Thursday, 3 December 2015

Educate Awards 2015

Our last blog post was all about being shortlisted in three categories for the Educate Awards 2015 - for those that missed the flurry of activity on Twitter over the last few weeks, here's our summary:

(I) lied in my last blog update, because I said that we were only shortlisted in three categories, this wasn't strictly true because some of my students had also nominated me in the Teacher of the Year category. With our four shortlisted spots, we had eight tickets and so brought a selection of staff, volunteers and students (we kept it secret until the last minute from the students, we thought they might appreciate the surprise). As it turned out, I think that we were the only school to take students with us - it was important to us that they were there, not for their nomination, but for the fact that they put in so much hard work and dedication to making the farm a success. I always tell visitors to the farm about how the students run it - from coming in at weekends or on holidays to clean and feed the animals, to bringing me coffee in the morning after I've been in school all night during lambing, to leading our excellent primary school visits.

It isn't often that some of us are seen in suits or dresses, usually opting for overalls, wellies and muddy smudges on our faces - but a change is as good as a rest right? I'm sure you'll agree that the students looked very smart and some of the farmers turned out alright as well!

Scrubbing up well!

We were treated to some fantastic food, excellent entertainment and cracking company during the night - our tablemates were Rainford C of E Primary and we gave them an extra special big cheer when they won the Spirit of Enterprise Award.

Before long, it was time for our awards to come up and we thought that we were in with a good chance of scooping something this year following our hard work with the entries. The first award we were up in was the Career Aspiration Award to which we were runners up to the very worthy Calderstones School in Liverpool.

The next two awards we were up for were the Innovation in Education and Outstanding Teaching of Life Skills for which we got an honourable mention but unfortunately no award. The students were having a great time though, and kept reminding me that all hopes were on me. No pressure then!

So up came the Teacher of the Year award and the shortlisted nominees had a brief summary of why they were nominated - it was getting quite hot in there eh?

'And the runner up is Beth Harris from Archbishop Temple School'

Lots of clapping, well done Beth! I noticed how impressive the floor is in the Anglican Cathedral, how the wax was dripping all over the place from the big candlestands - the drycleaning bill must be pricey.




I don't really remember the next bit that well, just that the red carpet was really long and there was a lot of people looking at me. Then the students were legging it up behind me to join me on stage.

The longest red carpet in the history of life

 And here's the video to prove it:

I was truly humbled by an excellent group of students, I'm glad I could share the moment with them.

A big well done to all the teachers that were nominated and shortlisted, on what was a fantastic night for education in the North West!

See you next year!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Educate Awards 2015 - The Shortlist

We are absolutely delighted to announce that the School Farm has been shortlisted in three categories for the Educate Awards 2015. The categories that we were nominated and shortlisted in were:

  • Innovation in Education
  • Career Aspiration (second year running)
  • Outstanding Teaching of Life Skills
Staff and students put a tremendous amount of effort into our applications this year to demonstrate the effort that goes in to running our farm and the fantastic opportunities that we offer our students. Now that the shortlisting has been complete, we can share our application video's with you:

Career Aspiration:

Innovation in Education:

Outstanding Teaching of Life Skills:

Well done to all the shortlisted schools, we can't wait to hear about your successes and projects at Liverpool Cathedral on 20th November! 

Monday, 5 October 2015

Working on a Weekend?

Anyone who lives with a teacher will tell you that teachers work on weekends. For Mr Fearon, this week, that meant transporting some sheep up to a farm in Cumbria. If you've been keeping up to date with our twitter feed, you'll have noticed that we recently acquired a Hampshire Down ewe and we've named her Hermione. Friend of the farm and all-round supporter of new entrants into farming, Hannah Jackson, had a role to play here after she introduced Mr Fearon to her Hampshires when he took Leif up for his summer holiday. Now that we have entered the world of Hampshire's, we needed to get her tupped as soon as possible so that Hermione can lamb in a similar window to our Zwartbles. Hannah happens to have a rather handsome tup going by the name of Hugo and so the matchmaking service goes.

Hermione the Hampshire

Hermione and Hugo getting to know each other a little better.

