Driving Through History One Hole at A Time

We started off bright and early, not forgetting to get a much needed breakfast before we began our journey for the day. Once in a while god gives you the chance to make a lifetime decision, today was one of those chances I just couldn’t let go. After arriving in St.Andrews we visited the beach where we all got a chance explore and admire the wonders of the ocean. Once our ocean view needs were satisfied many of us separated into groups exploring St.Andrews history and boutiques.

Finally I was given the chance of a lifetime to play a game of 18 holes of golf on one of St.Andrews famous courses. Being a fan of golf and follower of many players this was a dream come true and a story that many of my friends and some family would be jealous of. I know we are nearing the end of this amazing journey so I just wanted to take the time to thank everyone on this trip from The Ohio State university for all the fun, friendship and every lasting memories

Moos, Views, and Ewes

We started today’s adventures bright and early with a stop at the Scotland’s Rural College Easter Howgate Farm. The farm features top of the line equipment and has a focus on livestock research. We met with Jamie Newbold, an Academic Director for SRUC to learn more about their research. They have trials that study feed efficiency,greenhouse gas emissions, genetics, and more.

Some of their equipment includes respiration chambers to measure gas emissions, feed tubs that track feed intake for each animal,and wearable sensors such as ear tag thermometers that can help detect illness. We were all impressed by all of the details that make Easter Howgate farm a leader in livestock research. We were later invited to the opening of SRUC’s new avian research center. Here broilers and turkeys will be studied for production efficiency, behavior, welfare, quality, and animal health. It was interesting to discuss the differences in production with event attendees from Scotland. Ryan, Zach and I even got to hear views about UK issues such as Brexit from our fellow tour group members.

Here is an example of a behavior study for broilers. It tests how likely the birds are to prioritize comfortably over feed.

Later, we had the opportunity to tour the King’s Buildings of SRUC’s campus. Much of SRUC’s endeavors are aimed towards education, consulting, and research. In fact, they consult with approximately 75% of Scotland’s active farmers. They are also the fastest growing college in the UK with 6 campuses, 848 further education students and 1516 higher education students.

To end the day, we tried our best to avoid sheep “landmines” in search of some beautiful views, and wow was is worth it!

Above is a photo of Scottish Blackface sheep at Eastside Farm in the Pentland Hills, about a half hour drive outside of Edinburgh. Eastside farm is about 1,230 hectares or over 3,000 acres that is home to about 1,880 sheep! Alistair Cowan shared how Brexit could negatively impact sheep farmers in the UK as there is not a strong market for the wool or the meat in the UK and much of both are exported. He explained that his farm has started to prepare by selling timber and by renovating former barns into cottages. We enjoyed roaming the farm, taking pictures, and taking in the beautiful scenery. Dr.Buck had to drag us all back onto the bus because none of us were ready to leave. I’m very tired but I’m excited to visit St.Andrews tomorrow!

From Flowers to Haggis

The day was full of adventure from an early morning tour of Edinburgh to a flower garden and an amazing Scottish dinner and show!

As we made our way we through the beautiful city of Edinburgh we were accompanied by a tour guide. Being extremely knowledgeable she pointed out all the hotspots and secrets the city had to offer. She showed us the Elephant Cafe, the birthplace of many of the Harry Potter books. The stories behind the city such as the university and town square. With her finale being a sneak peek about the Scottish castle and volcano, a place we will get to visit in a few days. I believe it’s safe to say that tour truly opened all of our eyes to the rich history and opportunity of both Edinburgh and to the country of Scotland.

After the tour, we made our way to “Explorers”, the Scottish plant hunters garden. Which there was so much to see. We first had the chance to see the cafe and store inside, getting a better understanding of the place we had arrived to. The garden was laid out by country of origin. Starting with New Zealand all the way to Japan. Covering seven total locations with thousands of plants. We got to learn the timeline and how many of the famous plants or flowers were brought to the UK and even who brought them. An example being Robert Fortune, a man responsible for many of the plants but the biggest one, especially to the UK, the tea plant from China. Such a fascinating experience, seeing such beautiful horticulture and landscaping along with learning a lot.

