stories from Bill the Storyteller (this is a real job – seriously). At the halfway point, Sally and Farmer John handed out apple juice (no one can say we weren’t well fed or watered during this trip), as we listened intently to the second story. Jack and Jacob were particularly engaged with the pirate story!
It was the perfect way to end a wonderful trip… Sunshine, stories and a campfire.
P.s. The kiddies are now packing and showering (we will hand them back clean, promise) all in preparation for seeing you tomorrow! They are very excited to see you all but also clearly a bit sad that this week has flown by. Be prepared for some amazing stories and some long reunion hugs tomorrow!
The old saying ‘Nice weather for ducks’ has certainly been an appropriate one today, as for most of the day the rain has poured down continuously. However, spirits have remained high and the children have seen, first hand, that farming must continue, whatever the weather (even if they do have to get wet in the process).
We had an early start today, setting off at 7.30am to feed the animals in the Wick Court stable yard. These included the pigs, chickens and horses. Most of the animals were happily staying out of the rain, apart from the pigs, who seemed to be having a great time. We helped herd some sheep from a field into the cover of one of the hay barns, and lost a lamb along the way! With some teamwork, though, the children were able to return it to its rightful place.
After breakfast, which today was natural yoghurt, home-made granola, fruit and Wick Court honey, we returned to the stable yard with Mel, our morning farmer. What was so lovely is that, now we have really settled in, the children knew exactly what tasks had to be done, without having to be told. It just goes to show how important the seven days are in helping the children develop independence to this level. After mucking out the stables, the children had a quiz with Mel in one of the barns, as the horses were just too wet to be groomed.
Before lunch, the long-awaited trip to the Wick Court shop took place. It is a veritable bazaar of treasures, and the children made some good purchases, which we are keeping safe until we return to Ashmead on Friday. Many of you are in for a real treat, as, besides some of the souvenirs they have bought you, a number of children have also ordered bacon, sausages and boxes of eggs from the farm too! All good for a special Saturday morning breakfast (if you can wake them up early enough after their mammoth week).
Lunch today was shepherd’s pie, followed by a fruit crumble- a hearty meal for a cold and wet day. All plates, needless to say, were cleared! Once our tummies were replenished, the next task of the day involved pig weighing. This involved a great deal of teamwork and took a few attempts to get right. The aim was to encourage a pig at a time into a cage which is also a weighing scale. Once they had been shown what to do, the children were then left to sort out weighing the ten pigs individually without our help, using boards (like shields) to direct them. Sienna Price stood out as an incredibly agile pig-weigher and had no escapees whatsoever. During this activity, we also ducked in and out of another barn to avoid the rain- during which time Dave, another of the farmers, got the children doing some maths to work out how much profit was earned on each pig that was sold by the farm. It turned out to be less than £20.00 per pig after all expenses were taken off.
We returned to the art room during the afternoon to continue the work that we started on Monday and then after dinner (wraps with various fillings), went to put the animals to bed on the farm and collect the eggs. Between them, Lucy, Summer and Tyler collected eleven eggs. One of the eggs was missing its hard shell and the children were fascinated by it. So fascinated in fact that, after all wanting to feel how much like jelly it was, it burst and had to be fed to the pigs – who were very grateful for an extra bedtime snack.
Dairy milking machines have apparently been knocking about since 1938. Since then, vast changes have been made and we were standing in front of pretty much all of them at the milking machine over at Oldbury Dairy Farm this very morning. We are talking the Rolls Royce of milking machines here folks. Cows are electronically scanned, washed, fed and milked all by highly sophisticated robots from Sweden. Impressive stuff and not cheap either.
The smaller cows, however, can’t quite manage the glitz and the glamour of this fancy Cow Hotel so still need a helping hand from us human beans as the BFG might say. Charlie helped Heather to collect some feed for the teenager cows from a mountain of feed twice the height of Charlie. Chloe whisked up the milk and was a real champion at it considering it was her first time.
Now, today was particularly wet and there was only one place outside that was truly covered from the rain. That place was called the poly tunnel in the garden. Luckily for Group 2 that is exactly where we would find ourselves for a couple of hours. We very quickly (some would say instantly) grew very fond of gardening indeed. Gardener Tim needed some help planting tomatoes so we decided we should lend a hand, or rather, a trowel. Turns out we were pretty good at this and we learnt a top tip for growing tomatoes – always try and plant a marigold next to it, as this will help kill off tomato eating bugs – I think Joanna wants to try this out when she gets back home. Connor certainly looked like he was a natural – Tim double checked to see if he actually had green fingers. Once we planted the toms, which would eventually end up on another school group plate, we helped Tim to pick all of the fresh peas and then clear up the old tree. Charlie and Oliver were very keen to pick the biggest and fattest peas, putting in plenty of effort to do so but we thought they were just nudged into second place by a whopper (not the BK type) found by Sophie – well done you. All of this work and we were still completely dry – result!