Hermione will spend the next few weeks up in Cumbria (hopefully she wont come back baaing with a Cumbrian twang) and then she'll rejoin the flock until she lambs. This wasn't a one-way thing however. Back in March, Hannah visited our farm for the first time, and as a local lass, we think she was impressed with what we have managed to set up here in urban Bebington. Hannah was particularly taken with one of our Zwartble tup lambs, Carlos. And so this weekend Carlos made his way up to his new home where he'll work as a teaser. A teaser is an intact male sheep (so the testicles haven't been removed as is done with the majority of young male lambs) that has a vasectomy - this means that he will produce the hormones that should stimulate Hannah's ewes into synchronising their oestrus cycle without being able to actually inseminate them.

 Hannah welcomes Carlos to the Brookside Farm crew

Carlos quickly makes friends with Gunner


As I am writing this, Hannah has sent this picture - Hugo has done his job!

Hugo has been a busy boy!

You can follow Hannah on twitter: @redshepherdess

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Winston meets the girls!

Following our sponging efforts a fortnight ago, today it was time for the students to remove the sponges and prepare our tup, Winston, for his run with the ladies. Holly and Jake will show you what we got up to!

We think that you'll agree that they both did a good job removing the sponges and getting Winston raddled up ready to mate with the ewes.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

It's that time of year again! How to sponge a ewe.

This years lambs are growing on well and now that students are back from their summer holidays, the Yr 12 Animal Management students have been busy planning ahead for next years lambs. Lambing is a very tiring time of year for a farmer, the sheep need checking on a regular basis, including through the night. This responsibility has always fallen to Mr Fearon, so this year we've researched ways in which we could make his life a little easier!

Sponging involves inserting a sponge that contains hormones into the vagina of the sheep. The hormones in the sponge stimulate the reproductive system to become active, but crucially, for the egg to be released 48-55 hours  after the sponge is removed. The tup (we're using Winston this year) is then added to the mix and then theoretically, all of the ewes should lamb within a window of a couple of days in the spring.

This is the first time that we have tried this on Bebington High School Farm and in this video, Jess Fleet demonstrates how the sponge is applied:

We've got our fingers crossed that this technique works for us - we've read mixed reviews, but you never really know until you try it yourself!

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Ethan on Work Experience at Church Farm

Hi,my name is Ethan and I went to Church Farm for Work experience and it was really
educational as it was good to see how other farms work as it was very different. Church Farm wasn't easy work but wasn't hard as the things we did was cleaning the animals and planting/weeding and feeding which was really enjoyable to do.

 At Church Farm I got to work with lots of different animals for example pigs, meerkats, rabbits, chickens, cows, sheep, donkeys and alpacas which was really fun!! My favourite animals there was the meerkats as they just had a funny personality which I really liked and I really enjoyed working with them. The first day we just got to know everybody who worked there and they were all very nice to us especially The Boss (he even gave me a tractor ride) which was really cool. We also cleaned out a few animals on the first day and it was nice to have the opportunity to work with some animals that we don't have on our farm like alpacas and cows.

On the second day we came in and fed all the animals in the morning and then headed straight up to the vegetables section and we had to take all the potatoes out that had fallen in and get all the weeds out (it only took 4 hours), we than had to put this long white sheet over them so none of the flies could get at them and damage the crops. We also cleaned out the geese which was fun because they have a big attitude problem! Now I know why Mr Fearon won't get them for our farm.

After cleaning the geese out it was time for the afternoon feed for the animals so we fed some of the animals as there was a party at the night time that was going to feed some after that was all done we went home. It was good to spend this time getting to know all of the jobs that needed to be done on a farm that is open to the public five days a week. I want to have my own farm one day, but I also really enjoy showing people around our farm back at school.

On the last day we we came in the morning again and we fed all the animals we then cleaned out the chickens, ponies and also the donkeys which was usually an easy job but it was very hot. We were then asked to do a job that we hadn't done before to clean the cows water which was really difficult as we had to give it a really good scrub to get all the dirty stuff out of it but once we did it it was nice and clean.

Mr Fearon came to visit us on the last day, and we showed him Henry. Henry was a lamb that we raised on our farm at school and we sold to Church Farm last year - Ash put him to six of their ewes earlier this year and he gave twins to each one! This is such a cool link that we now have with Church Farm!


Henry's lambs

Throughout this time there were a lot of family/school visits which we were asked to help in. It finally came to the end of the day were we fed the rest of the animals and said our goodbyes and I got a excellent report to say go again which I was really pleased with I had a fantastic time and will go again to see my meerkat friends.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Ethan on Lambing: How to attach a navel clamp.

