I am writing this report after two hugely successful days at Longformacus Estate. With the help of the grant Blackhill Windfarm Community Fund so kindly gave RHET Scottish Borders we were able to educate over 180 children during the two day event!
Mr Charles approached RHET to help arrange an event with Duns Primary School which soon turned into us suggesting with our help he could have a much larger event. Therefore on Monday 6th June we had out onto the Estate the whole of S2 from Berwickshire High School in Duns around 125 children. On Tuesday 7th June both primary 6 classes from Duns Primary School came out for a farm tour.
Mr Charles and his three staff with our help and support came up with five sessions for the S2’s to undertake during the day. The year was split into 5 groups and they sent around 45minutes on each session.
Sessions were as follows:
General Introduction – Estate Management
The owner of the Estate gave a brief back ground on the Estate and some information on Estate management.
Session 1 High Ground Management & use.
In this session they discussed the management of the heather ground covering area such as heather burning and the importance of this land for the birds and other wildlife it supports. The gamekeeper went go into detail of his main roles and what his job entails. Discussions were be had about the working dogs used, breeds and uses.
Session 2 Low Ground Management & use
This session looked at the differences between high and low ground management. The gamekeepers went into details about the rearing of the birds and vermin control, including different traps and reasons for controlling different types of vermin. Woodland management was also discussed. Discussions were had about the working dogs used, breeds and uses.
Session 3 Farming on the Estate
They looked at the livestock on the farm, fields being rented out for sheep. The life cycle of the sheep and the care required. A clipping demonstration and foot trimming demonstration were under taken .The main machinery used in the farming enterprise was looked at.
Session 4 Estate Maintenance
The maintenance on a large estate was looked at covering a wide range of topics. Forestry, gardening, care of old buildings using the traditional skills and the use of up to date technology. A huge focus was on careers.
Session 5 River Life – Tweed Foundation
Tweed Foundation discussed the life of the river, using electro-fishing to show the species present and the care the river requires. Children got up close to the fish and learned about their life cycles.
The feedback from both staff and pupils was fantastic and very keen to undertake a similar event on an annual basis. The weather was very sunny on the day which helped hugely but there was concerns that if the weather had changed there was no indoor areas to carry on the sessions in. The village hall was used for lunches a short walk away but this would be too small for teaching.
On the second day we had two P6 classes out to the estate each for around two hours. During their time on the estate they were split into two groups and one half spent time with the Tweed Foundation and undertook a very similar session as the High School did but at a lower level. The other half of their time was spent having a farm walk where they saw the tools used to maintain the buildings and gardens on the Estate, they had a session on the sheep, care, usage etc. Then they discussed gamekeeping as a career covering all aspects and seeing the working dogs, traps and young birds. Again these visits were enjoyed hugely by staff and pupils and we hope to be able to arrange similar in the future.
RHET Scottish Borders is hugely appreciative for the grant funding supplied to us and without that support this event would have not be able to take place with the huge amount of man hours it takes to arrange visits like this, between communicating with the schools, volunteers, carrying out risk assessments, having pre visit to meet the teachers and show them around and evaluating the project at the end.
Blackhill Windfarm Community Fund was recognised as much as possible with your logo being on all the flyers and handouts. We have emailed a report to the Berwickshire News and hope this may be printed to further acknowledge all the support we have had.
Mr Charles is keen to have this event again in future which is this best news RHET Scottish Borders could ask for.