Back at base, the children really enjoyed opening their letters and it was wonderful to see so many happy faces when they found out a little bit of news back home. The only bad news was that Chelsea had won the league, other than that, it was a very positive experience for all. The pigs were obviously not Chelsea fans either, as they were making a right old racket outside. So Demi, Jack and Daniel fed them to take their minds off the results and make them think how a half-decent goalkeeper, a midfield general and a jack-in-the-box type striker might increase Liverpool’s chances of pushing for honours next season.
Next, we checked in on our favourite new twins – Ash and Mead who were still looking pretty fragile but were now up on their feet looking for food from their mum. Fingers crossed they keep growing and growing so that we could see them again in 2018. To help us keep growing and growing, we meandered over towards the chickens for some protein capsules. Niamh collected from the magnificent looking Buff Orpingtons and Sienna collected from the Light Sussex – 14 in total, so Group 2 are in for a right feast tomorrow morning. I just hope that Groups 1 and 3 also found something to eat?
All the very best,
The day started with Group 3 watching Group 1 herd sheep. Meanwhile, Harlan was chasing an odd sheep that had come out of the field and was wandering about anywhere and everywhere! After this, we went to let out the chickens and fed them. It was a bit wet today, so the chickens didn’t really want to come out of their cosy coops! Also, we needed to move the chickens because it had become really muddy! We found out that chickens don’t like mud on their feet as it makes them sore, so we moved their coop onto a grassier patch of land… Obviously, we had some adult help with the heavy lifting!
Once we had fed the chickens, we were drenched! But we soldiered on and went to feed the lambs. Our task was to push two wheelbarrows (one carrying 20kg of stock nuts and the other 40kg) up to the sheep field, without any help! Unfortunately for us, we decided to go straight through a massive puddle! Where we found it hard to manoeuvre out, until Joe came along and helped us out of the deep mud pile that we had gotten ourselves into.
Next, we cleaned out the old duck shed where Jacob, Tilly, Chhayank and Riley B pushed wheelbarrows full of dirty wood shavings out ready for its new occupiers! The turkeys and the lonesome cockerel, who was getting beaten up by his brother! After Ruby and Kayla had made sure the floor was clear, Hollie helped farmer John to bring over the new wood shavings. Then Joe, Felicity, Alfie, Jack R and Jacob did a good job at spreading out the new shavings. It turns out we are better at herding Turkeys than we are sheep! We made a horseshoe around them, so that they would go in the direction of their new home. Just before Supper, we had a fun little history lesson with farmer John about the barn and were allowed to sit on the hay bales.
Our final activity of the evening, was Oldbury farm where we fed the newest of the baby calves who was born on Sunday! Chhayank, Joe, Riley B, Ruby, Jorja, Tilly, Jacob and Hollie fed the other calves using calf milk. We also learned about how the cattle are fed maize and grass during the time that they are waiting to be milked. We have had a brilliant day despite getting soaking wet!
Tuesday 16th May
Group 1 began the day today with a spot of housework; cleaning, dusting, sweeping and laying up for breakfast. As they were so efficient, they gained some bonus free time too!
Breakfast today consisted of the usual cereal and porridge, with the addition of beautiful Wick Court sausages, beans and toast: a real feast to fuel us all for the morning.
Our next activity was to make our final trip to the milking parlour at Oldbury Farm. Today, the children were able to witness the technical wizardry of 21st century automated milking robots, which are able to milk the 700+ cows there without the need for human assistance. The children watched, agog, as the machine did its work – which included automatic washing, disinfecting, measuring, feeding and even an electric back scratcher!! They had many questions to ask; so many, in fact, that we were nearly late back for break!!
Following on from break, we donned aprons and went to make pizzas (with accompanying side salads) for tea with the Wick Court cooks. The children were experts at measuring, mixing and needing the dough for the pizza bases. Uthman was especially skilled at kneading- a pro in the making!
As the weather has not been very kind to us today (not that it has dampened any spirits), we were unable to go and do beekeeping after lunch as the bees like rain less than we do! We therefore went to the Quentin Blake art room, where the children produced some posters to advertise upcoming events at Wick Court. Although all of the work was really imaginative, Sienna, Jamie and Andrea really stood out as outstanding artists today.
Luckily, the weather had cleared up enough for us to go and do some bird watching before tea. Isla was the resident bird-expert and managed to identify the most birds using her binoculars. The most amusing of her sightings had to be a ‘clock-owl,’ which she in fact meant to call a cuckoo! At the time of writing (6.30pm), the children have just demolished the pizzas and salads that they made for tea and are now having early showers before hot chocolate and bedtime. We are currently being entertained by Shannon, Andrea, Aspen and Sienna who are giving us an impromptu concert while waiting for the showers to come free!
