Author Archives: Alan Green

  • How long are eggs good for and should I keep them in the fridge or on the worktop?

    Each week, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free tractor ride for a child and accompanying adult, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Susie Lindsay:

    This may seem like a simple question, but the answer is actually almost as complicated as deciding which came first (the chicken or the egg). Here are a few factors that affect how long your eggs will last and where you should keep them:

    1) How fresh are your eggs?

    The fresh farm eggs that we sell at Sacrewell (and the eggs from my pet chickens at home) are collected every day, so I know exactly how fresh they are on the day that I use them. However, if you purchase your eggs from a supermarket they may already have spent a week being transported and stored before they hit the shelves. As a rough estimate, eggs are good to eat for at least a month after they have been laid, so if they’re already a week old before they get to your kitchen then that reduces the time you should keep them for.

    2) Have your eggs been washed?

    Eggshell is a fantastic natural packaging that protects the egg inside. As a hen lays her egg, it is coated in a thin, anti-bacterial layer called a bloom. This makes the eggshell less porous and helps it to last longer. If you wash eggs that have come fresh from the chickens, this coating will be removed which means your eggs won’t last as long. I only ever wash the eggs from my pet chickens just before I crack them to use them so that they taste as fresh as possible.

    On the other hand, if you buy your eggs from a supermarket they will have been washed thoroughly, then coated with a new, synthetic coating to replace the natural bloom that has been washed off. This synthetic coating should also help them to stay fresh.

    3) How have your eggs been stored previously?

    As I’ve already mentioned, the eggs we sell at Sacrewell are good to eat for at least a month after they’ve been laid. This applies to eggs that are kept out on the worktop, which is how I keep the eggs from my pet chickens at home.

    It seems to be a bit of a personal choice whether you keep your eggs on the worktop or in the fridge. The cooler temperatures will slow down the processes that gradually cause your egg to deteriorate, but if you’re likely to eat your eggs in less than a month it’s fine to keep them outside. The only exception to this rule is if the eggs have previously been refrigerated. Moving to a warmer temperature will cause the pores in the eggshell to open, allowing the egg to deteriorate at a faster rate, so if you’re eggs have previously been cooled in a fridge, it’s important to keep them cool.

    If you’re unsure about how fresh your eggs are, there’s also a simple test to do at home. Simply pop your egg in a glass of water and see how it floats. The freshest eggs will sink to the bottom and lie flat, those which are a little bit older will rest on the bottom, with one end rising up at an angle, whilst those which are probably too old to use will float. This is because the amount of gas inside the eggshell increases as the egg gets older.

    Of course, how long an egg is ‘good’ for also depends on what you want to do with it… an egg that’s too old for poaching might still be perfect for scrambling or baking. The best advice we can give is that once you’ve got your eggs, get cracking!

    References:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/cleaning-and-storing-fresh-eggs.66816/

    http://www.deliaonline.com/how-to-cook/eggs/how-to-tell-how-fresh-an-egg-is

  • Wear your Muddy Stilettos to Sacrewell!

    Sacrewell is one of five finalists in the Muddy Stiletto Awards ‘Best Family Attraction’ category in Cambridgeshire. Other finalists include Wandlebury Park, Ferry Meadows, Wimpole Estate, and Hitchingbrooke park.

    If you’ve had a great time at Sacrewell, spare a minute of your time to vote for us online – voting closes mid-day Friday 16th. Whilst you’re at it, why not tell us about your favourite memory at Sacrewell by sending us your tweets using the #loveSacrewell hashtag? We’re always keen to hear your stories at Sacrewell.

    “Muddy Stilettos is the biggest and most influential lifestyle blog nationally, with over 100,000 discerning, intelligent, fun-loving women every month reading advice on where to go and what to do with their precious free time.” Muddy Stilettos can be found in 18 counties and became the ultimate ‘urban guide to the countryside’ – a witty, super-useful insider’s guide to the very best food, walks, boutiques, day trips, hotels, interiors and events for smart, fun-loving women living outside London.

    “The blog is recognised for its independence, quality of writing and high editorial standards – if it’s not brilliant, it doesn’t make it onto the site. So to win a Muddy Stilettos Award is a real achievement.”

    There are 5 finalists in each of the 27 categories, which range from ‘Best Children’s Business’ to ‘Best Day Spa’. Please take a minute or two to vote in as many different categories as you can – winning a Muddy Award can make all the difference to a plucky local business.

  • The Hutton Barn is officially open

    On Thursday 8th of June, Sacrewell officially opened ‘The Hutton Barn’. Previously referred to as ‘The Timeline Barn’, the new name is in honour of the William Scott Abbot Trusts’ former Chairman of Trustees, Paul Hutton OBE.

    Paul has been a trustee for the William Scott Abbott Trust since 1997, and has worked tirelessly over the years with countless hours expended. He was essential in the restoration project of the 18th C Grade II* watermill. As well as being a valued member of our trustee board, Paul was a Chair at Nene Park Trust and a Governor of Oundle School. Following a successful career as a Chartered Surveyor with Smiths Gore, Paul was awarded OBE for services to the community of East of England in 2005. When he isn’t working with local community, Paul and his wife Marion enjoy their property in France and spend as much time there as they can.

