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Author Topic: To all Scottish smallholders on TAS - views sought by SAC.  (Read 8472 times)

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
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To all Scottish smallholders on TAS - views sought by SAC.
« on: February 13, 2012, 08:15:15 pm »
Please see below an extract of an email I have received from Scottish Agricultural Colleges. It would be good to give them some good TAS feedback.

It's a bit short notice, so please fire away and I'll pass your comments on to Caroline.

"We want to find out if there are any specific products or services that you or your forum members particularly wish to see provided or developed in Scotland. As you probably know, there are many DEFRA-subsidised courses in England and Wales for smallholders, laboratories that will do worm count yearly packages, advisory and consultancy agencies that will help produce mini-health plans or mini-farm production packages for the small farmer and other useful services. Scotland may have lagged behind a little in support and a services network for smallholders, and we would like to hear your views on which services you would like to see offered. If at any time in the last couple of years you or one of your fellow-members has said “Oh, I wish they did that up here....” please do drop us a line!
 
Of course, we are also aware that your are providing courses yourself already, and are likely to develop more – it is in our mission statement to support and work with existing rural businesses, and not in competition with them. This includes local vet practices as well – any advisory work etc would need to be done with the blessing and/or at the request of or in conjunction with local vets. We are not interested in treading on anyone else’s toes or edging into the patch of any local rural businesses – we have worked in this way for many years now. This is one of the many reasons that we would be grateful for your input.
 
There will be a project meeting in around ten days which will discuss whether there is any demand for smallholder support in Scotland. Proposals include, but are not limited to, subsidised diagnostic packages at local laboratories, veterinary or management courses on lambing, sheep keeping/disease, suckler cattle, pigs, sustainable food production, environmentally friendly practices, an advice website run in conjunction with your local vets (providing advice on management and veterinary issues and allowing smallholders to find out whether a vet visit is the best option or whether there are other things that are sensible to try first), online courses and/or mini-qualifications, and last but not least, access to farm business consultants, farm management consultants and veterinarians specifically interested in either small-scale production or  ethical and as-organic-as-possible family self-sufficiency. Emphasis would perhaps be more on veterinary issues such as welfare and disease, especially on best-practice management to prevent disease and enhance good welfare. Ground management etc may also be a possibility.
 
We would emphasise that the SAC are an organisation providing support and consultancy to local vets, and never in competition with these local practices. We would also be aiming to provide support and consultancy to local smallholder’s groups and organisations and to fill any gaps in services which should be provided. Our mission is to work with existing local rural communities and organisations, and as such, we always aim to work with, and not in competition to, already established local course organisers etc.
 
We really would be grateful for your input – even if the view is that there is nothing you need that is not already available now, it would help us to know what level of demand for support is out there. If you would have a moment to drop us an email, or perhaps to canvass some of your colleagues and forum members on these issues, we would be very grateful.
 
Many thanks for your time.
 
Caroline Smith
VIO Perth
SAC"
Voss Electric Fence

Brucklay

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Re: To all Scottish smallholders on TAS - views sought by SAC.
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2012, 08:24:32 pm »
I'm Aberdeenshire - would love some sort of course that would teach me on the practicalities on the medical side of thing - yes I have a great vet but I would like to know what I can do and get some lessons on what is run of the mill. Antibiotic in the bum I have no problem with but Heptivac in the neck I find daunting (vet out) I should be able to do this myself but I need training - so what I am trying to say is smallholders everyday medial course would be a winner for me
Pygmy Goats, Shetland Sheep, Zip & Indie the Border Collies, BeeBee the cat and a wreak of a building to renovate!!