Yesterday, the pigs were simply a warm up. Today was the real deal. Farmer John tasked our budding young farmers with manoeuvring 212 sheep across two fields. Like Farmer Dave yesterday, Farmer John gave the children some tactics and off they went. Once we had all worked out what a straight line looked like (Farmer John decided the best way was for them to hold hands) the group marched all 212 sheep to their new home. At the very end, Farmer John’s dog, who is strangely enough called Niamh, showed us some of her skills at rounding up the last few. A job well done. Charlie, Oliver and Niamh (human version) were naturals. Considering it was their first time, they impressed Farmer John with their teamwork and determination – they got the job done, which was the main objective. Well done Group 2. At roughly this point, your narrator also had a very close encounter with one of our four legged friends from the stables but I shall let Group 3 provide you with how things looked from their perspective a little later on.
Herding is hungry work so a breakfast of Wick Court Farm sausages went down well, thank you very much. Which is just as well as we needed plenty of energy for bird watching and bee keeping. First we donned our Ghostbusters inspired bee keeping outfits and headed out to see the very friendly Wick Court bees. There are thousands of them. Thankfully, they aren’t interested us as they have far more important jobs to do like help pollinate areas of the Wick Court Garden. Farmer Heather let us hold up a section of the bee hive – Leo displayed some steady hands here (which I was more than pleased about seeing as I was standing next to him at this point) as did Jack and Joanna.
Onto slightly larger flying objects now where Farmer Bill was our bird watching guide. Armed with binoculars, reference books and a ‘zooming in machine’ (telescope) we headed off to the fields to see exactly what is flying above our heads here at WCF. Plenty, as it turns out and thankfully we had Bill to explain to us exactly what those flying objects were. In a short space of time we saw roughly 26 different varieties of birds with a woodpecker being the star of the show.
As you can probably tell, we had another busy day here but still managed time to knock up some handmade pizzas with all of the children allowed to ‘personalise their pizza’. Some had plenty of personality, that’s for sure. Like the pizzas, the wonderful cows over at Oldbury have lots of character, especially this little’uns – Connor, Sienna and Chloe were on feeding duty with Demi, Sophie and Daniel ensuring all of the 120+ cows in Oldbury’s ‘Cow Hotel’ had enough grass to last them through until Wednesday, which is when we’ll update you next.
We started off the morning with Mel, who we had not worked with before. Mel showed us how to feed the horses and (since we are now experts) we also fed the chickens. Mel also let us have a sneaky peak at the 12 hour old lambs. Three words to describe the lambs were ‘cute’, ‘tiny’ and ‘fragile’ (words given by co-writer Tilly).
After a delicious breakfast (‘I liked the sausages and I don’t really like sausages but they were really nice - Tilly’), we met up with Mel to go to the stables. We were experts at cleaning out the stables and manoeuvring the poo onto ‘poo mountain’ (‘That poo mountain is hilarious!’ – Ruby …. another co-writer of the blog). Mel let us actually get to meet the horses (‘My favourite was Cuckoo’ – Ruby and Tilly, ‘My favourite was Hugo’ – by third co-writer Hollie). Thanks to us, Mr Dargie then had a very shocking life encounter with Jack to horse. ‘I’ve never seen Mr Dargie move so fast,’ laughed Ruby.
‘Jack the horse, he used to be a horse jumper, was running towards the open gate. Then Mr Dargie was near the gate trying to let the sheep in. Jack came galloping towards him, so Mel yelled to him to shut the gate. As he was doing so, Mel happened to mention that Jack likes to jump the gates [Jack is the tallest thoroughbred in the stables and weighs a tonne]. Mr Dargie then ran off after the shutting the gate. It was hilarious. It was the fastest I have ever seen him move!’ Account by Ruby and Tilly.
The group then had a moment of calm when they were allowed to brush Mulan and Hugo, the less excitable horses. ‘You know like in films when dogs and horses rub their noses together, it was like that with Hugo,’ exclaimed Tilly (the kids have way better accounts of the day than I do!).
At the same time Group 3 were brushing the horses, Group 2 were making their way down the track herding sheep yet needed a little assistance from Mel who was directing the infamous Stinky to where he should be (he was more interested in making friends with our new best friends Hugo and Mulan). All in all it was a very exciting morning indeed!
Before lunch, we went bird watching and were lucky enough to see 13 different types of bird. It was interesting and we learned how to use binoculars (including using the focus lens). We were able to use the handy guide book to tell us what birds we had found. Jack R was particularly interested in the bird watching, as well as Chhayank knowing some interesting facts about some of the birds.
