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Smallholder Training Courses

At South Yeo Farm East we have developed a number of affordable practical one- day training courses for smallholders covering a range of smallholding related topics from keeping your first birds or livestock to managing the land. We know that starting out on your smallholding dream can be daunting so why not come along for a fun and relaxed day to gain a little confidence before launching into keeping your first livestock or digging a pond? Courses have been run at the farm now since 2006 and we always welcome suggestions for new topics; if we cannot run one ourselves, we will find someone who can! If the dates don’t suit or you have a group, do contact us and we can put on additional dates. All courses involve a mix of both practical hands on and classroom sessions in our newly restored cob barn training facility.  We limit numbers to 10 places to allow lots of space and opportunity to ask questions throughout.

New for 2014!
Private tutored lambing days
Would you like to spend a day with us in the lambing shed and get hands on with lambing? Come and learn all the lambing basics and help with a days work during lambing our Balwen flock in April. 10:00am-5:00pm including lunch and refreshments. Dates available by arrangement from April 5th-20th. £150/person or £250/couple. Contact us to book your private date, just you & us & the sheep. Tel: 01837 810274.

The new training room

We deliver most of the courses ourselves: Gillian draws on her experience having grown up on a smallholding, managing the farm livestock and she also worked for 7 years as a Farm and Rivers advisor for the Westcountry Rivers Trust where she delivered environmental training courses. Ian has a lifetime’s experience from growing up on the farm with his family and seemingly had his hands permanently inside various bits of machinery! In addition, he is a professional audio engineer and we therefore also offer a couple of courses on Audio Systems for those who need help managing sound systems in their halls, churches and venues.
Over the last couple of years an increasing number of people have begun to offer smallholder training but there is currently no certification system for delivering such courses, so how can you be sure the quality of the material we deliver is up to the high standard you would expect?

  1. We regularly deliver a number of our courses for the Devon Association of Smallholders (DASH). Each of these course attendees submits feedback to the DASH Training Co-ordinator who monitors the tutor’s delivery, content and general effectiveness - we wouldn’t be asked again if we weren’t getting it right!
  2. Similarly, we deliver courses for Duchy College of Agriculture; the attendees also submit formal feedback to the College.
  3. We have our courses critically vetted by other experienced sheep / pig / poultry keeping friends to ensure content is up to standard - they are not shy in telling us what they think…
  4. Finally, we also ask our course participants to complete a feedback form so we can monitor how the courses are received and improve the programme and content with every course that is run. We have been doing so for 5 years now and are continually updating.
Tractor and machinery maintenance training day in action

All the courses are run at our farm and usually involve practical sessions outside, so please bring clean outdoor clothes, wellies, and a notebook should you want to take notes, although appropriate handouts and a multitude of leaflets to take away are supplied. Teas, coffees and biscuits are provided but to keep costs down we ask that you bring your own pack lunch. For individual course details click here and to book click here

