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First steps on the sheep for Jess

Right from the first month we had Jess, and as soon as she was inoculated she was allowed to see sheep, just so she could develop an interest in them.  First she was shown them, then to follow them, eventually she was allowed to run with them a little. Some dogs are not that interested, some transfixed by the sheep and some are just mad keen to get hold of them! Jess was the latter and the most common type and this means I have to be careful at this stage to ensure the sheep are safe. One good thing about an introduction at this age is the pup has not developed enough of her adult teeth to cause a problem so if she does have a nip she just ends up with a mouthful of wool. Sheepdogs have wolf ancestry and herding is a part of the hunt and the part we need to develop but the killing part is also in there and needs to be totally suppressed so careful thinking and planning comes into the training when you have a pup like this.

The best way is to protect the sheep is in a circular pen so that Jess can run round them but not get close. Rachael our trusty shepherdess built us a nice one where we could encourage a few sheep in with a little food and then let Jess have a little run around them. One of the main objectives here is to get the pup to develop a desire to balance the sheep to me, what I mean by that is if the sheep are in the middle of the pen then I would be at 6 o’clock and Jess at 12 o’clock and if I move one way she should move to correct the situation. To do this we encourage her to run around the pen in both directions attempting to stop her when she is in the right place, here the lie down or stand commands will be required and the fruits of my labour at home will hopefully prove worthwhile. In one of the videos you can see this happening as she takes a command nicely and drops down, we are therefore getting somewhere but it’ll be a while before we try anything without the pen as she still has a desire to get at them given the chance.

Training a dog is little steps some forward but plenty back and as I take every lesson I look for little signs that we are progressing in the right direction, one such sign is the tail, in the first session it was held high over her back indicating a mischievous desire but in only the second session she was holding it low which indicates a more serious working attitude and that’s a real plus. That’s about all for now apart from saying that whilst all this running around is going on I will also be starting to introduce the directional commands that most will be familiar with;

“Come Bye and Away to Me”

Steve Stone
Volunteer Shepherd at COAM

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Rothschild grant enables COAM to subsidise school visits

Head of Learning, Jo Lonsdale, tells us how a grant from the Rothchild Foundation enabled us to welcome school children who would not have otherwise been able to visit and take part in our award winning learning programme due to financial barriers….

As a direct result of the Rothschild Foundation’s 2018-2019 Local and Community Grant contribution, we have been able to provide 462 primary aged children with access to our immersive Sandford Award winning Learning programme.

School children building shelters

Through this Rothschild grant, we were able to offer outdoor learning opportunities to pupils from schools within ten miles of the Waddesdon Estate. These children would otherwise have not been able to benefit from such learning and enrichment outcomes due to the geographical distance of their schools; The Museum is not accessible by public transport and so schools face costs of coach travel and charges for admission and learning provision as financial barriers to entry.

COAM subsidised visits for 462 school children in Years 1-6 across eight different Buckinghamshire schools.  Through the funding, 27 authentic, experiential educational workshops were delivered during March – October 2019.

During these sessions the children engaged in cross-curricular hands-on activities allowing them to access the formal curriculum across subjects such as history, science, english, maths, and design & technology.

Not only did these workshops bring the curriculum to life, but the beautiful environment of the Museum site itself promotes positive mental health and well-being. There are many benefits to being immersed in our environment: children can travel back in time and be inspired by our rescued historic buildings and explore the outdoor setting of woodlands, meadows, ponds and beautiful gardens. Being able to enjoy the historic working farm with its animals and playground spread across wide open spaces connected to nature and greenery helps develop happy, healthy children to become confident, independent and resilient learners.

COAM delivers excellent outdoor learning provision in bushcraft, orienteering and archery (having a permanent Outdoor Learning specialist and qualified Forest School practitioner) designed to facilitate team building, problem solving and survival/life skills, along with encouraging social interaction and communication.