In the afternoon, we made a delicious pizzas using a variety of different toppings including: pepperoni, chicken, sweetcorn, pepper and mushroom. We then ate them for supper with a side salad. Unfortunately, our afternoon activity had to be changed due to the weather so we made posters for Wick Court Farm’s open day in June (11th from 10am – 1pm). Alfie, Ruby and Tilly worked particularly hard on their posters – brilliant job!
Monday 15th May
Group 1 have had an incredibly busy day today and the children all went out like lights at bed time! We began the day with the early morning feeding ritual around Wick Court; letting animals out of their pens, collecting the eggs (only two turkey eggs this morning) and making sure that all of the animals were fed.
By the time all of this was done, the children were very much in need of their own breakfasts! The cereal, porridge, croissants and fruit gave the children much needed energy for the ‘mammoth’ task of the day, which was to move 22 sheep across the farm from fields at opposite ends. These sheep were young ewes, not expected to lamb so early. However, after the group 1 children discovered a premature lamb on Saturday, which had sadly not survived, the whole flock needed to be checked out. The entire group demonstrated outstanding teamwork throughout the task, with Harlan leading the flock and the other eleven children creating ‘walls’ to make sure the unruly sheep went where they were supposed to. Thanks to our expert children, all of the sheep went from A to B with no escapees whatsoever – no mean feat!
After a scrumptious meal, it was time to head back out onto the farm. This time, the children were tasked with digging up some very large thistles in one of the horse paddocks. In order to get rid of the weeds completely, they had to dig very deep to prise up the roots. Because of the largely dry weather of late, this wasn’t an easy job – but once again the children showed a great deal of perseverance and ingenuity, and managed to clear the field of the weeds. We are sure that they will all be experts in looking after their own lawns from now on!! Aspen, Summer and Isla sang for the entire time they were weeding and provided light entertainment for everyone.
Our evening meal followed on from some free time after gardening, and straight after this we headed off to Oldbury Farm for our final job of the day. We finally were shown the artificial insemination process for cows, which the children had heard so much about from the other groups. Needless to say, their speechless reactions said it all! They have certainly gained so much of an insight into the circle of life. Following this, the children were fortunate enough to meet a six-hour-old calf, which Jamie christened ‘Charlie.’ We were the first group to see it and the children were astonished by the fact that it could already walk and had its eyes open. Once again, an amazing learning experience!
On our journey back, Olivia was admiring the view and I asked her which river she could see. To this she replied, “The river Nile,” before remembering that the Nile is in fact in Egypt! It was, however, a lovely moment of innocence and now it will always be remembered when I pass by the river Severn!
“It’s just another manic Monday”. Not my words, but the words of that classic 80’s band, The Bangles. In fact, this day will be pretty hard to match for most of our group, I should imagine.
The not so manic Hugo the 90+ year old horse needed his room cleaned before anyone else this morning, certainly before those whippernsapper stable mates of his. Jack, Cuckoo and Mulan waited patiently whilst we played horse poo putting, filled up the feed bags and checked that the wood chip carpets were up to standard. The children were keen to show off their work so Leo, Connor, Sienna and Sophie were picked to lead our horses back into their stables – a great first experience for all. Farmer Mel told us that horses loved to be groomed and fussed over, something that our group were very keen to get involved with. I can safely say that the horses were a big hit with the children – Leo received a special mention from Farmer Mel who was highly with his handling skills of Jack - an incredibly large horse.
Post lunch, Farmer Dave really put our budding young farmers through their paces and so did his not so little group of pigs – they too, were raring to go. We’ve all heard of the ‘herding cats’ phrase, well, I think pigs were just pipped to the post on that one. You wouldn’t necessarily think it, but they are the slippery bathroom soap of the farming world. Contrary to popular belief, pigs are rather vain and are particularly good at voting with their feet (rapidly) when it comes to being weighed. This is where the children came in. Farmer Dave gave them some boards, some tactics and a thumbs up before the children were tasked with weighing the Tamworths.
During the prolonged first attempt – I quickly realised I was watching my new favourite spectator sport. Farmer Dave elegantly steps in with some more tactics and re-emphasised the power of teamwork. Dave steps away and up steps Niamh and Oliver who demonstrated an innate ability to figure out where pigs are about to run. Sienna somehow still managed to write on a chalkboard amidst the chaos with Demi providing game winning tactics. These pigs weren’t having quite so much fun now and slowly realised they were all going to be weighed, no matter how long it took. Thankfully for them, they weren’t quite heavy enough so plenty more fattening up over the next few weeks. I would call the pig herding a close 1-1 draw.