    Thursday’s opening ceremony attendees included the mayor and mayoress of Stamford, staff, volunteers and the current trustees of the William Scott Abbott Trust.

    I have always had in mind the creation of a sound, practical, enterprise; preserving what is best in our country way of life, and based on sound, practical farming, as all country life must be

    William Scott Abbott

    A century ago, William Scott Abbott first came to farm the land we now know as Sacrewell. He saw, first-hand, how important it was to share knowledge and innovation. Today, we are honoured to carry on that vision at Sacrewell, through our commitment to connecting people to agriculture, the countryside and land heritage, and we think it has a new urgency in today’s world.

    “Most of us spend hours in front of a screen every day, but only a few minutes outdoors. Most farmers’ faces are anonymous to us, and the connection between field and fork is fading. The William Scott Abbott Trust at Sacrewell is working hard to re-connect people of all ages to the landscape. We want our programmes to inspire farm and nature based education.” Explains General  Manager Debbie Queen.

    “2017 has seen the start of new and innovative programmes such as Sacrewell Seedlings and Farm Camp, but those are just the beginning for us. We are developing a bold strategy to help people get outside and re-connect.”

    The Hutton Barn has now been furnished with a wood burning stove and some beautiful tables and benches, with grant money from The Mick George Community Fund. The barn will make a brilliant learning space for schools and groups to connect with the countryside for many years to come.

    Paul Hutton, OBE next to ‘The Hutton Barn’

    From left to right: Jane Scriven, current chairwoman of WSAT; Paul Hutton, former chairman of WSAT; Stamford Mayoress Mrs Valerie Story; Stamford Mayor Anthony J. Story; Jane Harrison, Sacrewell Mill Project Officer.

  • Do you have any rare breed animals at Sacrewell?

    Each week, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free tractor ride for a child and accompanying adult, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Lisa Dodd.

    Yes we do! Sacrewell is part of the William Scott Abbott Trust, a charity founded to provide agricultural education for everyone. We have rare breed farm animals so that our visitors can gain greater insight into how farming and wildlife co-exist in rural England, and how this has changed over the years.

    The Rare Breed Survival Trust (RBST) was formed in 1973 with the aim of securing the future of rare and native breeds of farm livestock. Every year they collect data from breed societies and estimate the total number of breeding females. From this they produce a watch list of endangered livestock breeds.

    Landrace Pigs (RBST category 2, ‘endangered’, less than 200)

    Our resident landrace sow, Kate has had two litters of piglets; our weaners were born on the farm at the end of January. The first Landrace pigs were imported into Britain from Sweden in 1949. The offspring of these pigs were entered into a research programme to assess if the breed would meet the future needs of commercial and pedigree pig production. This was the first example of a Pig Testing Scheme in Britain.

    Landrace pigs are valued for their ability to produce and rear large litters of pigs, and their versatility for indoor or outdoor systems. They are often crossed with other breeds to share these breeding qualities, which is why purebreds are now so rare.

    Zara the Bagot Goat (RBST category 3, ‘vulnerable’, less than 300)

    The exact origin of the breed is unknown, but DNA profiling suggests that they arrived in Britain in the late 14th Century from Portugal. There are theories that they arrived with the John of Gaunt army when returning from battle in Castile; or that King Richard II gave the herd to John Bagot of Blithefield Estate.

    Not bred for meat or milk, the Bagot is the UK’s only primitive goat breed to have developed in the English lowlands. The Bagot is very tolerant of rain, and this hardiness with their preference for browsing hedges and shrubs over grass makes them a popular choice in conservation grazing.

    Lincoln Longwool (RBST category 3, ‘vulnerable’, less than 900)

    Historically, the Lincoln Longwool is one of our most important native breeds of sheep. A large dual-purpose breed developed during the 1700s to carry a heavy fleece for wool, combined with a substantial mutton carcass to produce both meat and tallow (used for candles and soap). Lincolnshire was already famous for its sheep in the Middle Ages when the wool trade was crucial to Britain’s economy and Lincoln was one of the seven official exporting towns of England.

    There are a number of reasons for their decline. With changing demands in fashions during the 1950s and the popularity of oil-derived fibres in the 1960s, the fleeces no longer have a commercial market. Mutton has declined in popularity in today’s food market, and the ewes tend to have only one lamb at a time, which are slow to mature and produce fatty meat. Interest in the breed is small, and with fewer than 500 breeding ewes compared to more than 230 flocks in the 1920s, the Lincoln Longwool is a rare breed.

    Soay Sheep (RBST category 4, ‘at risk’, less than 1500)

    We have five Soay sheep at the farm. With a history that goes back to the Bronze Age, the Soay is the most primitive of British sheep.  Found on the Scottish Island of Soay in the St Kilda group, the name Soay means “sheep island” in Norse, which suggests the breed has been found here since at least the time of the Vikings.  As you might expect the breed is exceptionally hardy and can survive in the most adverse conditions.

    Capable of grazing most places, they are particularly effective at controlling scrub and have been used with great success in conservation grazing projects.

    Used for speciality knitting, their wool is shed naturally each year, with no need for shearing.  They also produce lean meat with an unusual ‘gamey’ flavour that is sought after by the gourmet trade.