2013 South Yeo Farm East
Smallholder Training course schedule
(courses run from 10:00am - 4:30pm)   

2013 courses (cost: £49.95/person inc VAT)
October 19 & 20
Sat & Sun
Learn to SPIN in a weekend, with guest tutor Mary Lambert. £95 for 2 days. Includes materials. Accommodation not provided. Maximum of 6 to allow plenty of individual attention.
October 23, Weds An Introduction to SHEEP Keeping
October 26, Sat TRACTOR Maintenance
November 9, Sat Poultry DISPATCH & Dressing (bird provided [£10] or bring own)
November 23, Sat An Introduction to Keeping PIGS
December 8, Sun Creating Living WILLOW Garden Structures
2014 courses (still only £49.95/person inc VAT)
January 11, Sat Creating Living WILLOW Garden Structures
January 25, Sat LAMBING
January 26, Sun LAMBING
February 8, Sat An Introduction to SHEEP Keeping
February 22, Sat An Introduction to Keeping PIGS
March 8, Sat POULTRY Keeping for Beginners
March 22, Sat INCUBATION, Hatching & Rearing Poultry
April 12, Sat TRACTOR maintenance
April 27, Sun An Introduction to SHEEP Keeping
May 11, Sun An Introduction to Keeping PIGS
May 13, Tues (eve) PIG Keeping evening (7:00pm - 9:30pm, £25)
May 20, Tues POULTRY Keeping for Beginners
May 21, Weds (eve) POULTRY Keeping evening (7:00pm - 9:30pm, £25)
June 7, Sat TRACTOR & MACHINERY Maintenance
June 21, Sat LAND MANAGEMENT
July 8, Tues An Introduction to SHEEP Keeping
July 9, Weds (eve) SHEEP Keeping evening (7:00pm - 9:30pm, £25)
July 23, Weds An Introduction to Keeping PIGS
September, Sat 13th to Fri 19th (inclusive) £395 for the week (£770 for a double booking) Smallholding School: A week-long selection of courses covering keeping Poultry, Pigs, Sheep, Goats, Cattle, Bees, Land Management, and Tools/Machinery for the Smallholder, with 2 days off in-between to catch your breath & explore Devon. Includes home-cooked farmhouse lunches using our own produce & afternoon tea & cake, and the opportunity to help out with animal feeding & tasks. Longer hours than our regular 1 day courses. Accommodation not included but sign-posted to nearby venues. Make a holiday of learning to be a smallholder…
October 4, Sat Wildlife POND Creation & Management
October 8, Weds TRACTOR maintenance
October 18, Sat An Introduction to SHEEP Keeping
November 9, Sun An Introduction to Keeping PIGS
November 22, Sat Poultry DISPATCH & Dressing (incl. bird £59.95, or bring own £49.95)
December 6, Sat Creating Living WILLOW Garden Structures

* DASH is the Devon Association of Smallholders. Bookings for courses marked 'for DASH' are for DASH members and are taken through their training co-ordinator. See the DASH website for further details.

Individual course summaries:

Poultry Keeping for beginners - Want to keep poultry but don’t know where to begin? This is an introductory course for the beginner, covering choosing & handling birds, housing, feeding, daily care, rearing & common poultry health problems - see chicks hatching & our collection of 30 rare & traditional poultry breeds - including chicken, ducks, geese and jungle fowl - opportunity to handle birds of different sizes. Touches on hatching but this is covered in more detail in our Incubation, Hatching and Rearing course

Poultry Keeping evening - From 7:00 - 9:00pm, this is a whistle stop version of the poultry keeping day course for those who want a quick introduction. Cost £25 per person

Incubation, Hatching & Rearing Poultry - If you’ve kept poultry for a while & now want to start hatching & rearing your own young birds, this course is for you. We cover selecting eggs for hatching, storage, setting eggs, incubation by incubator or broody, the hatching process, brooding, feeding & rearing young birds. A natural follow-on to ‘Poultry for Beginners’

Poultry dispatch & dressing - A practical course covering humane culling, hand plucking, eviscerating and dressing of chicken & ducks - hands on, bring your own bird or bird to purchase provided - just in time to process your prize Christmas goose or turkey…

An Introduction to Keeping Pigs - Beginners guide to choosing, handling, feeding, housing, managing and transporting pigs. Will also cover current regulations, sending your pigs off for meat and breeding - pigs of various ages on view & we should have a recently farrowed pig with piglets

An Introduction to Sheep Keeping - A beginner’s guide to sheep keeping including, current regulations, choosing a breed, feeding, annual management, handling, health problems -  Also briefly touches on lambing but this is covered in greater depth in our January lambing course

Lambing - A day spent looking at lambing from preparing the ewe & ram for tupping, care of the in-lamb ewe, preparing the lambing shed, essential lambing kit, routine lambing, potential problems with lambing/ewe/lambs, to follow-on lamb care - if all goes well we should be 2 weeks into lambing our Shropshires with ewes & lambs to view

Land Management - You have just taken on your smallholding & want to know how to look after your land in tune with nature… we cover grassland management from topping, harrowing, rolling, rotations, manure management, soils, pest & weed control, hedges, ditches & watercourses, & field drainage. Both theory & practical sessions looking at different types of tools & machinery in action.

