New ‘Living with the Land’ course launching September 2020

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By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work, and Feline Charpentier, Teacher of Outdoor Work

From September 2020, students in 6.1 will be able to choose a new Outdoor Work (ODW) course as one of their sixth form options. ‘Living with the Land’ is a two-year course which will equip students with the practical skills to live lightly off the land, enabling them to look at the wider context for the issues surrounding the environment and our impact upon it. Living with the land around us means having a greater awareness of our environment, living with the seasons, trying to reduce our footprint and applying our new-found knowledge to other aspects of our lives and the community.

It is a natural progression from all aspects covered in the ODW BAC, however it goes into far greater depth and includes significant self-directed work, including a portfolio and a ‘major’ project in the final year. There is currently no clear pathway for a student wishing to take a more practical course at sixth form in environmental subjects. The closest comparable courses are Countryside Management, Food Skills, Sustainability or the planned Natural History GCSE. No courses combine traditional building, cooking and craft skills with aspects of ecology, sustainability and community.

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Biodiversity at Bedales

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By Mary Shotter, Biology technician

Over the past few weeks, in collaboration with a group of Block 3 Outdoor Work students and the Sustainability Group, we have begun the huge task of cataloguing the school’s biodiversity.

We started with the Lake, where we discovered 28 different species of freshwater animals, including water boatmen, dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, whirlgig beetles and flatworms. A walk around the centre of the site revealed 38 species of tree and 19 birds, such as the green woodpecker and nuthatch. The use of a moth trap also showed there were 14 moth species in the wildlife garden behind the Science department, which is remarkable, considering it is late in the year.

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Christmas gifts and produce now available from Outdoor Work

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By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work

Now the end of term is only four weeks away, Christmas is very nearly upon us. As ever, we have been busy creating a whole range of homemade products to help your celebrations go with a bang.

Last Friday, 6.2 students made 97 Christmas puddings in the Bakehouse, plus a hundred or so mince pies to keep us going on the night. Our traditional fire-pit and singalong enhance the festive mood, in fact we’re sure you’ll be able to taste all the extra goodwill in these very special puddings! They are available now in the shop, so please do call in as soon as you can, as they fly off the shelves.

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Bedales competes at Alresford Show

 

By Gala Pearson, Block 5

For part of our Outdoor Work BAC, a group of four of us – Etty Bratley, Lila Levingston, Sasha Arney and me – are doing sheep husbandry. As part of this, we have been looking at a year in the life of a sheep, which includes worming, feeding, breeding and shearing them.

One of the highlights so far has been preparing for the Alresford Show, which was held on the first Saturday in September. In preparation for the show, we spent a lot of time halter training the sheep. We also had to bathe, trim, dag and brush them to get them ready for the ring.

On 7 September, we woke up early to load the sheep into the trailer and set off for Alresford. When we arrived, we herded them into their pens and did the final touch-ups, brushing off any excess dirt.

First up was Etty, who was entered in the ewe lamb class. Competitors were asked to line up and judges went round to each sheep to judge configuration, teeth and wool. After that, the judge wanted to see whether the sheep was tamed on a leash by walking it around the ring.

Following this, we also did a few more classes – shearling ewe, older ewe and a pair of shearling ewes. These didn’t go as well as they could have as the Southdown sheep were very stubborn. However, the pair of ewes (the Herdwicks) went very well, and Sasha and Gala came in fourth place. After all these classes, Etty entered the young handlers, which went really well – she came second!

By this point, we had been there for nearly ten hours, so decided to finish the day with the grand parade. This involved most cattle, cows, goats and sheep. We all got into one big line and walked around the main ring a couple of times, showing off to the public. This was everyone’s favourite part of the day because we led the parade. Even with all the ups and downs over the last year, the Alresford Show was a fantastic experience.

New cattle arrive at Bedales

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By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work

Agnes and Audrey have joined us from Cowdray Farm Estate. Their mothers are Holstein Friesian cattle used for milking, their fathers are used for beef.

Agnes is a Holstein-Friesian cross Aberdeen-Angus. Aberdeen-Angus’s are a native breed, black in colour and known for their hardiness and the quality of their beef. They have a great temperament which we hope proves true as Agnes grows up!

Audrey is a Holstein-Friesian cross Hereford. Hereford cattle are very distinctive, with their white faces and markings, and auburn bodies.  Like the Aberdeen-Angus, Herefords fed on grass produce an excellent ‘marbled’ beef that is in great demand due to its distinctive flavour and quality.

Hereford cattle are another native breed famous for their good temperament. This should make Audrey and Agnes absolutely ideal for our school environment.

The calves are three weeks old, and fed on milk, barley straw and cereal. They will have the milk for roughly another six weeks, and then be weaned entirely onto cereals and barley straw for the winter. In the summer months they will only eat grass.

Very soon they will begin their halter training which is vital in order for us to move them around the site to fresh pastures (watch out for the cow pats!) Already we have three Block 4 students claiming the halter training as part of their Outdoor Work BAC project.

Once the cattle reach roughly 20 months they will be ready for either breeding or beef. What we decide to do with them depends on their behaviour, how our fields have coped with big animals and our appetite for either calves or beef!