After a long bus ride home and a short stop at the hotel to change into something nicer, we headed to the Prestonfield House for the world famous dinner and show “the Scottish Taste.” We were first greeted by a bagpipe and traditional Scottish music. As we sat down, we went straight into the meal. For me, I was able to try their delicious goats’ cheese,  haggis, (with the show including a toast and ceremony specifically for haggis) roast vegetable terrin, Scottish borders Angus beef and Raspberry Mousse. Then after the meal began the show. Consisting of professional dancers, old and young, singers, and instruments like the accordion and Bodhran (Irish drum). The show and meal were incredibly put together and showed us the true essence of Scottish culture especially for the few of us (including myself) that were pulled from the audience to come up and dance with them!

Picture found from the website.

 

In conclusion, day eight was a blast and a half! While most of it may have been spent on the bus traveling or us trying to stay out of the rain it was a great time of conversation and bonding. It’s days like these I believe we will remember the most because of the relationships we build with each other. Plus, the amazing experience of the tour, garden, and dinner show. Today has set such an amazing tone for Scotland and I just can’t wait to see what tomorrow and the rest of the trip has to bring!

 

Ryan Matthews

 

Scootin’ to Scotland

“Oh would some power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us,” Robert Burns wrote in the poem To a Louse. We were privilege today to dive deeper into his story as we made our way to our final destination- Edinburgh. 

We began the day by packing our bags and headed up to Scotland. Our first stop was Ellisland. The home and farm of famous poet Robert Burns. Burns was given the farm when he was 20 years old. The farm dates back 250 years. For the time Burns owned the farm, Ellisland was more than triple the size of average farms in the country. Burns purchased Ayrshire cattle to milk. Which eventually became the worlds biggest milking cow. 

Burns was most inspired to write during his years at Ellisland. The scenery and way of life allowed us to put ourselves in the shoes of Burns.

From there we drove up the country side where we were surrounded by mountains and farms as far as the eye could see. We stopped the bus to take pictures of this indescribable scenery. Throughout our trip I have been intrigued at the way the United Kingdom has conserved their history while embracing change and innovation. The country does this with little land in comparison to the United States. 

We then ventured to The Scottish Farmer. This is the third publication we have visited during our time in the United Kingdom. The publication is smaller, but the history is richer. The company began 126 years ago and Ken Fleger has been the editor for 42 of those years. The Scottish Farmer is located in Glasgow, Scottland- the hub of Scottish agriculture. The publication sells roughly 14,500 copies weekly. Half of the copies are sent to subscribers and the the other half sold in stores or new stands around the country. At the peak of production they were selling 23,000 copies. However the decline in print copies is happening everywhere, including the United States. 

Fleger isn’t worried about print declining too much because farmers want something tangible to read in the morning with their cup of coffee. The Scottish Farmer has a different approach when it comes to putting content online. They do not have a special online team that creates new content specifically for social or the website. Instead, they post the stories online when deemed appropriate. 

“In ten years time [the paper] might not even be here but it depends on what [our] generation wants,” Fleger expressed.

Fleger’s biggest advice to our group, “don’t be a snowflake.”

Fleger sees the biggest problem with employees are they don’t want to stick things out through the hard times. However, jobs aren’t always fun and it is important to get through the harder times to rise to the top. 

As we settle into Edinburg, students are excited to finally have a place to stay awhile. We will be staying here for the remaining five nights until the end of our U.K. adventure. We will be soaking up as much of the Scotland culture as we can during our time in Edinburgh.

And that’s the tea for today. Cheers!

 

 

Hello, Hello, Hello from Liverpool!

This morning we departed from Stafford Upon Avon and began our journey toward Liverpool. We had about a two-hour bus ride to Liverpool, where we stopped for lunch and to visit some sights in the city. Liverpool is the home of The Beetles, so many of us spent time visiting museums and gift shops to learn about their hometown.

The Beetles statue from Liverpool!

A view from Liverpool!

In the afternoon we visited with Farmers Guardian, an agricultural publication is the northern portion of England. Here, we spoke with three individuals who work with the reporting, editing, and social media aspects of this publication. It was interesting to learn how this publication differed from Farmers Weekly, which we visited last week.

Farmers Guardian is published on Fridays and has an audience of about 30,000. They have been working the past few years to establish a social media presence and were able to walk us through this process. Learning about how they strategically think about what to publish in print vs what they post on social media and on the website was interesting to think about and how to alter or make changes to articles to attract different age groups and how to encourage more engagement.