Direct outcomes of the Rothschild grant have been:

  1. Subsidised engagement and inclusivity for pupils from mainstream and special schools.
  2. Stronger relationships with those schools to encourage repeat visits and provide access to new children.
  3. Improved SEND provision and enhanced learning activities to promote local children’s cultural capital.
  4. Support for teachers to meet the demands of the new Ofsted framework from May 2019 to provide teaching and learning opportunities within a broad and balanced curriculum.

Teacher and pupil feedback

Teacher evaluation stated their visit benefited their pupils by:

‘The trip was a very positive experience for the children. There were many comments such as “I wish all of our days could be like this”.’

‘Providing practical activities made the learning more relevant, supported our topic and reinforced knowledge and understanding.’

‘Visiting a historical environment made them think about life in a different era without modern comforts and supported the development of empathetic skills. One child asked ‘why didn’t they have lights?’ – before visiting this child had no concept that life in the past was different to now.’

‘Provided an opportunity to be taught by other adults other than school staff and gave pupils the chance to show them the same level of respect as they do school staff.’

‘Provided the opportunity for the children to receive lots of praise and help build their self-esteem.’

‘Enabled the children to look forward to other school trips without anxiety, some children could potentially find trips offsite stressful and difficult.’

Jo Lonsdale
Head of Learning at COAM

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Volunteering during a pandemic

Katie Pilcher manages the volunteers at COAM and she has written a blog post to tell us about her experiences supporting our cohort of volunteers during the Coronavirus pandemic this year….

It has been a very different year for us all at COAM, especially our volunteers. They give us so much of their time and many have done so for years. Rewind back to March, when we had to tell our amazing team that they were not able to volunteer in the way they had grown to love, it was really difficult. For so many, COAM is its own community and a lot of our volunteers really do move their lives around their volunteer duties at the Museum.

Volunteer feeding sheep
Lockdown 1.0 came into play right at the beginning of our lambing season – a time of year when volunteers are hugely involved in supporting our Farm Team. Lambing 2020 definitely meant a lot to us, not only because it was our first season in 20 years where we hadn’t lost any lambs but because it became a lifeline. Some of our volunteers live in small apartments and some live on their own so being able to help keep all our new arrivals alive was important at a time where we were all relishing our one dose of exercise a day. Our Communications Team kept our entire team of volunteers updated with all our lambing news and was often asked to send more videos or photographs for them to forward onto family to lift spirits.

When we all received the good news that we could open to the public, we all breathed a sigh of relief. It had been very quiet at the Museum in the months leading up to June so being able to let our volunteers come back on site and provide them with a safe escape was blissful.

Volunteer drilling at Chiltern Open Air Museum

The question I often get asked is, ‘why do people choose to volunteer with your organisation?’. In previous years, I’d often say ‘‘they want to fill their spare time’, ‘they want to support a good cause’ or ‘they want to meet new people’. 2020 has altered me being able to answer that so easily. I’ve asked most people I’ve supported this year why they continue to volunteer with us and no two reasons are the same. Lots of people have been put on furlough, have more time, lots have debated volunteering with us and decided now was the time to get involved. Some people needed a break from reality or wanted to do something valuable with their time and others needed structure or routine to their week. COAM certainly fills a hole that people needed filled.

We have been incredibly lucky to gain an insane amount of new volunteer support this year but not only that, volunteers who haven’t been involved for a number of years have started back up again. Is this because of the pandemic? Probably, but I know many of our team are keen to continue volunteering with us even when we get back to some sense of normality.

Volunteer taking down Christmas decorations at Chiltern Open Air Museum

I wanted to let the spotlight shine on our volunteers and let them tell you what it has been like to volunteer during the coronavirus pandemic and how they feel about volunteering at COAM.


“When I first visited COAM I noticed the volunteer sign on the wall and knew immediately that I wanted to come back and be a part of what they were doing. To me, there is almost nothing better than walking around the empty museum in the morning doing animal chores. Even when it’s raining or cold, COAM feels like home and the people there feel like family.”