Our last task of the day was a routine check to see that all of the stable yard animals had been taken care of. We were nearly at the end of our rounds when Mel wanted to check in on a sheep that she had been a bit concerned about for the last few days. To have a thorough check, Mel used an arm length rubber glove which was very, very similar in appearance to the glove that Farmer David had used the previous day. This sheep was pretty big so your Group 2 leader was tasked with holding our patient down whilst Mel conducted her check-up. After ten minutes, Mel still wasn’t finished and at this point, your narrator was informed that the sheep had gone into labour. For what seemed like an eternity (30 mins) the children looked on in absolute amazement for Mel to deliver two little twins right in front of their eyes. During the process, the children were excellent at keeping a calm atmosphere and fetching hay, barriers and food for the newest family at Wick Court – quite an incredible experience and certainly a manic Monday.
Feeling proud and privileged,
Group 2 and the twins – Born: approx. 18:45, Weight: I have absolutely no idea, Names: ‘Ash’ and ‘Mead’ (as christened by Farmer Mel).
Until tomorrow everyone.
Unfortunately, we have not been very lucky with the weather today, however we have enjoyed our day despite this! Firstly, we had time to do some housework (Yes we have been tidying up! No excuses at home now…) and after this was completed we had some free time. The favourite activity for Group 3 was basketball, although some of us were still tired from our eventful day yesterday!
After breakfast, we made our way back to Oldbury farm. Not quite as eventful as seeing artificial insemination but still exciting after hearing one of the cows was in labour. Hopefully, we get to see the new born baby calf on Wednesday, when we go back there! Kayla was the lucky one who mixed up the milk for the one month old calves and then Chhayank, Jorja, Tilly and Jack R put the milk into the feeding bins. Every time they tried to put the milk in, the calves were pushing the feeding bins becoming rather impatient for their food!
Once we had eaten lunch, we were on gardening duty. We had the task of ‘tucking in’ the potatoes and making sure they had a warm enough bed. The children learned that they were doing this so that the roots would grow long enough to produce potatoes. Felicity and Tilly were great at pushing the wheelbarrows, Ruby, Jacob and Jorja were very good at spreading the soil, whilst Riley B, Jack R and Kayla spread the straw. Lastly, Joe and Hollie had the last job of spreading the sawdust. Chhayank has found his forte in gardening, even Heather was impressed and said she would have him working in her garden any day!
For our final task of the day, we went to feed the animals. We fed the pigs, the bull (Casanova), the ducks and the geese. We also fed the chickens, who were two different breeds; Light Sussex and Buff Orpington’s. Jack R collected 11 eggs from the Light Sussex chickens and Hollie collected 4 eggs from the Buff Orpington’s. When we got back from the farm, we had a bit of free time where we taught Chhayank the ‘Watch me (Whip nae nae)’ dance before heading for showers. This evening, we have been chilled, with Miss Nicholls and Miss Wolstenholme reading us Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams (Thanks Hollie for the suggestion!). By the time this is posted on the website, we will all be fast asleep...hopefully!
Sunday 14 th May
Group 1 have had a very busy day today, working from 7.30am to 7.30pm – only stopping for well-deserved meal breaks. We started the day by feeding the various animals in the vicinity of the farmhouse, including the chickens, geese, ducks and cows. The children are now getting used to weighing out the amounts of food for the animals by themselves and are already becoming far more independent. After a delicious breakfast of boiled eggs and toast, we continued our farm tasks by mucking out the Wick Court horses and then grooming them. After some initial fears, once farmer Mel had shown the children what to do, they continued like pros. The horses really did look like champions after they had finished brushing them. We learned that even the Queen has an interest in Wick Court’s horses, as she offered to buy one at the Royal Windsor show last year. She liked it so much that she bought another six!! Riley Jacobs also is keen to get in on the action, and offered £1000 for one of the horses – which he is planning to live with in a field at home. The transaction should be done by the end of the week; expect a delivery soon.
After an amazing 2 mile walk, where we were joined by Mrs Govier, Mrs Bounds and co., the children assisted with a round-up of the sheep, chickens and pigs. It was magical to watch them experiencing the freedom in a field of ewes and lambs, where they spent at least half an hour stroking, herding, feeding and getting to know these curious, woolly creatures. Aspen discovered that she has a knack for sheep whispering!
At the end of what has been a glorious day, we said a sad farewell to Mrs Thompson, who is returning to work at Ashmead tomorrow – but who has had a thoroughly lovely time with us for the last two days.
7 hours! That’s all and they could stand, walk, see and feed. We are of course talking about the newest members of Oldbury Dairy Farm where Group 2 started their second full day of their Wick Court experience. Two calves, who were born at 3am this morning, were finding their feet and, more importantly, milk with us lot looking on as their audience. For their older brothers and sisters, we prepared their grub – even at their age, they can tuck plenty away. Leo, Joanna and Jack made sure the calves got a healthy feed. Niamh demonstrated her memory skills in front of Farmer Dave and Tim, whilst Oliver displayed a healthy knowledge of all things tractor related – a future chosen specialist subject on Mastermind perhaps? With the priority 1’s fed, it was time for the priority 2’s – hard boiled eggs and toast were plated up for us and I was particularly impressed with Connor for trying something new.
