On Tuesday October 6th, a small group of our pupils were invited by Mrs Nicoll (from HE) to visit her at Setonhill Farm, near Longniddry. In addition to the very lucky pupils chosen for this trip, Mr C from CDT, Mrs A from Science and Mrs B (that’s me!) were asked to become involved to ensure we made the most – from a cross-curricular point of view – of this wonderful opportunity. So much could be taken from the experience and rolled out into Home Economics, Science and CDT lessons for weeks to come and with the new S1 cohort undertaking the “East Lothian – Our Environment” course this session, this was too valuable an experience to turn down.
So, wellies in hand, woollie jumpers at the ready and faces bright with anticipation (and that was just Mr Cruickshank) we headed off in the school minibus to the farm. The weather forecast had not been great however, although the skies were leaden, no rain was actually to fall whilst we were out and about. We felt very happy and lucky in this regard.
Above is a beautiful photograph of Setonhill Farm. It shows how picturesque a setting we were being treated to. Mrs Nicoll met us at the driveway to the farm house, ready to get us started with one of the many tasks we were to be set during our visit. We were off to feed the hens and see if there were any eggs to collect!
At first the birds were not interested in the gaggle of Preston Lodge pupils desperate to chuck bread pieces at them. They stayed, wise old birds, in their wooden hutch and were doubtless having a good old hen chuckle at our expense. We coaxed and we cooed. We made embarrassing noises of encouragement. One of us even instructed the hens with a “Hey, yous! Come out!” But none of it worked and we were about to walk away when the inevitable happened…the feathered fiends deigned to grace us with their presence.
Out they strutted, splendid in their red and black and white finery.
We gladly took the chance to feed our feathered friends whilst one of our party checked their living quarters for signs of eggs. We were very pleased to find two warm brown shells…that we removed and stored for taking back to the farm house.
Our next job was to go round the garden orchard harvesting fruit from the trees. We were amazed at all the apples, pears and plums hanging from the branches above our heads. Some fruit was lying in the grass but often this was not edible – little furry or feathered creatures had obviously gotten to these before us.
We spent a fair while collecting the fruit from the canopy and were delighted when Mrs N said we could try a little of our produce…
Our next mission was to climb into a hilly field on the other side of the farmhouse to feed some very special animals – Mrs N’s gorgeous Zwarbtle Sheep! We were simply dumb struck at how these animals looked and felt. They were quite simply some of the loveliest animals we had met. Able to get into the field with them, we had a good pat of their brown springy fleece before feeding them with basins of sheep feed.
The sheep visit was then soon followed by a visit to meet Mrs N’s fabulous labrador dogs – one chocolate and one black – before we went off on an exciting forest walk to look for conkers, cones, leaves and twigs. We soon found we were not walking on a pathway…we were getting deeper and deeper into the undergrowth and had to be careful. Branches could ping back in our faces, tree roots could trip us up – there was even a badger’s set to get past. We didn’t want to fall into that and break an ankle! We felt as though we were Robin Hood in the Longniddry Wood…or Ant and Dec in the jungle. (We are sure at one point we heard Mr C shout, I am a Celebrity! Get me out of here!).
The walk was wonderful and we were disappointed to find out that we would soon have to be turning back towards the farm again – something about teachers having classes to teach (pah!). However, we were not finished yet and we were treated to a tour of the farm buildings and stores. We saw grain mountains, potato piles, cow sheds, tractors, ploughs, a vet’s enclosure and – best of all – the hay bales! We had great fun climbing up on top of these bundles of hay (and Mrs A had a fine time bouncing across from one to another, proving PTs don’t have to be square!).
We asked our pupils for feedback on how they felt the trip went. The expressions of excitement are too many to relay here, so we thought we’d end with a photograph that says it all!
(Back at the ranch we have used our collected apples and pears to make meals in our HE lessons and our Gardening lessons – and they tasted all the better for knowing we collected our own apples! We have used the cones and twigs for our 3D model of the Water Cycle in Science and we have spoken about the animals and plants we saw with our Science teachers. We are using the conkers we collected in CDT – drilling holes into them to make stringed conkers for the annual whole school conker competition. Now that’s what we call Cross Curricular!)