It’s so good to have everyone back at Bedales and to have students involved on the farm again. With the school closed during lockdown, many of our usual helpers weren’t around, but with animals to feed and a farm to keep running, those of us still on site were busier than ever. So here’s a quick catch-up on what you might have missed…
Since March: three Herdwick, 12 Bedales chocolate and 27 Jacob lambs were born, our two sows had 12 Berkshire and 13 Oxford Sandy & Black piglets between them, we sold six live lambs and two ewes, sent eight hoggets to the abbatoir, lost 15 chickens to a mystery predator, acquired two Pygmy goats, sold 22 piglets, thought about getting a cow (watch this space!), baled 111 bales of hay, harvested over 250 jars of honey, sheared 68 sheep, trimmed countless feet and bottle fed a lamb in my house for five weeks! This is without even mentioning all the fruit and vegetables that has been grown, harvested and frozen in preparation for delicious recipe making with students this term.
We received a huge amount of help from staff living on site, who so generously gave their time to tend to the vegetable beds and polytunnels. Not only did this provide a form of lockdown therapy, but a wonderful community spirit flourished – thank you! I would also like to give a special mention to Outdoor Work’s Kirsten and Marcella, as well as my own family, all of whom worked tirelessly throughout a long and sometimes difficult period to help keep this unique and beautiful farm thriving. We very much look forward to working alongside students and staff once again. Here’s to a fabulous new school year!
For the latest updates, follow Bedales Outdoor Work on Instagram here.
The Summer term is usually the busiest and most rewarding; students can literally see the fruits of their labour all around them. But at the moment, certain areas of Outdoor Work (ODW) remind me of a post-apocalyptic movie. People have gone, tools have been left, a shoven leaning against a wall is slowly being choked by bindweed as it makes its way up the shaft. Yet despite the eerie silence and our missing workforce, plants still grow and animals still need tending…
Every year we time the lambing of our Jacob sheep to start at the beginning of the Summer term. This year at the black barn, we got 26 lambs from 15 ewes. Across the yard, our two sows, Bessie and Little Pig, were busy giving birth to 22 piglets between them. The barnyard was buzzing with new life and a welcome distraction for passers-by on their daily lockdown walk.
We currently have around 90 sheep on the farm. They are all at different stages of life and require a lot of hands-on work. Social distancing and farming don’t really go well together and it is at times like this that the term ‘Bedales bubble’ has been very appropriate. Without the help of students, regular jobs like weighing, treating, foot trimming, shearing and moving sheep have been a challenge. But my ‘ODW bubble’ of Kirsten, Marcella, Oscar Kingsley-Pallant, Josh Baty and my family has worked wonders!
Lockdown will be one of those defining moments. We will all remember where we were and what we were doing. For me, it will be the transition from standing in front of a class of children in my lab, to sitting staring at a computer screen on my sofa – an alien world and one that I am not enjoying! However, it hasn’t all been bad. The stillness and quiet has let nature be heard and during lockdown both Mary Shotter, our Biology technician, and I have immersed ourselves in it.
Mary has taken a biodiversity study of the Bedales site, and I have been taking photos of the wildflowers during my daily walks in the vicinity of Bedales. From these walks, I have put together some wildflower quizzes that have been available on the B-More Teams channel. I have really learnt a lot doing this and seen flowers that I hadn’t noticed before. My husband and I have been lucky, living close to school and the Ashford Hangers. The unnerving quiet of a deserted A3, which we walked over daily in those early days, allowed the birds and the rustling of the trees to be heard and heightened our awareness of nature all around.
Block 3 have been prompted to reflect on ‘character’ from The Guardian article, The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months. For centuries western culture has been permeated by the idea that humans are selfish creatures. That cynical image of humanity has been proclaimed in films and novels, history books and scientific research. But in the last 20 years, something extraordinary has happened. Scientists from all over the world have switched to a more hopeful view of mankind. As we are living through this unprecedented lock down and as our theme in Wellbeing for Block 3 this year is ‘empathy’ I felt this cross-curricular article would resonate with Bedalians. The real Lord of the Flies is a tale of friendship and loyalty; one that illustrates how much stronger we are if we can lean on each other, and that we should always look for what is good and positive in people. As a Block 3 student reflects: “I enjoyed reading this article a lot. I found it very interesting and I enjoyed the expectations vs reality of it all. Books make it appear as if people being trapped on an island together will lose all sanity. Good to know that isn’t necessarily true!”