    References

    http://www.face-online.org.uk/resources/factsheets/discovering/rarebreeds.pdf

    http://www.lincolnlongwools.co.uk/breed.php

    About Bagot Goats

    https://www.rbst.org.uk/

    http://www.britishpigs.org.uk/breed_la.htm

  • Why we’re not participating in Open Farm Sunday

    It’s been one hundred years since William Scott Abbott first came to Sacrewell and even in the early days visitors were welcomed to the farm. Whilst the type of farming and the type of visitors has changed a lot since then, the aims of the William Scott Abbott Trust are still to provide an agricultural education to all, so it might seem a little strange that we don’t take part in Open Farm Sunday.

    Open Farm Sunday is an annual event, managed by LEAF, where farms across the country of all sorts and sizes open their doors to members of the public to allow them to find out where their food comes from. This is a message that we strongly believe in at Sacrewell and in fact David Powell (the nephew of William Scott Abbott) made Sacrewell one of the first farms in the country to host a farm open day in 1973. However, now that Sacrewell is open every Sunday of the year (unless that Sunday happens to be Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day) we don’t feel we’re the right kind of farm to participate in this event.

    So, Sacrewell will be open as usual on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th June, with standard admission fees applying to non-members. If you’d like to take advantage of the Open Farm Sunday event to see a farm that isn’t open all year round, you could try Village Farm or MHS Farms Ltd who are both in our local area.

  • Which kind of sheep are the best for computers?

    Each week, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free tractor ride for a child and accompanying adult, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Frances Stapleton, the niece of Dr Francis William Dry.

    To start this story, we need to understand static electricity. It’s the stuff that makes your hair stick if you rub it against a balloon, or the stuff that gives you a tingling shock when you touch a door handle sometimes. Static electricity is created when electrons jump from one material to another when you bring them into contact with each other, for example when you rub them together. The build up of extra electrons in a material creates an electric charge and some can carry more of a charge than others.

    Computers don’t like static electricity because they are busy using their own electric charges to do things like make these words appear on your screen. So when they became popular in the 1970s, the search was on to find something to cover the floor with that wouldn’t create too much of a static charge.

    Enter the Drysdale sheep. This sheep originated in New Zealand in 1931, when Dr Francis William Dry crossed Romney sheep and Cheviot sheep to produce a breed which had a high percentage of hairy fibres in its fleece. At the time there was little use for this especially ‘hairy’ wool, Dr Dry was only breeding them for research. However in the 1970s Drysdale wool became very popular for producing carpets as the high percentage of hair meant that these carpets produced less static electricity.

    Sheep can be reared on a farm for two different reasons; for meat production or for wool production. The Drysdale sheep is a wool breed, which we don’t have at Sacrewell. The four breeds of sheep that we do have at Sacrewell are:

    Lincoln Longwool: This rare breed is a dual purpose sheep. It grows large, which is good for meat production, but is better known for its long, lustrous wool.

    Jacob Sheep: Another dual purpose sheep. The wool of a Jacob is popular for making clothing because each fleece has a different pattern of black and white.

    Suffolk Texel Cross: This breed is reared for meat production and you will often see them in large flocks on commercial farms.

    Soay Sheep: Although they are small, these sheep are hardy and tough as they are a very ancient breed. They are reared for their meat, which has a gamey flavour that is different to other sheep breeds.

    References

    http://www.explainthatstuff.com/how-static-electricity-works.html

    http://www.roysfarm.com/drysdale-sheep/

  • Joseph collects enough coins to buy a cow

    When nine year old Joseph Hardy asked his mum what happens to all the coins in the mill stream at Sacrewell farm, she didn’t dismiss his question. “Let’s find out!” she said, and asked the next member of staff she came across, who happened to be Jill Judd.

    Jill explained that the coins (which many visitors throw in whilst making wishes) become donations to the William Scott Abbott Trust, the charity which owns and looks after Sacrewell and is dedicated to connecting people with food, farming and the country way of life. When she mentioned to Joseph that the staff have to climb in the stream to fish the coins out, he was very keen to help out.

    So, after a few emails and risk assessments, Joseph and his mum Karen arrived at the farm on Sunday 21st May, armed with wellies and a spare change of clothes. They spent an hour in the mill stream, along with Jill, Dave and John from the Sacrewell team and collected as many coins as they could. Joseph was amazed how many foreign coins they came across (he later counted that there were 26) and the most interesting find was that the new £1 coins that were found had become severely discoloured after just a short time in the water.

    After changing their wet socks, Jill took Joseph, his mum and his younger brother Isaac to see the new calves that have recently been purchased by Sacrewell. Karen was surprised to hear that the two Friesian calves (Harry and Ron) had cost £40 each and the Aberdeen Angus cross (Neville) cost £180. The team wondered if they’d collected enough coins to cover the cost of a cow.

    With the heavy bowls tucked under their arms, Joseph, Isaac, Karen and Jill headed indoors for the long task of counting. Isaac proved to be particularly good at spotting the 20 pence pieces whilst Joseph preferred the higher value coins. In the end, the total came to £177.64, enough for four Friesians or nearly enough to pay for Neville.

