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"We all learnt a great deal about Farming - it helped the children to understand the idea of Farming more. A real hands on experience!"

By Reading School Year 4 teacher



Latest from blog

June 2022

June 2022

7 Jun 2022

It has been a busy week with school visits and camps for the...


Farmer John’s Blogs

14 May 2020

It is really significant news when you hear that Yattendon Estates have only just finished drilling on over 5000 acres and it is the 5th May.  There is a saying in farming that the difference between a good and bad farmer is one week.  Usually spring planting is completed by the end of March but, with an exceptionally wet autumn and winter, very little was done and the land has subsequently taken a long time to dry out.  So, the spring crops are drilled and several cuckoos locally have noisily proclaimed that it is “cuckoo barley” i.e. you might get a crop but you might not.

14 Apr 2020

It seems to have escaped the notice of some parts of our world that we are in crisis.  The bluebells have emerged strong and beautiful after buckets full of rain in February.  The River Pang is flowing fast and confidently, so clear and clean, good enough to drink

March 2020

13 Mar 2020

Yesterday I was driving through East Ilsey when there was a wave and a shout from a much loved and familiar friend.  Iain Jermey was having a day off from fencing, and clearing up after pruning some apple trees.  Helping him was Kyle Wray, completely fixed on the job in hand.

21 Feb 2020

Some time ago my sister sent me a very splendid tea cosy: Black Welsh Mountain wool from Rushall Farm made into felt, decorated with leaf shaped patches of leather.  I chose my moment of quiet and put it on my head. My daughter burst into the room telling me I had got it on the wrong way round.  I remember another occasion

28 Jan 2020

On the shortest day last year the birds began to sing at dawn and again at dusk. Two weeks later some hazel catkins were fully out and honey suckle leaves were green. Mosses and lichens around the base of woodland trees were alive and vibrant, while a whole range of fungi survived to decorate rotting timber in an array of bright colours nestled in beds of fallen leaves.


27 Nov 2019

A few years ago, I was at a sheep meeting organised by a national livestock feed company. After very long deliberations about the benefit their brand “Ewebol”, a token farmer was there as a speaker to reinforce their message.  He stood up and said four words “You’ve gotta like sheep”. He was right! And those words sustained me over 40 years of shepherding 800 ewes.   You have got to like sheep because you think about them most of the time and have to look after and care for them every day.  Sheep need a shepherd, whether that is to help them lamb, roll them over when they get stuck on their backs, deal with their lame feet, shear them or find them when they get out.

October 2019

22 Oct 2019

Lindsay and I met at Reading University in 1967.  We were both studying Agriculture.  Four years later we got married and Lindsay worked for the University Farms presenting data and I became assistant farm manager on one of those farms, Churn Estates.  My experience of large-scale arable farming was very limited, so with cereals, potatoes, peas and sugar beet to harvest, as well a huge industrial machine to dry lucerne and a lot of pigs and sheep, it was all quite a challenge.

September 2019

24 Sep 2019

Today eighteen mainly young people from the international accountancy firm Ernst & Young came to Rushall Manor for the day.  They are encouraged to take two volunteering days each year as part of their contract.  If everyone took up this opportunity, the 500 strong work force based in Reading could contribute 1000 days into charitable projects in and around Berkshire.

July 2019

19 Jul 2019

Last weekend 105 scouts and 25 leaders descended on Rushall Manor for the second of two preparation camps.  They are heading off to Uganda over summer on a three-week expedition, helping construct a school, with a safari at the end of their stay.  On the first camp they were learning to lay bricks, basic carpentry and manual skills.  This camp was focusing on team building including a drumming workshop, tomahawk throwing, archery, first aid, staying healthy and learning to be self-reliant for food and cooking it! They also had to fill potholes on the farm tracks, sort out some trees across footpaths and clear the scrub and piles of decaying timber and accumulated stuff from the improved workshop at Oaklands.

June 2019

4 Jul 2019

At Rushall Manor work on Oaklands Yard is progressing rapidly, with July as the likely completion date. The building was planned to meet the needs of young people coming from two local special schools. We had found that the facilities at Rushall Manor have been restricting the benefit of their time here. Oaklands offers the opportunity to provide their special place which is accessible for all in a secure space where we will have the opportunity to develop current activities and new ones including raised vegetable beds, beehives, woodland products and a greenhouse. We also see it as a place where children who are not thriving in the classroom can have their needs addressed.

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