As I’m sure you’re aware, Wick Court is a working farm and not The Holiday Inn. As a result, we need to clean up after ourselves. Being a caring bunch (it was our turn on the rota), we cleaned up after Group 3 and Group 1 carefully negotiating a weird stick with brushes on the end of it (broom) and a plastic plate with a giant toothbrush stuck in it (dustpan and brush). Chloe, Daniel, Demi and Sophie made the cobbles sparkle with Charlie making the tables shine. They did a fantastic job which meant a little extra free time to see Sienna demonstrate a cartwheeling master class before we welcomed back Groups 1 and 3 from the farm.
Keeping up with traditions here on the farm meant a well-deserved Sunday roast for all. The lamb and stuffing proved clear favourites for the author of this group and judging by most of the plates, the other members of the group did too. Always good to see decent appetites. Bellies full, it was time to walk all or at least some of it off along the banks of the River Severn, up through buttercup filled meadows waving to the cows and trying our best to get lost in lush long grass. A large stick and a little sting from the nettles were considered badges of honour for our young farmers – I think most collected certainly one, some maybe two…
Seeing as we walked all of our lunch away, we felt it perfectly reasonable to replace that gap with some DIY (beef/egg/cheese/salad) rolls and fruit for afters. Following a clean up, shower time, hot chocolate and bit of reading/colouring/Pokemon Vs Minions debate (the jury is still out, but Daniel put up a very credible case for the Pokemon tribe), it was time to call it a day – and what a good one it was too.
We started the morning by meeting one of Wick Court’s VIP’s, ‘Stinky’. Stinky is best friends with the Duchess of Cambridge and is now besties with Kayla. Stinky (a new born lamb that had a few ‘touch and go’ moments when born) was bottle fed by Kayla, whilst the others ran around and met the rest of the sheep. Heather, who is the Wick Court Farm guru, took us around the farm feeding the animals and letting them out for the morning. Unfortunately for Tilly, who was on egg duty, we had no chicken eggs. We did, however, collect four gigantic turkey eggs.
After breakfast (boiled eggs and soldiers), we met up with Heather and finished a job that Group 2 couldn’t complete yesterday (a bit of healthy competition between the groups may have occurred). We had to move a pile of woodchip out of the cow field. Joe proved excellent at helping with the task, he was powering through. He put us to shame! After two rounds we had been successful in our quest (and we beat Group 2!).
After an amazing lunch (which was Chhayank’s first ever roast dinner – he loved it), we went on a two and a half hour walk around the fields. The children loved rolling down the hills and trying to predict which way to go. We took some lovely pictures of them in the fields (hopefully if the internet is ok we will be able to load them!). Chhayank was asked why he wanted to come on the trip (by Jacob today) and he had a lovely response of ‘to have farm experience’. Which, quite frankly, we are having in abundance.
Once we had eaten (again – this time sandwiches), we were on our way to Oldbury. The children had heard a lot about Oldbury from the other groups (we were the last to go), so they were very excited. We were able to let them run around again (they are going to sleep so well tonight, we hope!), on the walk to the field. Oldbury farm is a dairy farm and we had heard from Group 2 that a calf had been born in the early hours of the morning. The calf was tiny and adored by all of the kids. Possibly one of our favourite moments of all time happened when Farmer David told us that if the calf is born backwards it can be a difficult birth. Of which Joe replied, ‘Does it come out of their mouth?’ Once we had clarified where a calf comes out of, we were fortunate enough for Farmer David to show the children an artificial insemination. The children were very respectful of the heifer and were quiet during the process, listening to the explanation carefully. Joe, Jacob, Jack and Tilly all asked very intelligent and suitable questions once the process had taken place. Whilst Ruby, Felicity and Jorja observed in fascination (or horror …?).
Once this moment had occurred, and the children were all of a sudden a little bit quieter (we think in shell shock of what they had just seen), we went to go and explore the other areas of the farm. We made the milk and fed a few week old calves. Jacob mixed the milk and Alfie, Chhayank, Kayla and Riley Brookes helped feed the calves. At the end of the dairy farm exploration, Farmer Dave asked the children what the breeds of cows were. He had to inform Hollie that the breed was not a ‘Hostile Freezer’ but instead it was a holiesten freisher. Close …. So close …
Saturday 13th May
For lunch today, we filled our tummies up with pasta bolognaise. The food here is certainly plentiful and gives us all the necessary energy for the variety of energetic tasks carried out throughout the day. Straight after a little bit of ‘free time’ we headed over to feed the dragon (an enormous compost maker). Gardener Tim was extremely impressed with the group’s enthusiasm towards learning about what happens to the food we don’t eat. Summer was not keen on the ‘dragon’ to start with but soon got stuck in (whilst holding her nose!).
