Tractor driving, engineering and lambing – all part of the training journey for Norfolk Countrysiders
Norfolk Young Farmers
Training is an important part of the experience for the Countrysiders, the junior branch of Norfolk Young Farmers, writes Norfolk YFC press officer EVIE SCARBOROUGH-TAYLOR.
As the New Year gets underway, so do the bookings for the training courses run just for Countrysiders, the junior section of Norfolk Young Farmers.
Aimed at the slightly older Countrysiders, the two-day tractor course is run three times a year at Easton and Otley College during half terms and school holidays.
The youngsters get “hands on” experience at basic tractor maintenance including greasing up, checking oil levels and tyre pressures. They also learn how to hitch on a trailer and practice driving an obstacle course with a trailer on. This is quite a skill but they are taught to take their time and be safe.
Agricultural engineering is another popular course and you can imagine how influential this can be in helping these youngsters decide on significant career choices. They take apart a small two-stroke engine and rebuild it. They learn to work cleanly and methodically and as a team, all helping each other. They also have a go at grinding and welding. It truly is a great experience.
For those more inclined towards animals, there is the lambing and sheep care course. This encompasses everything from the responsibility of feeding and the health care of the ewes to lambing and the rearing of any orphaned lambs. They have occasionally been lucky enough to witness the births of some lambs – an incredible thing for anyone to encounter.
On the dairy and calf handling course, Countrysiders learn about the yearly life cycle of the cows from the care given pre-calving to going into the milking parlour. They learn how each cow is individually identified and records kept, including how much feed each cow requires.
The calves are halter trained and, although not particularly obliging, the Countrysiders learn how to coax them to move forward.
Any Countrysiders completing the dairy and calf handling course are automatically entitled to take part in an annual calf show. This is another prime opportunity for Countrysiders to show their knowledge and skills, gaining the experience of competing with some impressive successes.
Countrysiders, aged 10 to 16, do not necessarily come from agricultural backgrounds. As long as they have an interest in the multi-faceted world of agriculture – whether it be in an office, laboratory, workshop or hands-on machinery and animal handling – Norfolk Young Farmers and Countrysiders has plenty to offer. Training comes in such interesting ways, so members are learning while having fun.
For more information on Norfolk Young Farmers and Countrysiders, see www.norfolkyfc.org.