“I often took my children here years ago; they loved it, and now my son will be getting married in Skippings Barn. So I was delighted to hear that COAM was looking for volunteers. Although I’ve only recently started, I already feel at home. Everyone has been helpful, friendly and above all incredibly knowledgeable. I enjoy helping with the Astleham garden; sometimes I do the ticket office, stewarding and on one occasion assisted with archery (unfortunately just to disinfect the arrows!) It’s a very rewarding place. There’s always so much going on, yet it’s peaceful as well, and there’s a great sense of community. Most of all, it’s good to feel that you are part of something special.”


“I enjoy volunteering at COAM because I get to be outdoors and with the animals. In addition, it is inspiring to be a part of their mission. I think what COAM is doing is important and helps modern visitors to understand how people lived and worked in the past. It is a physical representation of the past which is often hard for people to imagine.”

Volunteer folk singers at Chiltern Open Air Museum


“My wife was looking at COAM via Facebook and saw an advert for costumed volunteers. “You’d love that” she said, knowing that I was into Amateur Dramatics and liked dressing up! So I emailed Katie and she invited me over. She described the project which had some funding and was to be properly launched next year. The costumed volunteer will take a building and be dressed in clothes appropriate to the building and the time period answering questions and giving an additional insight into our assets.

So the first week, to see whether I liked it, I took the 1940s pre-fab and was in my own clothes. Having studied the background notes to the building I was all ready to impart my vast knowledge to the public! Well, rather than doing this, I learnt so much from those who visited the building. One man had spent his childhood up to aged 11 in one, another told me all about heating with back boilers and another man was an expert on asbestos. The different grades, how dangerous, how to dispose of it, etc. I felt slightly overawed that I had learnt much more than I had imparted.

Week 2 came and Katie found me a 1940s great coat and some trousers which was brilliant as frankly it was quite cold. This week armed with my knowledge and what I had learnt from visitors in week 1, I was away. Visitors love the house and there is so much inside which reminds them of their childhood or of their grandparents’ household items. The children are a joy and ask the most unexpected questions.

Week 3 the Henton Mission Room and back to learning. I am obviously a newbie but loving it and talking to the wonderful visitors that we attract here. Here’s hoping that more costumes will be created for next year and if you see an elderly vicar walking round the site next Spring, it might be me!”


“I don’t know exactly what I expected when I first volunteered to help at COAM: something to give a little bit of structure to my week, maybe; a chance to socialise more after weeks of lockdown; a way to support a valued local institution that was feeling the effects of coronavirus. Well, I got all of these but so much more.
Initially, I offered to steward and spent time in the Toll House and in Leagrave Cottages. The first thing I noticed was the warm welcome from existing staff members and volunteers. In those first few sessions, so many people came to introduce themselves, have a chat and offer help. Quickly, I felt part of the family.

Then there was the pleasure of chatting to the visitors, sharing my ever-increasing knowledge and hearing their recollections and stories. I had wonderful questions from children, such as ‘Really, no wi-fi?’ and ‘How did people manage with no movies? Did they make their own?’ One child, on seeing the besom broom in the Toll House, asked if I was a witch! I met so many interesting people: two lovely ladies in Finnish national costume, a Scottish organic farmer who had come ‘down south’ for some work as a film extra and two lovely (but scary!) architectural conservationists who knew much more about the building I was standing in than I did!

But the over-riding benefit is the store of memories that will keep me going over the winter. I will remember families picnicking and playing on the Village Green, relaxed and safe from the virus; standing by the Snack Barn on Wild about Wool Sunday, enjoying the autumn sun on the changing leaves and watching smoke curling out of the chimneys of Leagrave and the Forge; the fragrance of the roses outside Astleham Manor cottage; the goats standing in a line on the fallen tree-trunk. Most of all, though, I will remember walking up the lane from the Toll House at the end of the day, picking blackberries from the hedgerows. It could have been a country lane a hundred years ago. How peaceful!