We also discussed several agricultural issues that are in the UK and how these relate to the agricultural issues we have in the United States. We talked about the challenges we face communicating agriculture to the public and ways to work on this. It is interesting to hear the challenges we face in the U.S., such as consumer perception, agricultural literacy, and market prices, are also challenges they face here in the United Kingdom. One program they have implemented in the UK is “open farm Sunday” which is this coming Sunday. Farms across the UK can opt in and allow consumers to visit their farms for tours and to learn more about agricultural practices. This is one way they work to educate consumers about practices, policies and allow them a view of what farming looks like first-hand.

We loved learning about Farmers Guardian (and enjoying some biscuits)!

For dinner we ate at our hotel in Carisle. We are all very excited to make our way to Scotland tomorrow!

Cows, Bison, and Deer, Oh My!

Hello from Stratford-upon-Avon! It’s hard to believe that we are half way through our trip, but we still have some exciting stops throughout this week. Today we stopped at Hall Farm in Brentingby and spoke with Julia Hawley, and then traveled to Melton Mowbray to speak with George Waverely from Bouverie Lodge Farm.

Hall Farm is primarily a dairy farm of about 75 cows, which is small for a dairy farm in the United Kingdom. Additionally, they have a small flock of sheep. However, it is a larger farm for the United Kingdom with 275 acres of land. Most of the buildings on the property were built sometime in the 1600’s, according to Julia.

The cows all have a collar with an ID tag. The sensor in the tag can detect when the cow is in heat, when they are eating and drinking, and when they go in for milking. The dairy cows are not as tall as your typical dairy cow in the United States, and all the milk goes to a cheese company.

Most similarly to the United States, this dairy herd is Holstein Freisian, and are milked twice a day. Additionally, all the cows are artificially inseminated by Julia’s husband. They are also one of the first farms in the United Kingdom to use sex semen since its commercial release in 2000.

As many of you may know, the United States has a levy system that takes a certain percentage off of every product from an animal. For example Pork Checkoff, Beef Checkoff and Dairy Checkoff. Likewise, the United Kingdom has a similar program that benefits farmers around the country.

Bouverie Lodge Farm is a bison and deer farm in Melton Mowbray. George raises 120 bison on 250 acres of land. The animals are grass fed, and it takes around two years before they take the animals to market. The meat is sold directly to restaurants and local buyers as the farm’s target market.

We had the chance to eat lunch at the little diner at the farm. They had everything ranging from bison burgers, venison, to delicious apple pie, and warm brownies with ice cream. During our lunch, George spoke with us about the farm. He told us about a calf that  had been abandon. Usually, in this case the calf does not survive, luckily this one did due to George’s actions.

After George took us out to see the bison in the rain, we hopped back on the bus and headed back to Stratford-upon-Avon and had the rest to the night to ourselves. We are looking forward to heading to Liverpool, Preston, and Carlisle tomorrow.

This place Rocks!

We are about half way through our United Kingdom education abroad adventures. So far we have explored London and Bath, indulging in the culture and opening our eyes to a different world of agriculture.

Today we traveled south east, from Bath towards Stonehenge. This ancient wonder of the world remains as an unknown artifact. There is still very little we know about this circle of stones, such as:

* Why was it built?
* How did they build it?
* How did they transport the massive stones?

This 5,000 year old monument has stood the test of time. While there, students were able to see a remarkable piece of history, a testament of what humanity is capable of.

Emily Beal, a junior says, “its interesting that no one knows why it’s here or how it was built, but it’s cool to see it in person, when you’ve only ever seen it in pictures.”

All in all, Stonehenge rocked, pun intended!

Following this wonder, our group headed north to Stratford-Upon-Avon. The town where the famous writer William Shakespeare lived. Dating back centuries, one can see the river Avon run through this historic city.

With time to explore, students were able to dine at some local restaurants and stroll the city. Many students even attended one of William Shakespeare’s plays, “The Taming of the Shrew” at The Royal Shakespeare Company.

This play is about the relationship between a women of high status and an unpleasant man. The comedy shows how the women tricks the man into becoming obedient.

Student Alli Lee, a sophomore said, “I understood more than I thought I would.”

Although the play is dated and a bit hard to follow, students enjoyed seeing work by one of the most famous writers in history.


Photo taken by: Dr. Buck

Overall, today was a great day for students. Tomorrow we will tour various farms, getting back to our roots of agriculture.