For Block 4’s theme on identity this year we have been exploring self-awareness and acceptance. Dr Brene Brown’s research and teachings permeate the entire Wellbeing curriculum provision at Bedales, so it was opportune to task students with watching her two TED talks. Dr Brown is perhaps best known for TEDx talk, The Power of Vulnerability. Recorded at an event in Houston in 2010, the talk is one of the five most popular in TED history, with more than 60 million views. It summarises a decade of Brown’s research on shame, vulnerability and courage.
By Phil Tattersall-King, Deputy Head (Co-curricular)
On Wednesday we held a Badley Day with a difference – our very first virtual Badley Day. Although we couldn’t be together as we usually would on Badley Day, students and staff took part in a range of activities, mostly away from their screens, coming together to share their progress on Microsoft Teams throughout the day.
It was a packed day with lots on offer – from a Chain Reaction activity, a Virtual Escape Room and Creative Lego, to Gardening, Running (with the distances achieved going towards our #SyriatoSteep fundraiser – see story above), a wildlife inspired Scavenger Hunt, Cooking, Creative Writing and Journaling. Georgie Nugent’s Living Lockdown video project, which aims to create a record of everything Bedalians have, also kicked off on Badley Day and we’ll share the finished video with you when it is ready. Continue reading →
Thank you so much to all who joined in our #SyriatoSteep challenge in this final week before the half term break. We have been overwhelmed by the support and energy out there. All contributions helped us head closer to the target – we thought covering the 4,066 km distance from Idlib to Bedales in a week would be a big challenge, but with your help, we had it nailed on Wednesday. Today is our final day and we have already surpassed 6,000 kms.
At time of writing, £5,029 (including Gift Aid) has been raised for the Rural Refugee Network and John Badley Foundation, two charities helping transform the lives of people who face severe challenges, and many of whom are in extremely vulnerable situations. Thank you to those who have already generously supported. To mark our successful endeavour, we are suggesting a ‘victory lap’ and final push on the fundraising, so do please consider re-living your favourite run/walk/cycle, and send a photo to share with others (to firstname.lastname@example.org). And if you haven’t got round to donating, there is still time to do so here. Listen to brief videos about the two charities here: RRN; JBF.
Since half term, the Houseparent teams have been hosting online ‘At Homes’ with our students. It has been lovely to catch up with people and hear how they are doing either locally, further afield in the UK or abroad. As ever, these forums of discussion are re-energising for us as Houseparents, and it has been great to get the students together in a social context. The students also found it helpful hearing from their peers as to how they are managing life in lockdown. We look forward to more virtual At Homes, although we would much rather be meeting face-to-face at Bedales.
To give you a flavour of what has been happening at my At Homes this week, I showed the boys in my house how to make poached eggs live – this was my first attempt too! I was delighted that some of the boys joined in at the same time, poaching eggs in their own kitchen. We all had moments of great triumph as we cut into a poached egg and out flowed delicious yellow yolk. We all had moments of disaster as eggs split, yolks went too hard and one even ended up on a laptop! I suggested poached eggs go well with haggis or avocado, or of course, Eggs Benedict… that will be for next week!
When Bedales closed its doors to students five weeks ago, I set our students the task of producing some online content that would both help to keep them busy and also hopefully bring one or two smiles to the faces of the Bedales community. What has since followed has been one of the most meaningful and creative periods I have ever had the fortune of witnessing in all of my years at Bedales.
From spectacular original songs to fun covers, innovative video collaborations to hilarious outtakes. Students have been constantly learning new skills to turn their creative visions into very real end product. From how to record bands across three continents with limited equipment, using specialist music and editing software to create professional quality video, learning stop motion video techniques, researching how best to stream live concerts (more of which to follow in the coming weeks) and learning new ways to collaborate with each other during this unique period. We’ve been sharing the finished results on our social media channels, but if you’ve missed any, you can access all the videos on the Bedales Vimeo channel here.