Then, something new. I started helping on the Accompanied Walks programme where we offered a walk round the museum and tea and cake to people who were feeling particularly isolated as a result of the virus. I was anxious at first that I may not know enough about all the buildings but I found visitors didn’t want a lot of information. They enjoyed just a gentle stroll and a chat about anything that caught their eye. Peeking through the windows of the prefab was always good fun and we enjoyed discussing things like the wonderful onions grown in the allotment. Each walk seemed to follow the same route but it was never boring. With new people each time, every conversation was different and every experience delightful. I was sorry when the programme came to an end. I’m sure the visitors all enjoyed it and I certainly did. Let’s hope it happens again.

What a great few months. Here’s to next year!”

Over the last few weeks of 2020, I’ve been told time and time again by our volunteers ‘I feel like I am part of a huge family’… feedback doesn’t get much better than that.

It has not been easy – for anyone. The one thing that has certainly helped me and my colleagues with every challenge put in front of us, is seeing how important our Museum is to our volunteers and how it has helped them all get through one of the hardest years they’ve known. No-one can be sure how coronavirus will affect us in 2021 but we’ll certainly have an army of ever-growing volunteer support behind us.

If you’re interested in getting involved in volunteering in 2021, then please drop me an email at volunteering@coam.org.uk

Katie Pilcher
Volunteering and Communications Officer

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Christmas Advent in our Prefab 1952

Volunteer, Richard Martin, tells us what Christmas was like when they lived in a prefab in 1952.

The arrival of Christmas was a much quieter affair when we lived in the prefab than nowadays. The nearest church was a 3 mile walk away, not that my Mum and Dad had time to be religious, there was no television and our radio was what was called a ‘wireless’ which I never understood as it was full of wires and valves and things. This was used for football results on a Saturday and the comedy hour around our Sunday midday meal which we called dinner!

So, the lead up to Christmas was truly seasonal, foggy November was replaced by a cold and icy December which signaled that the anniversary of the birth of Jesus was just around the corner. Once I started school the rehearsal for the nativity play was the first indication that celebrations were at hand. My participation in this was small until one year I was chosen to play the part of the Christmas tree that had been overlooked in the forest because it was too small. Then a poor family with some happy children came along and dug me up then took me home to make me the centre of their Christmas. Not sure I or the tree ever recovered from that!

1940s prefab living room dressed for Christmas

The 1940s prefab at Chiltern Open Air Museum

The first moment that my sister and I realised something Christmassy was at hand was about mid-December when arriving home from school there would be a large canvas wrapped parcel sitting on the fold down kitchen table. It was sealed with wax and coarse string and covered in the most amazing array of coloured stamps with pictures of kangaroos, koala bears and a large bird, the kookaburra. Our parcel from Australia had arrived!

My aunt and uncle had moved to Sydney in 1947 on a £10 passage and set up a business selling ‘lollies’ as they were called but sweets to us. It went very well and they generously shared their success with us at Christmas. This was a mixed blessing for my parents as they could have been part of the story but were not prepared to risk leaving everything and going to the other side of the world

Many types of food was still on ration in the UK in the early 1950s and this meant we saw very few special treats, so tins of pineapple, apricots, ham and those lollies created huge excitement at number 153. We were told to keep our good fortune to ourselves as many others were not so lucky. The parcel was put out of sight ready for a ‘surprise’ on Christmas day.

Christmas preparations would now begin in earnest, we made paper chains from strips of coloured paper which were gummed at each end, these tasted awful when licked. They broke easily and would come unstuck in the damp cold front room and we would get up to find them spread on the floor in the morning.

There really was not much money about and Dad would acquire a Christmas tree from somewhere and bring it home on the bus. We would hang out the kitchen window waiting for him to turn the corner. He would appear with the tree over one shoulder looking like one of the seven dwarves heading home from work.

