One morning this week, we headed over to Gazegill Farm near Rimington, to take part in a Hedgerow Safari.
Gazegill is an open farm: you can go to see the milking, visit their farm shop, buy plants from their poly tunnels and go in bat walks at dusk. You can wander around and see the calves and piglets. They are also investing in their education programme, and they have a really well-equipped classroom. After meeting some of the staff at the Clitheroe Food Festival, I booked Ben and I onto one of their hedgerow safaris.
The safari was scheduled to start at 10am, but there were a few delays and we didn’t actually set off until at least half past. This wasn’t too bad – there was a lot to see and look at while we were waiting.
Our guide, Emma, took us into the fields equipped with bug jars with magnifying glasses, nets and pooters- an ingenious device which allows you to suck an insect into a pot to look at. Ben was very keen on this one!
While the children spread out, we meandered along the edges of the fields, examining hedges, thistles, grasses and trees for insects. The children loved finding all kinds of flies, spiders, aphids, beetles, butterflies and so on. Gazegill is an organic farm, so there’s no worry about chemicals or insecticides.
We also examined a number of humane traps, although our most exciting discovery was probably a huge slug! Later on, we crossed a small stream, and Ben went with an older boy to wade in the stream in his wellies.
In the next field, we used the nets to sweep grasses and bushes. These were then tipped out and the contents were examined. Again, the children were fascinated by the insects that they found. We had 3 members of staff with us, so there was always someone to show your creature to – and the staff were so kind to Ben who was mostly interested in sucking up very common flies!
The most exciting discovery came a bit further down the stream – one member of staff had taken some of the older children off to investigate. They discovered a young toad, and also some baby shrews. The toad was very happy to be held by a number of small children, and the shrews were so tiny and almost half-formed. They were quickly returned to the mother.
After a good hour of bug-hunting, Ben had had enough, and was frantic for his lunch. We cut our safari a bit short and went back to eat our picnic. We were joined by two gorgeous collie dogs, including a puppy, which delighted him. After we had finished, a staff member came over and asked if we had seen the calves in the shed. These were sweeter calves (and pigs with piglets) than I’ve seen in other farm parks, and they were very happy to watch Ben dance around in the straw.
This whole event was totally free, and really well-run, but it seems to be quite hard to find out about – they’re not advertised anywhere on the website or social media. We had a flier at Clitheroe Food Festival which was the only way I’d have known about it. I think the only way to get in the loop is to phone the farm and ask what’s coming up!
I’m linking up this post with What’s Happened? What’s Happening? – I missed the last one so I’m getting in early with this one!