And so it’s back to the familiar round of lectures, coffee, bacon butties and more coffee. It hardly feels like we’ve been away from college for more than a couple of days.
That said, there have been a lot of changes to campus over the summer with last year’s construction work largely completed and yet more projects on the go. There are three new food outlets, a state-of-the-art sports building and a mini zoo is fast on its way to completion, with rumours of giant guinea pigs being among the future residents.
Another change has been the replacement of the old Nescafé coffee machine with a more expensive younger model. “Nessie”, as some of us had affectionately come to know her, is a sad loss.
The first week was about induction lectures and enrolment, but we’re promised a big step up from last year in the standards and amount of work expected. Whereas flawed referencing was fairly forgivable last year, it will amount to a “fail” this time round, however good the actual work is. Deadlines are non-negotiable and crashing computers and lost memory sticks are no excuse.
While the academic side of the course toughens up, we’ll now have the opportunity to get some practical training and qualifications as well. Our course manager, Colin Dennis, has been working this summer to make the course a better deal for us. The result was a meeting, of all three years of the agriculture degree course, to discuss and apply for any practical training individuals wanted.
It was a very positive way to start the year, with the opportunity to tailor the course to fit the individual and their goals rather than the other way round.
Some may be surprised to hear that we’ll only have two lecture days in the week. I’ve got used to farmers calling us “part-timers”. However, we’re promised that there will be enough assignment work, practical training classes and work placement hours to fill in our time.
After finishing this article, I’ll be writing about island biogeography theory and how it relates to the design of the Environmental Stewardship programme. After that, I’ll be digging out figures on liver fluke prevalence and working on a proposal for an independent project about new entrants to farming.
With training for the PA01 spraying theory test tomorrow, a Malton sheep sale and work at a beef suckler farm to fit in, a trip to the Wasdale Show and Shepherd’s Meet in the Lakes will finish off an eventful week.
Any farm work I do provides a link to the past summer which seems to have been squashed into such a small space of time. Just the past month has been another one of firsts for me. Leading straw and power harrowing resulted in a few dropped bales and wobbly lines in the fields. “Everyone has to start somewhere,” I’ve been told more times than I can remember.
At the end of the first week at college, I was back on farm. But this time I was apple picking at a college friend’s home. James had managed to entice recruits with the promise of generous pay and fish and chips. How could someone refuse? I’m now seeing apples every time I close my eyes.
So with a new college year to concentrate on now, and copious amounts of coffee to see us through, here’s a little anecdote to leave you with…
A little while ago, a farmer was talking about the ridiculous amount of repetitive red tape he has to deal with. He told me: “I used to be expected to jump through hoops, but nowadays I’m given a dustbin lid and told to jump through that.” Sums it up nicely, don’t you think?
Lizzie Jennings, 20, has just begun the second year of a two year-foundation degree course in Agriculture at Bishop Burton College in Yorkshire.