The decorations were kept from year to year in a box on top of the wardrobe, the fairy for the tree was a rather stiff hard plastic beauty who had lost most of her hair so was adorned with a make shift tinsel tiara. She stood at attention at the top of the tree with a rather limp wand and ruled all she surveyed. The supporting cast of decorations was a ragbag collection of small animal characters and glass balls which smashed into a thousand pieces when they fell onto the lino floor.

There were no tree lights but we had an ancient collection of clip on candle holders with a metal frill to catch the wax. Few of the candles matched and these were never lit for the risk of fire. However, with strands of tinsel and ribbons of crepe paper we thought our tree magnificent especially with the lights out and the flickering flames from the fire in the sitting room.

This was the only form of heat in the whole prefab and heated the water for the once a week bath we shared. It was very cold and on Christmas morning Dad was up first and lit the fire to warm the house through.

In fact, my sister and I had been awake for ages in expectation of the day ahead, we each had a large woolen sock of Dad’s which was filled with nuts, a few sweets and a tangerine to open first. Next came a pillowcase of presents mainly from Father Christmas and aunts and uncles which we all opened together in front of the fire wrapped in our thick dressing gowns.

Next came the opening of the parcel from Australia but that curiously never seemed quite as plump and well wrapped as it when it first arrived! The contents welcome none the less and helped opened my eyes to another world of hope and plenty.

The stamps were carefully steamed and dried ready to go into my stamp album after Christmas, this was the joy there was always something around the corner.

My recollection is of a bright happy day always with the sun shining, although I am sure that was unlikely, we had a chicken for Christmas Dinner, a once a year event, probably traded for a couple of the rabbits that we kept. Winter vegetables from the garden and steamed pudding completed the fare

After dinner we had small presents from the Christmas Tree, a pencil, a Matchbox car and a diary, the reminder that school was just a few days away.

The evening was spent playing cards, sevens and Newmarket, port and lemon and beer for the grown ups and Corona lemonade for us.

Oh Happy days!!

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Jess the sheep dog at 15 weeks

Jess at 15 weeks

Well Jess is continuing to grow at a pace and weighing in at 9.6 kgs, she is pretty much toilet trained and is becoming less of a full time job and more an integral part of the family. Socialising now is the priority as she is a bit limited with the current COVID situation, so, plenty of walks and chances to meet other people and dogs. She seems to love people as long as they are not to “in her face” she then tends to keep her distance for a while until she builds up courage. Dogs however are a bit more scary and she’d run a mile if she wasn’t on a lead so the more chances to meet them the better. Yesterday, she met a tiny puppy about the same age as her and was scared to death at first but a bit of perseverance and she soon overcame any fear and was rough and tumbling and realising what good fun it was.

Sheep dog puppy walking sheep up path

Now over to her main purpose in life, being a sheepdog! Over the last couple of weeks she has been to see the sheep at feeding time and is developing a mild interest so it’s important to keep nurturing it steadily. Today we needed to move the sheep to pastures new as we have recently wormed them and they need fresh grass so it seemed an opportune time to let Jess get a little more involved. All dogs are different and as a trainer I need to recognise what sort of temperament she has and how will she work sheep, some won’t develop a desire to work for many months, others dive straight in and attack ( this is the wolf ancestry hunt and kill instinct that ultimately drives them all to work).

sheep dog puppy observing sheep with head it's head in a bucket

Jess seems to be in the middle somewhere with quite an interest but a bit wary so it’s vital she doesn’t get put off by an angry sheep as this could affect her for life. Many pups don’t do anything at first particularly if the sheep aren’t worried by the dogs’ presence and don’t move away, the pup just ends up confused and unsure what to do. What we need is moving sheep to bring out the chasing instinct and this change of pasture seemed ideal. Starting with the lambs who have been grazing off the Hidden Meadow (our piece of chalk downland) I let them go past her and proceeded to follow them with Jess on an extendable lead, the video was taken by Rachael our shepherdess and you can clearly see Jess getting very excited, nipping at their heels and even showing a desire to want to go round them and head them off. These moments are without doubt my favourite part of training a working collie as you get that flood of relief that your new acquisition has something in her that we can work with.

