New term, fresh faces, and clean wellies! The new intake of students arrived last month, quiet and nervous, with scrubbed clean wellies and in at least one case a crisply-ironed boiler suit!
Thanks to the support of our teaching staff and the residential wardening team the students have quickly settled into college life, and I am pleased to report that early morning and weekend duties on our farm have knocked the creases out of that boiler suit.
Like every farmer in Shropshire we have been working hard to mitigate the impact of the inclement weather.
Our Maxximus hybrid oil seed rape was drilled in to a good seed bed at a rate of 50 seeds/sqm.
The slug traps indicated, as suspected, that we must be vigilant against early damage.
The students are now busy ploughing the winter wheat ground, the Santiago seed is in store, so we hope to be drilling in the next few days, and will be guaranteed straight tram lines utilising the latest satellite technology to guide our new John Deere tractor.
As part of our exciting farm development plan we are increasing the number of sheep at Walford and aim to lamb 600 ewes in 2014. To this end our new shepherd Ollie Coombs visited both Shrewsbury and Welshpool markets in September adding four fine texel rams and 90 yearling Welsh mules to our flock. Judging by the raddle marks the rams have found plenty of willing ewes.
I was pleased to be told that one of last year’s agriculture students is doing so well in his new job on a large beef and sheep farm that the owners have asked if we have any more students available to work.
It is equally pleasing to know that once again many of our students achieved the very highest ‘triple distinction’ grade and have embarked on university courses across the country.
Despite only being a few weeks into the new teaching year our thoughts have already turned to September 2013 and recruiting learners.
The new prospectuses have been published, highlighting the very wide range of apprenticeships and full time courses offered at Walford, including floristry, countryside management and outdoor adventure sports.
Tomorrow is the first of our Open events when prospective learners and their families can visit the campus, check out our facilities and meet our staff. No wellies or boiler suits required!
Jon Parry is director at Walford and North Shropshire College