Since I’ve started working as a Heritage Farming Apprentice down on the farm I’ve been extremely busy! There has been so much to learn particularly regarding the care and working of the heavy horses, Ben and I have been taught how to feed, groom, and manage the stables, harness and hoe (the potatoes are coming on very well!) Alongside the intense horse work we have also been learning about the care of the other animals down on the farm by shearing the sheep and herding the cattle.
On Tuesday 4th June Hannah, Tom, Ben myself and Richard took a trip over to Oxburgh Hall where the great national Trust employees informed us of the work going on regarding the maintenance of the 80 or so acres that the Hall is in charge of. We were told that back when it was a house for a wealthy family, as a sign of their high status they kept swans with their sign engraved on their beaks! Damien- the head ranger- gave us a tour of the grounds with the view of possibly bringing one of the Suffolk Punches over to Oxburgh to do some logging for them. This would be a great opportunity to combine the two museums and work alongside the National Trust. The land in their woods is fairly wet hence the reason that tractors and modern machinery is not such a viable options for the removal of the timber.
Damien also told us of the other projects they have on-going there including the removal of the silt build up in the river and the fixing of the sluice gate. Not only did the day teach us of the land management but it also highlighted some points regarding people management and the running of a site. Oxburgh Hall only has three outdoor staff, the rest of the people who manage and nurture the land are all volunteers therefore Damien’s job isn’t only to take care of the land but also manage the people and their time efficiently and effectively.
Overall the day was productive and interesting (it also helped that the sun shone for us!) and we are hoping that in the autumn some logging will be done and we will work together.
Within the next few weeks we have a lot planned down on the farm and away from site. The potatoes need to continue being hoed, along with the de-weeding of the fodder beet that we planted in our first week. Next week we are off to Norwich for three days to complete our First Aid at work and later on we also have the Norfolk Show to prepare for and attend.
These first few weeks have been incredible and there are so many opportunities ahead of us that we are sure to be kept busy. I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone that has made this time so wonderful and I look forward to a fantastic 18 months!
Heritage Farming Apprentice