For now that is about as far as I will go with her, just regular visits to see the sheep to build up a real burning desire to herd them, we’ll wait until she is big enough and fast enough to out run them before we start the serious business of training to commands etc. She will however be getting home schooling on the basics, walking steady, stopping, lying down etc. and of course coming back to me which seems to be our biggest challenge at the moment!

Steve Stone
Volunteer Shepherd at COAM

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Accompanied Walks

A Dose of Vitamin Green – Accompanied Walks at COAM

This autumn lots of over 65s have joined us for an Accompanied Walk. When asked, “On a scale of 1 to 5, did you feel that your mood was happier after the walk than before the walk?”, every single one replied 5 out of 5!

If you have not yet heard about our Accompanied `Walks programme, here is a quick explanation….

The team at Chiltern Open Air Museum recognised that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, difficulties for those members of the elderly community who were already experiencing social isolation, have been exacerbated. To promote and support the health and wellbeing of this sector of our community, we invited individuals and some couples (and some dogs!) to the museum for an accompanied walk with a friendly and knowledgeable COAM volunteer. Walkers were encouraged to invite along a carer or friend for both support and to increase access to the programme. Throughout the experience, Government guidelines on social distancing were followed.

Accompanied Walks

This project, funded by the Sherling Trust, gave visitors the opportunity to enjoy an hour’s walk around the museum and learn about our 37 heritage buildings, gardens, park and woodland. Before heading back home, walkers were offered a cuppa and snack.

In advance of their visit, I asked each walker a few nosey questions so that I could gauge their level of mobility and gain an idea of some of their interests. Armed with this information, I was then able to match the walker to one of the fabulous accompanying COAM volunteers. So, along with the benefits of being out and about in the great outdoors in a beautiful, safe and supported environment, walkers also benefited from lively and engaging conversation.

We couldn’t agree more with the findings of Walking for Heath’s Walking Works report which includes the following findings:

“Walking is the most likely way all adults can achieve the recommended levels of physical activity.”
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

“Being physically active is particularly beneficial for the mental health of older people, improving cognitive functioning, memory, attention and processing speed, reducing symptoms of dementia, improving mood and satisfaction with life, and decreasing feelings of loneliness.”
The British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health

Feedback from both the walkers and volunteers involved in the Accompanied Walks programme at COAM has been unanimously positive.

“I accompanied my mother who was a little unsure about going on the walk but she really enjoyed it. We had lovely weather, our volunteer was helpful, kind and very informative. Everyone we met in the walk was kind too. We both really appreciated the opportunity given.” Accompanied Walker

“The whole experience was quite refreshing and in these ‘troubled times’ a little bit of normality…the wonders of being out with nature, good for body and soul!” Accompanied Walker

We hope to offer Accompanied Walks again next year, so if you are interested, 65 years or older and in need a change of scene, for 2021, please email outreach@coam.org.uk supplying your name and telephone number.

Jaqui Gellman
Outreach at COAM

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Figgy Pudding Recipe

Figgy Pudding Recipe

At our Traditional Christmas event in 2019, one of our costumed volunteers, Jenny made figgy pudding in our Haddenham cottage. Visitors were able to see the pudding being made in the Victorian kitchen and were able to help out with the stirring. Several people have asked for the recipe so here it is:

Figgy Puddling


2 cooking apples
1lb dried figs
1 medium carrot
8 ozs butter
4 ozs soft brown sugar
6ozs wholemeal breadcrumbs
4 ozs wholemeal flour
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of black treacle
mixed spice


  • Peel and core apples,cut into pieces.
  • Put figs, apple and carrot through a fine mincer.
  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add breadcrumbs, flour,spice,minced fruit, lemon rind,juice ,treacle and eggs. Mix well , add a little milk if the mixture is too stiff.
  • Put mixture into a 2pint greased pudding basin or 2 x 1 pint greased pudding basins.
  • Cover with greased parchment/ greaseproof paper and muslin cloth.
  • Place into a saucepan with boiling water halfway up the basin.
  • Cover and steam for 5 hours, add more boiling water from time to time.