Creating Living willow structures - Learn how to plant & grow willow and how to make a variety of living willow features including arbours, ‘fedges’, arches, chairs etc. Practical hand-on sessions & willow to buy to take away

Wildlife pond creation & management - Covering the design and creation of new ponds for wildlife & management of existing or neglected ponds - several examples can be seen

Tractor & machinery maintenance - A course for beginners, covering basic maintenance of simple tractors and the most common farm machinery - bring your overalls and prepare to get stuck in! Just in time for hay making…

Tractor maintenance - similar to the above course but focussing solely on maintaining your tractor in a little more detail

Learn to Spin - For beginners and re-learners. Learn to spin, ply and finish different types of fleece using pre-prepared fibre, followed by a look at different methods of fleece preparation. Bring your own wheel for assessment or use a wheel provided. A 2 day course instructed by Mary Lambert, Spinning Guild member and spinning judge, who has been spinning for more years than she cares to remember. This course is £95 for 2 days.

How to book:

To reserve a place on any of the courses above, please send details of your name, address, telephone number, email (for confirmation, agenda, directions etc.), and a cheque for £49.95 per person including VAT (accompanied children under age 16, £30; evening courses £25; Smallholding School £395; *£4.95 off Sheep/Pig courses for our sheep & pig customers) made to ‘South Yeo Farm East’ to South Yeo Farm East, Northlew, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 3PS and be sure to indicate which course it is for. We will acknowledge your booking upon receipt and send details of any special requirements or equipment you may need to bring, and look forward to seeing you on the day. Your details will be held in confidence and will NOT be passed on to any third parties.

If you wish to purchase a course place as a gift, please let us know and we can send details enclosed within a card for you to give to your loved one.

Terms: We will acknowledge your booking upon receipt of your details and payment, and will send details of any special requirements or equipment you may need to bring, a map to find us here at South Yeo Farm East, and look forward to seeing you on the day. Your details will be held in confidence and will NOT be passed on to any third parties. Bookings are taken on a first come first served basis and we may run a waiting list for some courses or put on additional dates if demand is high. Payment is required in advance to reserve a place. Should you need to cancel please let us know as soon as possible and we can re-book you on an alternative date or refund you. We regret we are not able to refund cancellations received within 24 hours of the course date. We have not yet had to cancel a course but reserve the right to do so (with full refund or re-booking) should outside circumstances force such a decision. Although the training room is wheelchair accessible, unfortunately the farm is not easily navigable. Regrettably we are not able to allow dogs to come along on training days as we have livestock running loose; we have 3 keen border collies who know the rules!

Accommodation for Courses
We are unable to offer accommodation but if you are interested in attending a course and are coming some distance, some local B&Bs are listed on our links page for your convenience.

Testimonials
Don’t just take our word for it, here is what some past participants have said about our courses:

Poultry keeping:
“ Great day. Really good value for money. Amazed at how much we managed to get through in one day. “

“ A most interesting day and I feel better informed and more able to look after my ducks, geese and chickens. Even small things like cleaning out houses - things people don’t think to tell you about were covered “

“ It was a fantastic day - well run and really helpful tutor “

“ Very enjoyable & highly informative. Fantastic value. To be recommended to friends “

Introduction to Keeping Sheep:
“ Perfect course for us! Felt that we could ask any questions without feeling silly. Great to get hands on - even if they were a bit wet! “

Tractor & machinery maintenance:
“ As a tractor ‘novice’ I felt it was delivered at the right level. It has increased my confidence “

Living willow structures:
“ A bit of a wet day but we all enjoyed ourselves and had a good mix of theory and hands-on“

Willow course attendees standing proudly by their newly created arbour

So what’s keeping you? Why not come along to a course and learn in a friendly relaxed environment how to take the first steps in keeping livestock and more!

Coming soon: Training room hire
Over the last few years we have been converting a traditional cob barn in our farmyard as a focal point to use for the training days. Now completed we hope to offer it for hire to groups of up to 12 in number that wish to get away for small conferences, away days, training and meetings where they will not easily be disturbed by the outside world. Owing to the thick walled cob construction mobile reception inside is limited! All the usual conference facilities will be available such as an overhead data projector, flip charts and pads, and refreshments. If interested in using this space, please contact us and we can tell you more.

Courses we don’t offer but that are relevant to what we do and may be of interest to you:

Course title

Contact person/organisation

Introduction to Smallholding

Our neighbours across the road at South Yeo Farm West http://www.southyeofarmwest.co.uk/smallholding.html

Cattle for the Smallholder

The Magdalen Project http://www.themagdalenproject.org.uk/argriculture.php

Bee Keeping

Dan Basterfield, British Bee Keppers Association, Honiton http://shop.the-apiary.co.uk/courses-16-c.asp