CarolineR

  • Joined Jan 2012
Re: To all Scottish smallholders on TAS - views sought by SAC.
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2012, 09:59:52 am »
Thanks Brucklay!
Very useful. All opinions welcome - on what you would like to see offered service/product/consultancy-wise, what might be available in England and Wales but is not yet seen up here, comments on what might be improved with services already available in Scotland, and if, for instance you have a local smallholders group, you may wish to comment on courses or speakers or tailored packages that can be bought by a group or society for it's members, to spread costs on consultancy or monitoring packages. Any constructive suggestions or views reflecting the realities of smallholding in Scotland as distinct from conventional large scale farming (this includes small farmers or organic/sustainable farming on a smaller scale too) are very useful to me. I would like to emphasise that this is an opinion gathering exercise at this stage, and not an official SAC investigation or survey - my aim is to find out what people feel is needed, if anything, in the smallholding community.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2012, 10:06:31 am by podanmoo »

doganjo

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Re: To all Scottish smallholders on TAS - views sought by SAC.
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2012, 10:16:52 am »
Maybe we could get an idea from members of what has been helpful from DEFRA?  Not many of us have had the opportunity to farm both in England and Scotland.  What services do DEFRA provide to smallholders in England and Wales?
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Fleecewife

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Re: To all Scottish smallholders on TAS - views sought by SAC.
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2012, 11:42:32 am »
I think that in general (and here I am sure to be shot down in flames  :D) smallholders in Scotland are less well-off than those in England.  This might mean that even when wonderful courses are offered, we might not be able to attend them.
Overall though the idea is an excellent one.   
#Pasture management including haymaking would interest me, both with and without machinery.  Also a smallscale free range poultry course, without the pressure to buy birds and equipment from the person giving the course  ::) would be a relief. 
#Many smallholders sell their produce on a small scale and help with navigating the rules and regs would be useful.
#Smallholding and the law in general could be good - eg can you shoot a dog which worries your sheep or poultry, can you keep people off your land if they are being a nuisance, how to make sure people keep their dogs on leads, neighbour disagreements, insurance and liabilities, welfare - actually animal welfare is a course on its own. 
#From observation of how many TAS members have problems when they first start out, a beginners course to include registering your smallholding, how to decide what to keep, where to source your stock, ear tags  :o, housing etc would probably be useful.
#Lambing seems to be another area where a course designed specifically for smallholders would be very useful - we went on one when we first started but it was definitely for lambing on a commercial scale, with lots of things which didn't apply to us
www.scothebs.co.uk

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doganjo

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Re: To all Scottish smallholders on TAS - views sought by SAC.
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2012, 02:24:46 pm »
#Pasture management including haymaking would interest me, both with and without machinery.  CSSA have one at Oatridge on 19th May

Also a smallscale free range poultry course, without the pressure to buy birds and equipment from the person giving the course  ::) would be a relief.  This is something we hope to do every year from later on this year onwards.

#From observation of how many TAS members have problems when they first start out, a beginners course to include registering your smallholding, how to decide what to keep, where to source your stock, ear tags  :o, housing etc would probably be useful. Again CSSA have this in mind
#Lambing seems to be another area where a course designed specifically for smallholders would be very useful - we went on one when we first started but it was definitely for lambing on a commercial scale, with lots of things which didn't apply to usWe have just had a lambing day at Oatridge - 10 participants covered the cots entirely.  we would run more courses in conjunction with Oatridge and the proposed merger organisation if we had the numbers.
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Dan

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Re: To all Scottish smallholders on TAS - views sought by SAC.
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2012, 02:44:45 pm »
Also a smallscale free range poultry course, without the pressure to buy birds and equipment from the person giving the course  ::) would be a relief.

http://www.accidentalsmallholder.net/smallholding/courses/backyard-poultry-keeping-course/

We don't sell hens or equipment.  :)

bloomer

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Re: To all Scottish smallholders on TAS - views sought by SAC.
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2012, 03:07:50 pm »
i'm not a smallholder yet so i don't know if i get an opinion :-)

but as an extension of the chook care course one of the things i would be looking to learn before i get land etc is the kill/pluck/dress process for poultry and i don't think i've ever seen that offered as a course,  i have seen individuals offer to show other individuals but not as a proper course.


doganjo

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Re: To all Scottish smallholders on TAS - views sought by SAC.
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2012, 06:09:50 pm »
Again something CSSA were thinking of.
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Fleecewife

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Re: To all Scottish smallholders on TAS - views sought by SAC.
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2012, 07:16:27 pm »
I thought the question was what courses we would like the SAC to run  ???
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

Rosemary

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Re: To all Scottish smallholders on TAS - views sought by SAC.
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2012, 07:19:39 pm »
I attended a SAC lambing course last week and it was excellent. There were 12 people, a vet and a tutor from SAC. £75 with lunch. They had two lambing simulators and about a dozen dead lambs, so we could practice lambing different presentations. We also practiced tubing, intra - peritoneal glucose injections, tailing and castrating. I'd read about the glucose injection but now I feel confident enough to do it if circumstances dictated.

