I spent a 12 week rota from September to December last year volunteering at a small local farm in Edinburgh called Gorgie Farm. The farm is run by volunteers and is a charity set up to educate city people about farming life and provide a fun and educational day out for local families. There was lots to help out with at the farm through looking after the goats, chickens, pigs, cows and sheep. An afternoon’s work from 1-4pm consisted of mucking out stables, exercising the goats, moving animals to different enclosures, collecting eggs and giving all the animals their afternoon feed.
During my time at Gorgie Farm I also helped with a new born lamb and even found its docked tail when mucking out the ewe enclosure. The tail had been castrated by banding which prevents the build up of faeces which could have caused fly strike.
On one occasion I had to help nurse an injured piglet that had escaped its cage during the night and had unfortunately ended up in a enclosure of larger pigs. The little piglet had been caught up in a fight and was found with multiple cuts. Most of the cuts were not very deep and so I just had to rub antiseptic onto the wounds to stop them getting infected and prevent the bleeding.
In the last few weeks, we had to change our routine with the chickens due to the risk of them catching Avian Influenza from wild birds such as pigeons. We had to disinfect our wellie boots going into and out of the covered enclosures and their food and water had to be sheltered, to reduce the risk of infection. Avian Influenza is a naturally occurring virus among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. The risk of this disease to the UK came in December of last year and so poultry farmers have had to alter the way they keep their birds in order to prevent them from catching the disease.
During my time at Gorgie Farm I learnt lots about the care of each farm animal, which added to my knowledge of farming gained through growing up on my Grandad’s farm. The farm brings a little bit of country life to the city and I was very keen to volunteer at Gorgie Farm after spending so many happy days out there as a child.