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Year 6 enjoy Rushall Farm visit ......

Year 6 enjoyed a fantastic day at Rushall Farm, on the North Wessex Downs.

Year 6 travelled to the North Wessex Downs on Wednesday 25th April to spend a day at Rushall Farm.

It’s set in beautiful countryside, very close to Bradfield College and is just a half hour drive from school. We arrived just before 10.00am and we all changed into our wellies/old trainers and had to walk across special mats soaked in disinfectant; Rushall Farm is a working, organic farm and they go to great lengths to help protect their animals and plants. After leaving our lunch bags in the barn, we split into 6 groups.  Each group had an instructor to lead several different activities. We did mostly the same activities, with a couple of variations. 

Some children began with pond dipping, using nets to scoop aquatic wildlife from the pretty pond into bowls and then take a closer look at what they’d caught. It was fascinating to see so many different creatures, all from one scoop of the net! We saw tadpoles, dragonfly nymphs, leaches, caddisfly larvae, water beetles, water boatmen and more!  While some were pond dipping, others were discovering the delights of owl poo!  They took a close look at some owl pellets to discover what the owls eat. Barn owls, for example, are unable to digest the fur and bones of their prey (which is usually swallowed whole) and six or so hours after feeding, they cough up a pellet which contains the remains of 4 or 5 small mammals. Dissecting these pellets tells you exactly what has been eaten.

A huge tractor and trailer arrived at different times to take each group across to the farm (great fun and very bumpy) and we were lucky enough to go into a huge barn, full of sheep who had either recently lambed or were about to deliver their lambs. The farm has around 800 ewes and this ‘maternity ward’ was very busy! During the morning, one group witnessed a sheep just beginning to go into labour and in the afternoon another group got to see that lamb being born – amazing! We were able to go inside a large pen with lots of one-month old lambs who were very interested in us and our wellies, coats, hair …… the children loved sitting with the lambs and stroking them! Yes, it really was a wonderful “aaaaah” moment!  Across from the sheep was another barn full of cows and a huge bull who were all enjoying a good feed…… so much so, that the young, slimmer calves had slipped through the railings and were standing right in the feed trough!

After a picnic lunch, we carried on with more activities. At some point during the day, all groups went to an area of the River Pang, a tributary of the River Thames, to do some measuring and more dipping. We had to swap our own footwear for rather large waders and the tractor & trailer took us down to the river. We had to use ranging poles and a metre rule together with a long tape measure to measure the width of the river (bank to bank) and the depth at various points.  The children enjoyed being right in the water, fully clothed and (almost) completely dry! They also measured the speed of the flow of the water using an orange and a stopwatch! We had more nets to scoop up different varieties of aquatic wildlife and even managed to net a few tiny fish and some shrimps.

Some groups enjoyed a bluebell walk and others tried sweep netting – using large nets to sweep through the long grass and surrounding hedgerows to catch small insects, beetles, spiders and bugs. We were given small, clear pots with a magnifying top and we gently placed anything we caught inside so we could have a better look – fascinating!

We all enjoyed a great day out at Rushall Farm – there were quite a few children who did not want to leave!