Yr 10 Animal Care student Ethan Kinney demonstrates how to apply a navel clamp to one of our Zwartbles lambs shortly after birth.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Jess on Lambing: The Triplet Problem

In this short video, Yr 11 Animal Care student Jess Fleet explains how students dealt with one of our ewes that lambed triplets this spring:

Monday, 6 July 2015

My Cheshire Show - Sasha Warburton

Hi, I'm Sasha and I am in Mr Fearon's Yr 11 Animal Care class, but in September I will start on the Level 3 Animal Management course.

I was really excited when I was chosen to go to the Cheshire Show however I was more excited for Mr Fearon's and Mrs Arrowsmith's ghost stories - everyone who went last year said they were amazing!

Mr Fearon asked me to be the first student from our school to show in a new category - 'Dam and Offspring'. Dam is the goaty name for mother. So I was going to be showing Phoebe who gave birth to Sooty & Sweep last December. Sooty & Sweep are very special goats for us, they were the first pygmy goats to be born on the farm and they now live at Grove St Primary School in New Ferry. Our class helped the students set up the farm at Grove St and the school has done a very good job helping Sooty & Sweep settle in.

We were all very excited when we left for the show, we were like kids at Christmas! It doesn't take us long to get to the show, but Mr Fearon got lost so we had something to make fun of him with.

We moved all our animals into their new temporary accommodation and because I was part of the goat team, we got their pens ready and made sure that the goats had hay, water and food. We also put special signs up so that visitors to the show would know that the goats come from a school farm.

At the end of the first full day, Mrs Arrowsmith took the goat team over to the goat tent and we started to practice how we show the animals. The people from the Pygmy Goat Club were really helpful and gave us loads of useful advice that definitely helped us when we were showing.

When the showing started, I was a little nervous. The competition was national so there were lots of entries in all of the categories, so we knew it would be difficult to win. It was very hot and this made the goats a little more stubborn because some of them were refusing to walk. We watched Josie and Jordan in the Young Handler which was first. They both did very very well and I think that they were unlucky not to come 1st and 3rd, but Clio was a little bit silly when she was walking. Later on, Holly and Hollie (2nd & 3rd in Young Handler last year) competed again, but it was a tough class.

Then it was my turn......I was putting my flat cap and white coat on and the judges hurried us out into the show ring, Phoebe trotting along behind me. It felt like all eyes were on me! Oliver and Fleur from Grove St were with me because they had Sooty and Sweep and we chatted to the judge about the goats, she was very friendly.There were lots of entries in our class and we placed fifth which I am happy with!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

My Cheshire Show - Ethan Kinney

I'm Ethan and I study in Mr Fearon's Yr 10 Animal Care class. I was picked to go to the Cheshire Show with our animals for the second year running and in the weeks before we all got very excited. I really enjoy showing the animals and talking to people about our farm.

We have a special trailer for the farm that our sheep can go in safely and a gate to separate the goats, this is important to keep them safe on the motorway. It isn't a very long journey to the show, unless Mr Fearon goes the wrong way - he said it wasn't his fault!

Phoebe is ready to go!

When we arrive at the show, the first thing to take care of is the animals, so we get them settled into their pens, with straw, hay and plenty of water because it was quite warm. After all the animals were settled, we put our tents up and got the camp ready for the next two nights.

We love camping! 

This year I was working with the sheep again. We have a small flock of pedigree Zwarbles and I was hoping that my sheep, Bebington Bluebell, was going to place well. Last year Bluebell came second to Blossom in the lamb category. This year they were in the Shearling Ewe category (this means that they are a one year old female).

On the first evening, me and the rest of the sheep team (Ellie, James, Jake and Jess) went to practice showing our sheep with Mr Fearon pretending to be the judge. We had to make sure that we knew everything about our sheep in case the judge asked us questions and we also had to make sure that the sheep stood well.

The next day, the competition began and I was a little bit nervous, but I was confident that Bluebell would do well. There were five ewes in our category and four of them were Zwartbles, this made the competition stronger and Mr Fearon said he hopes that there will be a class especially for our breed next year because at the moment, our category is 'Any Other Continental Breed'. Bluebell did really well and came second for the second year running so I was really pleased with her. After Bluebell had come off, I stayed around to help support our other students in their classes with the lambs from this year.