Brucklay

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Re: To all Scottish smallholders on TAS - views sought by SAC.
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2012, 09:32:46 pm »
I do realise that in the central belt is where the course are going to be as that is where the people are - would it be possible to think about a mobile unit of some sort - not thought this through but as I believe 90%+ of Scotland's area is agricultural and smallholders are far and wide - could we add this idea to the 'pot'
Pygmy Goats, Shetland Sheep, Zip & Indie the Border Collies, BeeBee the cat and a wreak of a building to renovate!!

doganjo

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Re: To all Scottish smallholders on TAS - views sought by SAC.
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2012, 10:35:35 pm »
I thought the question was what courses we would like the SAC to run  ???
If that is aimed at me, I am only pointing out that Central Scotland Smallholders run courses that are sometimes not well enough supported to go ahead, and if they were then there wouldn't be the need for SAC to run them.
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
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Re: To all Scottish smallholders on TAS - views sought by SAC.
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2012, 10:41:41 pm »
Yes in theory there are quite a few things that I would find useful from a smallholder perspective (as opposed the large scale farming one). Lambing courses are obvious (but I have done mine), but quite a few of the local colleges are doing those. Grassland management using more traditional methods (low input with regard to fertiliser and machinery for example) would definitely be useful in my opinion even for the more experienced smallholder, but  am not sure if this expertise is available within SAC.

Some of the legal and/or animal health issues etc, especially where there are differences between England and Scotland would be interesting to discuss.

And as goatkeeper I have just seen the courses/evening discussions offered by DEFRA all over England - they have got really good reviews from attendees, and of course nothing like this is on offer north of the Border!

With regards to veterinary issues - I have just bought the standard goat/sheep veterinary text books and check those in the first instance, and telephone advice is free from my vets, also they trust me to do basic injections etc myself, which keeps costs at acceptable levels. As smallholders (with internet access) I now find most of the information I need for my livestock from either books or the www, so courses would have to offer something more than that (networking for example to just discuss different approaches re animal husbandry for example). But TAS and other forums really have plugged a gap - I can get advice (or a chat) late at night if necessary!

It is not just a question of actual costs, but time and travel are quite important issues for me - a lot of smallholders are part-time (with other jobs and/or family commitments), so getting away even for a day is often quite difficult to arrange.

I am not a member of any general smallholding group, but have a goat club (in Northern England), whose meetings I attend (on a Sunday), also local beekeeping group and I am considering becoming a member of the NSA. The goatkeeping world has really taken on the www, and there are several excellent fora (or forums - I never know???) available.

The SAC (?) run excellent courses in Beekeeping by Grahame Sharpe, so it can be done (and they are usually free - another way to draw in participants, even experienced ones.)

In conclusion - I think there is limited scope for courses run by SAC, but other may have more ideas and I would like to see more of a discussion. (PS.: In a former career I was involved in organising similar projects - although nothing to do with farming, so I know that this is a difficult subject to gauge, and then to organise. Often people are very interested in theory, but when things are on offer it is sometimes impossible to get an audience/commitment from participants etc etc)

Anke

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Re: To all Scottish smallholders on TAS - views sought by SAC.
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2012, 10:44:43 pm »
I thought the question was what courses we would like the SAC to run  ???
If that is aimed at me, I am only pointing out that Central Scotland Smallholders run courses that are sometimes not well enough supported to go ahead, and if they were then there wouldn't be the need for SAC to run them.

Yes but CSSA is just too far away for a good proportion of Scottish smallholders (including me)!

SAC have quite a few "outposts" all over Scotland - so can run much more localised courses.

 

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