A Farming Adventure!
There’s only so much I can describe with words, if I could put you in a little box in my head with popcorn and a TV I don’t think you’d want to leave! I was the fortunate one out of the BTEC students that got to do my work placement overseas in a completely different environment. I worked in the United Kingdom on a dairy farm in a little town called Newent in Gloucestershire. To be honest I was terrified as the days got closer to my start date, I thought I was going to get lost or get abducted, but I quickly learnt English people are very kind when you ask for help.
Well… you better have a minute to spare because I know this article will be a bit long, but I was in the UK on my own with school permission and this was a rare opportunity, so bear with me!
On Sunday 15th April 2018, the last day of the Chengelo UK trip, I had to get from Oxford to Gloucester and all I had to do was take a train but there was no direct train. I almost ended up in Wales but I managed to find my way to the correct platform.
It was about 6:30pm when I eventually got there and it was still light! Usually in Zambia it’s dark by then, so 7:00pm was still afternoon to me there. (This is just to let you know I had to acclimatize to a very foreign and strange country, but indeed a beautiful country, just not as beautiful as Zambia of course.) Anyway moving on… by the way if you need more popcorn, pause for a second and resume.
So after I arrived I was picked up by Mr Ian Cracknell who was to be my boss and we went to church, yes church. I too was confused but it turned out to be an evening service and I had a great time and met a couple of Zambians who were very interested in my presence there.
I too was interested in their presence in a very cold country where the sun goes down later than 8PM, so we spent a few minutes smiling at each other and probably wondering why we were all there in the same place, I strongly believed God took me there to call them home but no, that wasn’t the case! I met up with one of the them a few times on my stay in Newent and we had a small Zambian gathering when we all met up and had lunch together. I met many other interesting people during my two week placement and they were all so kind and welcoming. Almost all of them I met were amazed to hear of where I came from, As I described my country to them they looked like they were lost in awe.
Don’t worry, this is the last bit of the article. During the two weeks I learnt how to milk cows using an automated milking machine in a herringbone parlour. I woke up at 4:00am on certain days to start milking and finished at 7:00pm on some days, so it was quite tough! Not the work so much, it was the waking up that was the hardest task! I was in charge of feeding the calves, observing and nurturing them and I also helped with lots of other small tasks around the farm. The most fun was driving the little tractor scraping muck to the slurry pit.
Apart from work I also took advantage of the different farms and features in the area. I visited Hartpury College and took a tour around; I visited a rotary parlour that milks 1000 cows; I also visited a farm that uses robotic milking machines where humans are not needed (apart from inputting data into a computer) and I took a walk up the highest hill in the area, Mayhill as it is known. I fell in love with the people and the place I was in. The family I stayed with, Ian and Julia Cracknell and one of their daughters Naomi were great hosts and amazing people to stay with; it was a blessing to meet them and stay with them.If I could go return I would definitely take the opportunity to because it was a fantastic experience and very educational. I believe I have benefited immensely from this experience and anyone else would too! I thank everyone that made it possible and hope more opportunities like this become available for other students.
Andrew James Ross