Showing Bluebell & Blossom

When we got home on the Wednesday I went straight to bed because I was really tired, but I came in early again on Thursday to feed the animals before school!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Farm Feast 2015

We were delighted to be asked back for our second year at Farm Feast at Claremont Farm (formerly the Wirral Food & Drink Festival) so we brought a bunch of our animals with us as well!



 Saturday #felfie

This year we had the whole of the Food & Farming tent to ourselves, so staff and students had a fair amount of planning to prepare the displays that explained what we do on the farm. Our involvement with Andrew and the Farm Feast gang came out of our locality and also our use of twitter as a way of sharing our story - so this became the theme of our display.

Sunday #felfie


During the weekend, the weather stayed fantastic and thousands of visitors passed through the marque to meet our students and our animals. We brought a selection of goats and sheep as well as our new sheepdog Leif (he was a little shy at times).

#Shattered #Carlos

By the time we were finished on the Sunday afternoon, we had spoken to lots of people and shared our message of high welfare standards, low food miles, food education and leadership to hundreds of people of all ages. Our students were a credit to their families and the school and continue toward their ambitions of being the next generation of farmers.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

My Cheshire Show - James Longstaffe-Keith

I am in Mr Fearon's Animal Care class and I was really excited to be selected to go to the Cheshire Show with the other school farmers. We took a total of 6 sheep and 2 goats to the show but most of the work started before we got there. Mr Fearon sheared the shearling ewes in April so they had grown some fleece and looked really good. We look after the sheeps hooves on a regular basis but we made sure they were in very good condition and that any of the sun-bleached bits of fleece were trimmed off. We had already done a lot of practice with the sheep to get them to walk well on the halters that we use for showing and to make sure they stood properly.

When the day finally arrived to go to the show we had to load all of the animals into the trailer which isn't as easy as it looks. At one point we actually closed Mr Fearon into the trailer with the sheep. When we arrived we had to unload the animals from the trailer and settle them down before we were able to set our tents up. After the tents were set up, we had a barbecue and ate some of the lamb that we farmed last year - it was really tasty.

The next day, Mr Fearon woke us up at 7am to start getting the sheep ready but he did make us breakfast first. My job was to show Clover, one of this years lambs. There were some people who were taking things very seriously, trimming stray bits of fleece and using shampoo on their sheep - I didn't know that you could get sheep shampoo! I cleaned Clovers legs and picked any stray bits of straw or hay out of her fleece and made sure that her hooves were ok.

I was finally called up with Clover with Ellie who was showing Connie and Jake who was showing Clarice. I had to walk the sheep around the enclosure in a circle and make sure that the sheep could stand with her four legs in a square and with her chin up. The judge came over to speak to me about Clover and I answered his questions, he was very friendly. After a bit of time, the judge came back over and awarded Clover 2nd place - I was really pleased with her and myself. Before we could leave the enclosure, I was told I had to stay in to be judge in the best in category, but sadly Clover didn't win that one.

After all of the sheep had been shown, we put them back in their stalls and had a good look around the show and helped the goat team prepare for their showing on Wednesday. One thing that I learned from the show is how much effort goes into getting the sheep there and presenting them. It was a challenging couple of days but I enjoyed every minute of it and hopefully will get to do it again next year.

My Cheshire Show - Jordan Barlow

I am studying in My Fearon's Animal Care class and I was invited to show the pygmy goats at the Cheshire Show. On the first day, some of the other students were involved in showing the sheep (I will leave them to write about that) so we spent the day supporting them and preparing our goats for showing on Wednesday.

This year it was the National Championships for the Pygmy Goat Club so the classes were very big and there was lots of competition. I was showing Phoebe in the Young Handlers category. There were nine other people in my class, including Josie from our school and Fleur and Oliver from Grove Street Primary School who were showing Sooty and Sweep (Phoebe's kids).

Before the show I had to prepare Phoebe by brushing her hair and trimming her hooves which we had already done the week before but we wanted to make sure she was in very good condition for showing. We had already been practicing walking our goats on leads before the show.

In the competition I came 5th and another lady who had lots more goats with her asked me if I would show some of her goats and I came 6th in that category which was really good because it was a national competition.

All of the people that we met from the Pygmy Goat Club were really friendly and helpful, and they showed us the best way to present our goats to the judge. It was a really fun couple of days and the weather was really warm and sunny.