    Karen said “It’s been great for Joseph to find out the answer to his question. We’d love to come and help again but don’t mind if someone else would like to have a go”.

    If you’d like to donate some time or some money to the William Scott Abbott Trust, you can get in touch with Sacrewell by emailing info@sacrewell.org.uk. We’re always looking for new volunteers and are happy to have your help even if it’s only for a few hours. If you’re able to make a more regular commitment, take a look at our more detailed volunteer role profiles.

  • Birthday Parties at Sacrewell

    We’re extending our offer for celebrating your birthday at Sacrewell.

    Alongside our popular Playbarn Party Paddock offer, you can now book a self-catered Playbarn party and we’ll also be offering three different outdoor birthday party packages this summer.

    Reserve your special date by emailing us or giving us a call on 01780 782254.

    Self-catered Playbarn Party

    • Reserved space in the Playbarn for up to twenty children, for two hours (10:30 -12:30 or 14:30 – 16:30)
    • Admission to the farm for each child for the full day (adults admission not included)
    • Downloadable invitations
    • Only £135

    Farm Party

    • Available Saturdays and Sundays only, from 2pm till around 4:30pm
    • Tractor ride and farm tour with your dedicated Sacrewell Party Leader (First Aid Qualified)
    • Downloadable invitations including free admission for each child to the farm for one future visit
    • Maximum of fifteen children and four adults (at least two adults are required to stay for the party)
    • £210

    Bushcraft Party

    • Available Saturdays and Sundays only, from 2pm till around 4:30pm
    • Private den building and marshmallow toasting sessions with your dedicated Sacrewell Party Leader (First Aid Qualified)
    • Downloadable invitations including free admission for each child to the farm for one future visit
    • Maximum of fifteen children and four adults (at least two adults are required to stay for the party)
    • £165

    Nature Party

    • Available Saturdays and Sundays only, from 2pm till around 4:30pm
    • Bug hunting and pond dipping sessions with your dedicated Sacrewell Party Leader (First Aid Qualified)
    • Downloadable invitations including free admission for each child to the farm for one future visit
    • Maximum of fifteen children and four adults (at least two adults are required to stay for the party)
    • £165
  • Do bees sleep?

    Each week, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free tractor ride for a child and accompanying adult, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Tammy Fitzohn’s four year old.

    Yes they do!

    When bees fall asleep, a bee’s legs start to flex and it brings its head to the floor. The antennae stops moving and if a bee is really tired it sometimes fall over sideways. Many bees held each other’s legs as they slept, or the legs are folded beneath the body.

    Honeybees sleep between five and eight hours a day. But the sleep pattern depends on their age and their role.

    A forager bee tends to sleep in day-night cycles like we do, with more sleep at night when darkness prevents their excursions for pollen and nectar. That foragers sleep in obvious patterns probably indicates the huge physical demand that foraging places on them. They mainly sleep in the hive, but occasionally they will fall asleep in flowers only to fly away when disturbed.

    Young bees sleep for shorter periods, and not in the day-and-night rhythm so often seen in foragers. In a study conducted by Eban-Rothschild and Block (2008) which describes the different sleep patterns seen in young bees versus foragers;  the youngsters moved back and forth between light, medium and deep sleep even when it had looked as if they were about to wake up. Once foragers wake in the morning they remain active until sunset, but the youngsters only woke for several hours at a time before dozing off again. The older bees had a well-defined sleep pattern that the youngsters lacked. Here’s another video of bees and their sleep patterns:

    But why do bees sleep?

    A tired bee can’t communicate properly when giving other bees direction to a food source. This means that if the bees are sent off in the wrong direction for the food, they waste time and energy.

    Sleep-deprived honeybees find it difficult to return to the hive when visiting new flower patches. The bees then spend more time figuring out how to get home, or get lost permanently.

    Bees needs sleep to consolidate memories too, just like humans. Without a good night’s sleep, then, honeybees start to forget the activities that should be second nature to them. Learning is reinforced during deep-sleep, just like we would expect in humans.

    References

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/earth/story/20160621-do-bees-dream

    https://honeybeesuite.com/do-honey-bees-sleep-of-course-they-sleep/

  • Why do we drink milk and make cheese with milk that comes from cows, sheep and goats but not pigs?

    Each week, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free tractor ride for a child and accompanying adult, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Elowen, Emily Doidge’s daughter.

    It’s difficult to milk a pig!

    Cows, sheep and goats have udders, and can be milked by hand into a bucket. In comparison, pigs have up to 14 small teats, where they eject the milk for only fifteen seconds at a time (the ejection time of a cow is well over ten minutes). Getting even such a small amount of milk requires enormous dexterity, skill and speed. “When sows are lactating, they get very aggressive. They’re not docile like cows. They’re smart, skittish, suspicious, and paranoid.” Edward Lee, the chef and owner of 610 Magnolia, has been experimenting with making cheese from pig milk. He managed to get a few jars of pig milk by creeping up on the sows whilst they were sleeping, frantically pinched at their tiny nipples, then ran away when they woke up. There isn’t a pig milking machine because the demand to make one isn’t there, and because milking a sow by hand is incredibly difficult it’s not very popular.

