We live in a wonderful word that naturally produces an abundance of consumable things, as well as our animals and their produce. As humans we depend on each other to produce and provide these items.

In Scotland we are fortunate enough to have grounds and living conditions good enough for farming to thrive. All over Scotland, we have varying types of farms to ensure all needs are met and that farmers are ensuring they make a profit.

This week we had the opportunity to visit two contrasting dairy farms in Ayrshire. The first of which Strandhead farm, being more technologically focussed and then Mossgiel Farm, which is an organic farm. Personally I didn’t have any expectations of both farms, as I don’t live in the countryside and have never really experienced farming in action.

Technologically advanced farm (Strandhead)

 This whole set up wasn’t the best looking from the outside, in fact for someone who doesn’t understand, even myself when I first walked in, it may look unethical or uncomfortable for the Cows.

At Strandhead:

  • They had a couple hundred cows.
  • The cows stay inside all year round.
  • The cows are fed hay by a robot.
  • The cows a trained to know when they are ready to be milked and walk into a machine that does so.
  • Business method is to produce high yield and sell to producer for low price.

I originally found the set up of the farm concerning, but after having a conversation with the farmer he explained that the cows prefer being inside and are provided with the best conditions possible. He noted that, for him to make money his cows need to be comfortable, happy and healthy, so he will always ensure the best for them.

Collars on Cows can track health.
Robot that feeds cows by collecting food from store room then dispensing hay in front of the Cows.

Organic Farm (Mossgiel)

At Mossgiel:

  • Small herd of cows.
  • Cows live between shed and outside (depending on weather)
  • Cows are only fed grass or mothers milk – no chemical or technological interference.
  • Cows produce very high quality milk.
  • Business method is to produce high quality milk and sell straight to customers at high price.

My first impressions of this farm was that it was small and was surprised at how little cattle they had. After listening to the farmer, I then understood that he requires less staff, he doesn’t need to pay for expensive equipment like a technologically advanced farm would and they can sell their produce at a higher price. I found it interesting how this method of selling produce could possibly begin to reshape our way of obtaining our dairy products and alter the economic situation for farming.

Calves kept altogether in large pen.
Small herd of cows.

This experience has opened my eyes to farming in Scotland and made me realise and appreciate the direction it is going in.  On these visits we were introduced to RHET (Rural highland education trust), this is a non-profit organisation that has the motive to educate people about farming and agriculture.

As a teacher, I think that RHET would be a great tool for educating pupils on our own Scottish agriculture and allow children to appreciate where their produce comes from.  I think that visits similar to this could enhance and deepen a child’s understanding of farming, and I think this has importance in Scotland especially because we have such a large farming community.

Relevant experiences and outcomes for the GTCS:

  • ‘Having evaluated the role of agriculture in the production of food and raw material, I can draw reasoned conclusions about the environmental impacts and sustainability.’ SOC 4-09a
  • ‘Having explored the variety of foods produced in Scotland, I can discuss the importance of different types of agriculture in the production of these foods.’ SOC 1-09a

Educating children about our own agriculture and how we obtain our produce can widen their appreciation of the world around them. This can lead them on the path to becoming effective contributors by educating them on a relevant topic that effects us all as well as making the aware of the journey produce they consume goes on.

Interdependence Group task

To further elaborate on the topic of interdependence, within small groups we were given the task of producing a ‘Piktograph’ focussing on the topic its self. As a group we discovered that the most effective way to complete our task was to divide up the work and assign roles. My role was to gather the information that rest of the group has researched and then produce a ‘Piktograph’ that was interesting, appealing and concise.

Through this task I believe that I developed the skill of being collaborative, as a group we took into consideration each others ideas and input to ensure we worked effectively and fairly. I also think that from making the ‘Piktograph’ I had the chance to be creative and imaginative, these are skills I wouldn’t have thought I would use when covering a topic like interdependence. This just goes to show that all tasks we can incorporate the use of many differing skills.

I enjoyed using a different mode of expressing our knowledge and research. I think that this application would be a useful tool in a classroom to provide a different way of presenting work and giving the opportunity for creativeness and imagination and making lessons multi-modal which could enhance engagement and make a lesson more interesting.

This is the link to the Piktograph we created as a group :




Climate Change (Global warming)

Global warming; a phrase that could divide a room.

Global warming is something that a lot of people know about but some not to a deep understanding. I would say I was one of these people until exploring this topic. Global warming can open up a multitude of controversial conversations and debates as it encompasses many factors. A large factor that has contributed to earth’s temperature warming is the damage we are doing as humans, this allegation is one that some people do not believe.

Global warming and Climate change facts:

  • Climate is the term given to the average weather at a given point and time of year.
  • We expect weather to change each day, but expect the climate to remain relatively constant.
  • If our climate does not hold consistency, we then call this climate change.
  • Earth’s temperature has risen by 1 degree in the past century.
  • Burning fossil fuels, deforestation and farming are huge contributors to climate change.
  • Evidence of climate change can be collected by: weather recordings, ice cores, rocks and fossils and Analysis of pollen and trees.

Effects of Climate change


Farming communities, more so in developing countries, are being faced with extreme weather conditions that make farming more difficult. (e.g increased rainfall, drought or higher temperatures.)

Desertification is causing agricultural land close to deserts to become unsuitable for farming.

Flooding is causing crops to be wiped out that are growing in low-lying areas.

Sea level changes

Due to the ice cap melting, we can now see the sea levels increasing. Coastal land is at risk of flooding, more so land on deltas. Also we can see that sea defences are under increased stress. Global sea level is expected to rise between 3.5 and 34.6 inches in the next 100 years.

From this image, it is clear that the ice cap has decreased in size dramatically in the space of 32 years. After seeing this photo and similar ones, I felt shocked and almost guilty that we have allowed it to get this far, knowing that our actions as  humans are having this impact. This decrease in the ice cap is pushing animals like polar bears that live there to take other means to survive or live in different conditions, or even for some not to survive.

Sceptics / Counter argument

  • Most climate change sceptics dispute the research finding of the intergovernmental panel on climate change.
  • Many sceptics believe that as the earth has went through many climate changes before (eg ice age), then this is the climate changing again and it’s not our fault.
  • They say that the CO2 that we believe is causing global warming would be reabsorbed by trees and the sea.
  • However, scientists who have researched climate change have gathered lots of evidence to support global warming and it is only a small amount of scientists who disagree with these findings.

What can we do?

In Scotland, we are fortunate to have a supportive government with a vision of a cleaner Scotland.  Some actions they have taken include: 5p bag charge to decrease plastic use, using renewable energy eg wind and promoting low carbon living. This motivation from the Scottish government has rippled into Scottish schools, meaning healthier and cleaner lifestyles are promoted to children. In doing so, we can create a better living and learning environment for children, as well as providing them with perspective and awareness of how they live by educating them on the impact of climate change.

After taking the WWF ‘ footprint calculator’ questionnaire, I felt quite guilty for the carbon footprint I am creating. I think that this tool would be useful in a class to give perspective to the children of their own impact on the earth.

If we all make minor changes in our life for the sake of our planet, we could together have a major impact.