Next, we headed to the garden to plant some tomato plants. Harlan and Andrea loved discovering the worms buried in the soil. Olivia was the keenest gardener of us all planting a total of 3 tomato plants, with Jamie, Aspen and some others planting extra plants too. We feel sure that your gardens will be in good hands when the children return – Isla is already planning to plant some flowers when she gets home!
Before supper, Farmer Christie showed us how to carry out all the necessary stable yard feeding. This included rams, pigs, chickens, sheep, cows, ducks and geese. Summer and Uthman showed themselves to be excellent poultry farmers; being able to collect eggs while directing the chickens and ducks into their night time accommodation. Shannon speedily rounded up all of the geese and put them to bed for the night. Sienna, Riley, Uthman and Tyler found out the hard way that large buckets of water can have a habit of spilling all down their legs- but they soon dried out! We are all looking forward very much to a well-deserved night’s sleep and to what Sunday will bring…
Animals are more important here than us humans, which is why they were fed before us this morning – certain members of our group are still coming to terms with this change, but I am sure will be fully up to speed as the week moves forward. We met the composting dragon who, thanks to his bad breath, was trying to put as many of us off our as yet uneaten breakfast. Daniel was heroic in his efforts to ‘feed the dragon’ and as such, was awarded with a new pair of overalls from Farmer John.
Once we took care of the chickens (Jack), pigs (Leo) and had a tidy up of the stable yard, we headed back for our own breakfast where we ate some of the food produced by the farm itself, and in particular, the garden. Funnily enough, Gardener Tim picked us up after breakfast and we helped him dig ‘mountains’ ready for new crops and gave us a chance to sample peas which were a) not in a bag and b) fully defrosted. Every member of our group proved themselves to be excellent diggers and eaters of peas – Tim was very impressed (with a special mention for Niamh and Sophie).
In the afternoon, Farmer Christie showed us how to ‘drive’ wheelbarrows, clean out the goose house and feed sheep. Joanna displayed some confident wheelbarrow skills, especially for a first timer, and Connor mastered the art of his three point turn. The team showed excellent teamwork and group skills throughout the whole day - Farmer Christie and I were so impressed. Christie was also pleased with how well they cleaned out the goose house – not an easy task for sure! We also helped Farmer Christie manoeuvre a wandering sheep back to their field – again, we were very proud with how the children worked as a team – Sienna, Charlie, Oliver, Demi, Chloe and Connor provided a great barrier for the rest of the sheep whilst we snuck ‘the runner’ back to where they belonged.
Our day was rounded off by walking across the picturesque field of buttercups and cows towards Oldbury Farm, where we ensured all of the cows had enough grass to keep them producing the milk that we drink. Farmer John even let us name some of our favourite cows which we look forward to spotting later on in future visits. At the other end of the scale, we learnt how to feed calves and how incredibly excited they can get when they see milk coming towards them. Speaking of which, it reminded me of how children react to hot chocolate before bedtime, so without further delay, we strolled back over the hill, passing the horse, cows and buttercups towards our beds. See you tomorrow everyone.
Group 3’s day started off with an energetic walk around the farm at 7.30am. We let the chickens out to roam, fed the pigs, chickens and sheep. We then came in to eat a hearty breakfast, with the ‘infamous’ porridge going down very well indeed. After breakfast, we met Farmer Hollie who showed us how to muck out the stables. The group was split into two teams (girls vs. boys), where each group had to clean out two stables. We feel that the boys may have had a slight disadvantage with Jack’s stable. Riley B exclaimed, ‘Oh my Gosh it’s huge!’ when he saw the size and amount of poo they had to clear. All children had to run to the top of ‘Poo Mountain’ to empty their buckets, they strangely loved it. Don’t worry, we took lots of pictures!
After lunch, Farmer John took us to go and weigh the pigs. They had to herd the pigs onto the weighing machine, they then had to identify each pig and record the measurements. Once they got the hang of how to do it, they were excellent! Farmer John also gave the children a Maths lesson about farming, the costs of bringing up a pig and how much the meat costs. The children were thoroughly engaged during this moment, with Alfie, Chhayank and Joe answering some challenging questions.
Once we had supper (the food is really going down a treat), Group 3 headed out with Farmer Christie to go and feed some of the animals. Joan, a pig who is due to give birth any day now, was fed by a very caring and enthusiastic Jack. We also went and fed lots of sheep and checked that none of the sheep were going into labour! We met Casablanca the bull and Felicity gave him some hay. Chhayank was able to tell us why Casablanca has a ring in his nose. Tilly, Kayla, Jorja, Jacob and Ruby helped tuck the various chickens up for the night. The children are quickly learning all the names of the different species of animals at the farm and are learning a lot! We have now come in to have a hot chocolate and (hopefully) go to bed!