    Pig milk:  it’s expensive

    Sows produce on average only 6 litres of milk a day, whereas a dairy cow can produce anything from 20 – 45 litres a day depending on the breed. Given the amount of milk that would be needed to make money on some pig cheese compared to the amount of care and cost associated with raising and maintaining a sow for milk (which does not produce a great deal of milk anyway), it isn’t very economical. A family-run farm in the Netherlands has produced the world’s first cheese made from pig milk and it sold for £1500 a kilo, although due to the huge numbers of man-hours required they said that it was probably a one-time thing.

    What does pig milk and cheese taste like?

    Pig milk, at eight and a half percent butterfat, is exceptionally rich and the proportions of components like water and lactose are like those of cow milk. Lee managed to make some ricotta from the pig’s milk which he said was ‘delicious’, and in Italy there’s a pig’s cheese called Porcorino. The farm in the Netherlands described the pig cheese as “chalky and a little bit salty” and compared to other cheeses “saltier and creamier, yet grainier”.

    For now, it doesn’t look like pig’s milk or pigs cheese is on the table in the UK. In other cultures, dairy products come from a range of animals including camels, water buffalo, horses and yaks. In the West, goats, sheep and cows have been domesticated between 10,000 B.C. and 8000 B.C. and all three have since been bred to improve temperament and output. We really liked Benjamin Phelan’s article which explains why these three animals in particular were so popular in the dairy industry, and goes into much more detail about dairy animals from other cultures.

    References

    Others’ Milk

    Dairy Farming basics

    The rarest tuscan cheese

    Would you pay £1,500 for a kilogram of cheese made from PIG milk? Dutch farm becomes the first in the world to sell the bizarre product

    Why is there cow cheese but no pig cheese?

    To Milk a Pig: One Chef’s Obsession

  • Why do tractors have smaller wheels at the front and larger wheels at the back?

    Each week, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free tractor ride for a child and accompanying adult, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Shaun Coulam’s little boy.

    The word “tractor” is related to words like “traction” and “tractive,” from the Latin word “tractus” meaning drawing (pulling): a tractor is essentially a machine designed to pull things along, usually very slowly and surely.

    Tractors have large and powerful diesel engines and, in theory, that means they should be able to go incredibly fast, just like sports cars. But in a tractor, the engine’s power is designed to be used in an entirely different way: for pulling big and heavy loads. The tractor’s gearbox converts the high-speed revolutions of the mighty diesel engine into much lower-speed revolutions of the wheels, increasing the force the tractor can use for pulling things at the same time. A tractor’s incredible pulling power must come at the expense of speed.

    Most tractors have a two-wheel drive, with the large rear wheels driven from the engine (the rear wheels are the drive-wheels and are connected to the drive shaft) and the smaller front wheels are used for steering. We explore some of the benefits of a two wheel drive below.

    Grip or Traction

    Farm tractors spend a lot of their life working in muddy, bumpy fields. If you’ve ever been in car that has driven over a muddy field, you will know that the car slips around on the surface of the mud, or it gets stuck. A large tyre on a tractor has much better grip pads that can ‘bite’ into the ground, as well as a large surface area that distributes weight more evenly which means the traction is a lot better. Also, because a tractor is usually pulling things, the heavy weight behind it pushes the rear wheels down, increasing their grip by providing more contact and less slippage.

    Steering

    The two smaller wheels at the front have a much better steering radius which means it’s easier to turn sharp corners. This is really important to cover the maximum area of the field while carrying out different jobs like ploughing, sowing and harvesting. Being light weight and small is also really beneficial for ease of control.

    Visibility

    The large rear wheels of the tractor fix the driver’s seat at a higher elevation which ensures good visibility of the nose of the tractor and the corners of the field it ploughs.

    Cost

    Small tyres cost less than larger tyres, and therefore it is much cheaper to replace small tyres that the very expensive big ones! It’s worth noting that because the rear tyres have a much thicker tread that they don’t need to be replaced as often as the front ones.

    Weight distribution

    Having the driving axle higher above the ground means the tractor can pull more weight without the front of the tractor rising up. It works like a lever, where twice the height means twice the maximum pulling force before the tractor tips over (see the illustration below, image credit: Peteris)

    It’s also worth mentioning that this works the other way too. A tractor engine is very heavy and is located at the front of a tractor, potentially causing it to tip nose first. Larger heavier wheels at the rear of the tractor distribute this weight more evenly to counter a heavy front.

    Soil conservation

    Tractors are used to prepare the ground before the seeds are sowed, as well as throughout the crops life to maintain healthy plants. A farmer needs to look after the soil as well as the crop. Because the rear tyres have a much larger surface area (they are larger in diameter and width), the weight of the tractor is distributed across a larger area and the tyres don’t compress the soil as much (plants won’t grow as well in compacted soil).

    References

    https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/145571/dying-question-tractor-wheels-large-vs-small

    http://www.explainthatstuff.com/tractors.html

    http://megaanswers.com/why-does-a-tractor-have-different-sizes-of-wheels-in-the-front-and-back/

    https://www.researchgate.net/post/Why_are_the_rear_wheels_of_a_tractor_made_bigger

    https://www.quora.com/Why-do-some-vehicles-have-small-wheels-in-the-front-and-big-wheels-in-the-rear

    https://www.crazyengineers.com/threads/why-do-tractors-have-big-wheel-at-rear-and-small-ones-at-front.60053/

  • Sacrewell needs you!

