Heritage Farming

Oscar is our Heritage Farming apprentice here at Gressenhall for 18 months. He was one of the first Skills for the Future trainees and has really come a long way since joining us. This post will take you through, in his words, his journey so far with us.

 ‘I had been looking around for different apprenticeships for a while but had been put off of an agricultural apprenticeship as I felt it wasn’t for me due to the grand scale that farming is done on these days. However, when this opportunity came up it suited me perfectly and I felt it was too good to turn down.

I have always been interested in history and especially family history, and I have always wanted to be able to farm like my great grandfather did who was the last farmer in my line. I also really enjoy working outside and applying myself to new skills.  So this apprenticeship seemed, and has turned out to be, the perfect job for me.

Once a week I go to EastonCollege to work towards my NVQ level 2 award in mixed farming. However when I am back at Gressenhall we mainly use horses to do our work so most of my time has been learning how to handle and work the horses.

When I first started this post I had no experience of working with horses at all. So even being able to control the horses in a simple way has been a real learning curve for me and one I have thoroughly enjoyed. I have since used the horses to hoe the turnips using a scuffler, harrow the muck on the paddocks as well as harrowing the ploughed land. I have even been able to help deliver a calf which was an amazing experience.

I have also attended a ploughing match with Richard, this was a great help as it gave me the chance to see the process all the way through from start to finish and meeting other people in the business helped me a lot in understanding the concepts.

Since my first few months I have completed many courses and I have been able to consolidate much more of my knowledge here at Gressenhall. I have completed all of my college work for my NVQ Level 2 in Mixed Agriculture and should soon have that signed off. I have also completed my CS30 and CS31 chainsaw qualifications and also completed my MO1 Tractor driving course.

I have been given many opportunities to expand my knowledge and experiences. The Farm Manager Richard organised for me to attend the Norfolk show with Banham Zoo’s heavy horse team where I met lots of great contacts and was able to learn about showing horses. I am also well underway with all the paperwork and practical skills needed to complete my Level 2 Horse Groom’s Diploma.

Richard and I also went on a two day course sheep shearing in the fens which was provided by the British Wool Board. This was a great course and was really beneficial to me. 

I have also had a days training doing hedgelaying and I have had a chance to put this into practice. 

I was also given the opportunity, by the farrier, to have a go at taking a shoe off of a horse’s foot. This is not as easy as the farrier makes it look! But it is a  good skill to have just in case a horse bends a shoe and it needs to be taken off quickly.

This job has been fantastic so far and I am sure It will continue to do so. I have got on really well with everyone at Gressenhall and have been so many opportunities and gained lots of new skills. I look forward to everyday that I work here.’