Saturday 13th May 2017 (morning update)
After an excellent night's sleep (the best ever for a first night) the children awoke with great enthusiasm for the day ahead. Of course, with this being Wick Court, the children have had to work for their breakfast by doing tasks around the farm and house. However, they were then rewarded with a scrumptious cooked breakfast accompanied by cereal, cups of tea and porridge. All of the food has been going down very well with the children. Sophie was extremely proud to be tasting some foods she has never tried before.
During the remainder of the morning, Group 1 revisited Oldbury farm to assist with feeding the cattle where Harlan named his favourite calf 'Blossom'. Group 2 have been building 'poo' mountains and helping in the gardens whilst Group 3 have had their first 'taste' of mucking out the horse stables. One of the horses is expecting twins any day now so we are keeping our fingers crossed that this may happen whilst we are here.
The children are currently in the classroom writing letters home so keep an eye out in the next few days for letters arriving in the post.
We will update more news later (along with more photos) but do please bear with us as we are unable to post any information until your children are sound asleep!
Mr and Mrs Thompson
Friday 12th May 2017
We’ve all had a lovely first day at the farm, following an excellent journey down, and are now all settled down in bed ready for what we hope will be a good night’s sleep before starting again in the morning.
Mr Thompson (and Mrs Thompson), Harlan, Olivia, Riley J, Tyler, Sienna, Uthman, Aspen, Shannon, Isla, Summer, Andrea and Jamie
After our delicious jacket potatoes and choc ice pudding, we walked (well energetically ran) over to Oldbury, the neighbouring dairy farm with Farmer John. Uthman made sure the newly born calves had enough water for the evening as Olivia excitedly mixed up milk for them to drink. Riley was an expert at ensuring all the older cows had enough grass to eat, even if it did give him a bad back from all the effort he was putting in! The children learnt about the different stages in a cow’s life and how this impacts farm life. Olivia was extremely knowledgeable when Farmer John began asking the group some questions. As the sun was setting, the children ran back through the fields to Wick Court. Harlan has been very helpful this evening by ensuring all the children’s suitcases have been stored away ready for our exciting week. After a very tiring day, they are all tucked up in bed ready for a full day on the farm tomorrow.
Mr Dargie, Sienna, Jack H, Daniel, Charlie, Oliver, Chloe, Sophie, Connor, Joanna, Niamh, Demi and Leo
Naturally, excitement levels were sky high on the coach during our trip to Wick Court this afternoon. The sky itself was particularly grey and we experienced what will hopefully be our first and last episode of torrential rain.
Upon arrival, the rain had stopped and we were introduced to Farmer John and Farmer Dave who showed us around our new home for the week. Bags and dormitory logistics were sorted and before we knew which way round our overalls went, we were out in the fields feeding some eager lambs who were very pleased to see
the large buckets of food that we were carrying us. Sienna and Demi mastered the art of carrying their feed at the correct heights whilst the rest of the group are looking forward to another go at this skill tomorrow.
Waving goodbye to the lambs, we marched off to see the chickens where Jack H and Niamh were in charge of carrying our eggs for breakfast tomorrow. Our group learnt that it doesn’t take much to break an egg and tomorrow morning they will also learn that someone will be missing an egg from their plate. Day one and we are already learning plenty of life lessons.
Back inside, we filled up on jacket potatoes, beans, cheese and even salad (!) before wishing Kayla a very happy birthday. The birthday cake was so large that there was enough for everyone and some of us even managed more than one slice. After a quick sing song and a cup of hot chocolate, our young farmers wandered up to their new rooms and (fingers crossed) into the land of nod.
Miss Nicholls, Miss Wolstenholme, Alfie, Riley B, Jack R, Joe, Chhayank, Kayla, Ruby, Felicity, Tilly, Jorga, Hollie and Jacob
When we arrived at Wick Court Farm, the children were clearly excited and there was a clear ‘hum’ of anticipation. Our group was the first to go onto the farm and experience the eclectic animals. We fed the pigs and sheep, with each child being in charge of a bucket of feed or water. The farm boasts a wide range of animals and the children ‘ohhh’d’ and ‘ahhh’d’ when they saw them. We believe that the clear favourite was ‘Dolly’ the sheep who they had learnt about when members of Wick Court visited in the Autumn Term.
We then put the chickens to bed, with the help of the children rounding them up. The birthday girl (Kayla) and Hollie were in charge of collecting the eggs that the hens had produced.
Once we had eaten dinner (jacket potato for those wondering!), Group Three stayed at the cottage to have a chance to unpack and unwind for the evening. Miss W introduced many of the children to ‘charades’.
The birthday girl shared her cake with all of the children when all groups had arrived back from their visits to the farm. After that, the lucky kiddos were made a cup of hot chocolate from Mr T and are now tucked up in bed.