    A new opportunity has arisen to develop your career and gain fantastic experience as the Commercial and Business Development Manager at Sacrewell Farm and Country Centre, which is the visitor face of the William Scott Abbott Trust, a highly respected farming and countryside education charity in operation since 1964.

    We are looking for an enthusiastic Head of Department with a commercially focused approach to take on this challenge. You’ll be ready for your next step on the career ladder, and looking for ways to grow a diverse business with huge potential.

    What it’s like to work here

    Sacrewell Farm and Country Centre is set within 550-acres of farmland, mostly being farmed by our tenants Riverford Organic Farmers. Our vision is to create a thriving, innovative and enterprising farming education and rural skills “centre of excellence”, and we are looking for creative hard-working people who will bring ideas and energy to the property. The property is situated a short distance from young, lively and diverse Peterborough, meaning the role offers a rare opportunity to work in the country, but live in the city or one of the area’s beautiful small towns and villages.

    This is an exciting time to join our organisation.  The Trust is actively implementing our new vision and strategy, and starting on a period of ambitious change.  We are seeking an experienced and dynamic Commercial and Business Development Manager to implement Sacrewell’s growth strategy to reach more audiences and extend the Trust’s impact in the field of countryside education for all ages.

    This is a unique opportunity for a motivated and strategic leader who has commercial experience gained in the visitor attraction or charity sector. The Commercial and Business Development Manager will be critical in developing and implementing the growth strategy for Sacrewell Limited, which currently includes our shop, camping, parties/functions and popular Playbarn soft play area. This is a new role at Sacrewell and as a key member of the senior management team you will make a significant impact in an organisation whose purpose is to connect people to farming and the countryside.

    The rewards are excellent both professionally and financially. In addition to an excellent salary (up to £27K, with an opportunity for bonus for meeting/exceeding KPIs) and benefits package, relocation support may also be available to applicants not currently residing in the area.

    Please send a CV and covering letter, outlining why you are suitable for this role to: jobs@sacrewell.org.uk, with the subject CBD Manager application.

    The closing date for all applications: 5pm, 16 June with interviews scheduled for 29 June 2017. Due to the anticipated high volume of applications, we are unable to notify unsuccessful applicants. If you have not been notified of the outcome of your application within four weeks of the closing date, please assume you have been unsuccessful on this occasion.

    Please note that there will be a second round of interviewing whereby successful candidates will be asked to deliver a presentation to the senior management team and Board of Trustees.

    Download Role Profile

    Download William Scott Abott Trust Vision and Mission

  • How old is Sacrewell Farm?

    Each week, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free tractor ride for a child and accompanying adult, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Sarah-Jayne Muller’s little boys.

    The modern story of Sacrewell Farm starts in 1917 (one hundred years ago), when a man called William Scott Abbott came to Sacrewell as a tenant farmer. His new ideas for farming were so successful that his family was able to buy the whole 550 acre farm in 1929 (88 years ago). The photograph shows a map of the farm from around this time. William Scott Abbott thought it was important for people to learn about farming and forestry and invited people to visit Sacrewell. When he died, his wife set up the William Scott Abbott Trust so that his vision of encouraging farming and countryside education for all could continue. Sacrewell Farm has been owned by the William Scott Abbott Trust since it was set up in 1964 (53 years ago) and with your support this will continue in to the future.

    However, the land at Sacrewell has been used by people for a very long time. Archeological studies of the 550 acre site have found evidence of people living and working here in the Bronze Age, which was around four thousand years ago. During the Bronze Age, some people would have been farmers who kept cows, pigs and sheep and grew crops like wheat and barley. They had also learned to use horses for transport. We don’t know for sure that this is what the land was used for at Sacrewell, but it is possible that there has been farming on the site for around four thousand years.

    Archeologists have also found evidence of Iron Age people at Sacrewell (around 2800 years ago) and a Roman millstone which was dated to 43 AD (2060 years ago) and is the earliest evidence of a watermill on the farm.

    So this week’s question has more than one answer; it’s been one hundred years since William Scott Abbott first came to farm at Sacrewell, but there may have been people farming at Sacrewell for four thousand years.

    References:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/topics/z82hsbk

    Sacrewell timeline

  • Why do farmers use horses for rides and jobs instead of cows?

    Each week, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free tractor ride for a child and accompanying adult, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Rebecca McDonald’s three year old daughter:

    In different parts of the world, people have learned to ride and use the skills of a variety of large animals including elephants, ostriches and yaks, so it seems that culture and tradition are the real reasons why British farmers have chosen to favour horses over cows.

    We are unsure when horses were first domesticated, but it is thought that in the beginning they were kept as a source of meat. They are still bred for this in some countries today.

    There is evidence of horse riding in China in 4000BC and the first horse riders probably found that these creatures could carry them further and faster than other animals. They are also more surefooted than cows, which makes them better for transport in unfamiliar places. Since then, selective breeding has created breeds of horses with the right characteristics for a variety of tasks such as the stocky Suffolk Punch with its ability to pull heavy loads, the Shetland Pony which was perfect for working as a pit pony due to its small stature and the Dales Pony with its high stamina for long distance journeys.

