Kids enthralled by insight into countryside life

It’s been described as one of the most important days of education a child will ever have and it continues to enthrall all pupils who attend.

The Border Union Agricultural Society’s schools countryside day brought 10-year-olds from all over the region to Springwood Park in Kelso on Tuesday.

These rare black pigs proved a popular display

These rare black pigs proved a popular display

While the weather for the day failed to hit the highspots of the preceding fortnight, it didn’t seem to bother the pupils.

A plethora of hands-on activities and demonstrations are laid on by many companies and individuals relying on the countryside for a living.

Children learn where their food comes from and how it gets to their plate, they are often inspired to consider career options, and they see where they themselves can fit into the grand spectrum of rural life.

As well as getting hands on with a whole range of farmyard animals – from cute chicks and month-old piglets to far larger horses and cattle – the children’s sheer delight at being able to sit on tractors and quad bikes, sell sheep at auction, spin and weave wool, mill their own flour, watch how sausages are made and marvel at how sheepdogs do their job showed just how important this day is for them.

Despite so many separate groups milling around, and so many stalls for them to see, the fantastic organisation of the event ensures it runs like clockwork.

For Ron Wilson, the retiring secretary of the society and his wife Joan, this year’s countryside day is their last hurrah.

He told us: “I think the kids are the least affected by the weather. They are pretty resilient. While outdoor displays of farm machinery might get a quick walk past, there is plenty of things under cover for them.

“I think the livestock marquee is absolutely fascinating for them this year, with two-day-old chicks and 10-week-old pigs, and there are loads of demonstrations and activities in the main hall.

“It has been a pleasure to bring the countryside that bit closer to so many children over the years.”

Watching the pupils enjoy their day out was East Berwickshire councillor Carol Hamilton, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for children and young people.

She said: “This is an amazing day for children to come and enjoy and see what the Scottish Borders and the rural areas have to offer.

“It’s so exciting to see them react to the cows, the piglets and the big machinery.

“It’s very important for them to understand where their food comes from and the economy of the Borders, and to understand what is out there for them to be a part of.”

Visiting the event in his role as lord high commissioner to the general assembly of the Church of Scotland was the 10th Duke of Buccleuch, Richard Scott, and he said: “In this year of young people, it is particularly important that a future generation has a chance to understand the vital place of agriculture in our Borders economy and countryside, and I warmly congratulate the organisers and all who participate for creating a fascinating and enjoyable day out.”

It has long been a bugbear in the Borders that as soon as youngsters are old enough they will hotfoot it to the city or head to university and not come back.

However, by instilling a love of rural life at such an impressionable age, this trend could be a thing of the past.