    If you would like to use a cow for rides and jobs around the farm, it is possible to train them, as demonstrated in these articles about teenage girls in Germany and Australia.

    References:

    http://www.rbst.org.uk/Rare-and-Native-Breeds/Equine

    http://www.horsebackridingguide.com/historyofhorses.html

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-16/breaking-in-cows/5392256

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/apr/06/cow-german-girl-rides-show-jumps

  • Where does the name ‘Jacob’ sheep come from?

    Each week, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free tractor ride for a child and accompanying adult, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Caroline Mary Thomas

    You can easily spot the Jacob sheep at Sacrewell as they have piebald fleeces with brown and white patches and even the ewes have at least one pair of magnificent, curly horns.

    They are a very old breed of sheep and the story is that their name comes from the Bible (Genesis 30). Here it is mentioned that Jacob has a flock of spotted sheep which he takes with him when he moves from Mesopotamia (which includes modern day Syria) to Egypt. It is thought that the sheep would then have been brought from northern Africa to Spain and into the rest of Europe.

    It does seem likely that these hardy sheep originated in the Middle East and were brought into Europe via Spain. There are written records of both ‘Jacob sheep’ and ‘Spanish sheep’ in the UK in the nineteenth century.

    Jacob sheep are prized for their fleeces which produce wool that naturally varies in colour and so can be used by knitters and weavers to create items that are completely unique.

    References:

    http://www.jacobsheepsociety.co.uk/

    http://www.jacobsheepconservancy.com/

    http://www.jsba.org/history.htm

  • What do you do with all the poo the animals produce?

    Each week, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free tractor ride for a child and accompanying adult, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Lindsey McRury:

    Dealing with the poo that our animals produce is a daily task at Sacrewell farm, so we’re very glad to be asked this question. If you’d like to give us a hand with mucking out the stables, poo-picking in the goat paddocks or cleaning out the chicken coop, we’re always happy to recruit new volunteers!

    Animal excrement is full of amazing organic matter so makes great fertiliser. However, it can also contain things which we don’t want to pass back into the food chain so it must be treated with care. The poo produced at Sacrewell all makes its way to our large muck heap in a field, away from the main visitor route, where it sits for around a year. During this time, insects, microorganisms and bacteria will break down the poo, releasing the nutrients that help the plants to grow and reducing the risk of any pathogens or diseases being passed on.

    The resulting, beautiful compost is then spread onto the fields farmed by Riverford, helping their delicious organic vegetables to grow.

    If you’re interested in turning your own animal poo into compost, there are a few things to consider. Herbivores, such as horses and cows, produce poo with nutrients in the right ratio for most plants to thrive, whilst omnivores such as pigs and chickens tend to produce poo with a very high nitrogen content. This needs to be left to break down for longer and mixed with other materials, such as the straw from animal bedding, to ensure the right balance of nutrients for the plants to grow. Carnivores, such as cats and dogs, produce poo that is likely to contain pathogens that will make humans sick, so we don’t recommend using carnivore poo for composting.

    References:

    http://modernfarmer.com/2015/05/get-a-load-of-our-manure-guide/

  • Sacrewell Seedlings

    We’re excited to announce a new club at Sacrewell for two to four year olds. Sacrewell Seedlings will offer toddlers the chance to learn about food, farming and its connection with nature.

    We will meet each Wednesday morning during term times, from 10:00am till 11:30am. Children will be offered the chance to take part in a range of activities including growing salads, bug hunting and a mud kitchen. We will have an outdoor experience whatever the weather, so expect to get wet and muddy. The sessions will cost £5 per child (with no charge for accompanying adults) and include free admission to the farm for that child for the remainder of the day.

    Each session will have a variety of activities around a theme. The themes for the first five sessions are:

    Week 1 (26th April): Planting the first seeds

    Week 2 (3rd May): Minibeasts in the garden

    Week 3 (10th May): Birds in the garden

    Week 4 (17th May): Farm animals

    Week 5 (24th May): Food from the farm – Pizza Making

    If you’d like to book one of the limited places, please phone us on 01780 782254 or email info@sacrewell.org.uk.

  • Why don’t you grow carrots at Sacrewell?

    Each week, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free tractor ride for a child and accompanying adult, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Natalie White’s six year old son.

    We do!

    Carrots grow best in light, sandy soil as this allows their long roots to develop as they seek water and nutrients from deeper down in the ground. If the soil in your garden isn’t like this, you could try growing short rooted varieties of carrots in a container.

    Riverford Organic Farmers manage most of the 500 acres of fields at Sacrewell and grow the vegetables that you see from your tractor ride to sell through their organic box scheme. They have four farms across the UK and also work with several smaller producers. Riverford get most of their carrots from a co-op farm in Devon, but do grow some in the fields at Sacrewell.

    The vegetables you will see around Sacrewell from season to season. Our soil is particularly suitable from growing brassicas. Why not go for a walk along our blue or red ramble routes and see if you can spot any of these?

    Onions                         Kohlrabi                      Broad Beans               Beetroot

    Chard                          Cabbages                     Kale                             Leeks

    Spinach                       Spring Greens             Lettuce                        Purple Sprouting Broccoli

    References:

    https://www.riverford.co.uk/shop/fruit-veg/veg/carrots-1kg

  • Why has someone drawn on the sheep?

    Each week, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free tractor ride for a child and accompanying adult, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Aimee Butler.

    Whilst farmers love and care for their sheep, they can find it difficult to tell them apart, especially on large farms which can have thousands of sheep. Various methods of marking the sheep allows the farmer to identify individuals in amongst the flock.

    In some hilly parts of the UK the sheep graze on open, unfenced ground where the flocks from different farms can get mixed up. Farmers in these parts put a pattern called a smit mark onto their sheep so that they can tell at a distance which ones belong to them. Traditionally this smit mark would have been made using natural oils and pigments, such as iron ore or powdered stone, whilst modern farmers use specially produced chemical dyes in a variety of colours.

    At Sacrewell our sheep don’t mix with any other flocks, but we still use marking crayons or paint brands to help us identify individual sheep at different times of the year.

    In spring, we might use paint brands to help us identify which lambs belong to which ewes when we put them out into the paddocks. If they all have the same number or colour on them, it’s easy to spot who belongs to who. We also mark our cade lambs to help us keep track of which ones have been bottle fed and which are the next in line.

    In autumn, when we run the rams with the ewes, we might also put tie a paint pad onto the ram’s stomach. This means that when he mates with a ewe, he leaves his mark and we can move the ewes around to ensure that each one gets his attention.

    At other times of the year we might mark our sheep to show which ones have been given medication, which ones are the right weight to sell at market or which ones need to be moved to a different field.

    So there are lots of different reasons why it might look like someone has drawn on a sheep. If you spot one on the farm, we suggest you have a look around and a think about the season to see if you can guess what that particular mark is for.

    References:

    https://quillcards.com/blog/smit-marks-to-identify-sheep/

    http://www.sheep101.info/201/recordkeeping.html

  • How often are the cade lambs fed?

    Each week, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free tractor ride for a child and accompanying adult, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Amanda Jaggard’s five year old son.

    The short answer to this question is that our cade lambs are fed five times a day, with their first meal as early as 6am and their last around 10pm. We like to let the public watch their feeds as part of our lamb shows, so check the timetable for these at reception if you’re coming to visit in spring. You can find out a bit more about how we care for our cade lambs in this video.

  • Why do eggs have different colours?

    Each week, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free tractor ride for a child and accompanying adult, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Monika Budakiewicz:

    Our egg collection at Sacrewell shows that eggs come in a wide variety sizes and colours. This can be because of the size of the bird, their nesting behaviour and the environment that they naturally live in.

    You might expect, therefore, that all farmed chickens would lay a similar colour of egg, but this is not the case. Different breeds of chicken lay distinctly different colours of egg, and even within an individual breed there can be variation in the shade.

    Some examples are:

    Chicken Breed Egg Colour
    Araucana Green/blue
    Ancona White/cream
    Barnevelder Brown
    Frizzle White/tinted
    Lincolnshire Buff Tinted
    New Hampshire Red Brown
    Orpington White/tinted

    Hybrid chickens are not pure bred and so it can be difficult to predict which colour their eggs might be. One clue can be found by looking inside an individual hen’s ears. Hens with pale ears lay pale eggs, whilst hens with dark ears lay darker eggs. The colour of a hen’s feathers does not relate to the colour of their eggs.

    Changes in diet and stress levels can cause one chicken to produce eggs which are different shades on different days, but this would only be a small change in shade rather than a pronounced switch between different colours.

    References:

    https://poultrykeeper.com/chicken-breeds/

  • Changes to Animal Food

    We know our visitors love to get close to our farm animals by offering them some food, but there are times of the year when we have to put the needs of our animals first. We are therefore sadly announcing that there will be no animal feeding for visitors at Sacrewell for the next few months.

    It is normal practice for us to stop animal feeding during lambing season as we want to keep a close eye on what our new born lambs and their mothers are eating. There is also an increased risk of diseases such as chlamydiosis and toxoplasmosis spreading from sheep to humans during the lambing period, so we discourage close contact as a way to manage this risk.

    This year our decision to stop animal feeding has also been influenced by the government guidelines on avian influenza which is a disease spread by wild birds. Here at Sacrewell, we are not in a higher risk area, so our chickens can go out into their fenced enclosures. Stopping animal feeding helps us to keep the risk of contact between wild birds and our chickens as low as possible.

    Keep an eye on the website for news of when animal feeding comes back on the agenda in early summer, as well as updates on our lambs.

  • Are you a small, local business or do you enjoy making items at home?

    Here at Sacrewell, we love to support our local businesses; we already support our local bakery, honey supplier and butchers. We’d like to extend this further so we are offering you, our local community, the chance to have your items stocked in our shop. We are looking for homeware, giftware and unique products.

    We are also holding a ‘Small Business Saturday’ on Saturday 29th April where we are reaching out to the local community and inviting small businesses and producers of handmade goods to hold a stall at the farm.

    If you are interested in having your products stocked in the shop or having a stall at ‘Small Business Saturday,’ please email Siobhan with details and pictures of your products. You can download a Small Business Saturday stall booking form here.