Enjoy making and please share the results of your baking with us on our Facebook page.

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Jess the sheep dog at 13 weeks

Well it’s been almost three weeks now and Jess is growing fast, she has gained 1.6 kgs and is noticeably bigger. Dogs are like children but the whole growing and learning thing is accelerated so that a few days can see a dramatic change in behaviour and attitude. She is now allowed out for walks having had her vaccinations so we are learning to walk to heel and getting used to traffic and strange people, she has a bit of a fascination with cars going past so I have to keep a tight hand on the lead and try and distract her as they whiz past. At home we are getting her used to living with a family and knowing her boundaries, plenty of trips to the lawn are paying off as the little accidents lessen off and she is starting to go to the door when the urge is there.

Jess the sheep dog puppy meets the sheep


A few days ago I took her to meet some of the museum staff and to have her first look at sheep. She was well accepted by all so I’m sure she will become a special volunteer in everyone’s hearts. It does somewhat depend on how she turns out as a sheepdog, some of which will be down to my training. Rachael (COAM’s Farm Assistant) and I took her to the sheep for a first look and she wasn’t too keen but they are pretty big. Regular visits will eventually bring out an interest and sometime in the next few months I will let her have a free run to encourage her to herd them we hope.

For now it’s just enjoying her young days being cuddled and played with to hopefully make a friendly happy dog!

Steve Stone
Volunteer Shepherd

Other blog posts by Steve

The circle of life
Jess the sheep dog

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Jess the Sheepdog

A new volunteer for COAM

So a mild enquiry about sheepdog pups that might be available after Christmas resulted in me being told that an old friend of mine who is a top sheepdog trials man might have some puppies, he lived in Sussex so not too far. I called and had a chat telling him I wanted a pup after Christmas if possible. Unfortunately he didn’t have anything currently although he knew of a pup at a neighbours and his dog was the father. I expressed mild interest and asked for some details and pictures to be e-mailed to me.

My old dog Ted was a rough coated, tri colour male dog and that is what we intended to get again as we liked that look, the puppy being offered was a Black and White, short coated bitch! Surely this would not be for us? The picture arrived, not the most appealing picture, they obviously weren’t into marketing!! She did however appear to be nicely marked.

Having established that she did indeed have two eyes I responded that we would like to see some more and a video if possible, inwardly I was not convinced. However when the better pictures arrived we were warming and had pretty much made up our minds to pay them a visit for a proper look, a visit to Sussex was quite appealing, it was a bit of a shock to find out that my old friend had moved to Devon when his neighbour sent the address of their farm!! So were we to go all that way just to see a puppy that was not what we intended to get and at least 3 months too soon. Suffice it to say it didn’t take long to have made arrangements to drive down and see her, stay overnight in a delightful little B&B called the Old Bakehouse in Chulmleigh Devon, go back and collect her the following morning and wend our way back home.

Our trip down was excellent and we arrived early afternoon to be greeted by the owner who led us to a farm pen, opened the door and out ran the sweetest little dog you could imagine, scooped up immediately by my wife Sue who exclaimed “we’re having her” My chances of a good deal had just gone down the drain! Our fate was sealed and after a very pleasant evening in Chulmleigh we found, ourselves back at the farm the following morning collecting our new charge. Money’s changed hands, papers sorted, a supply of her current puppy food obtained, popped in her travelling crate and on our way back home we went. Well talk about a change, our adorable soft little pup turned into a screaming howling wolf cub as she experienced car travel for the first time, we knew what to expect but with a 3-4 hour trip ahead it didn’t bode well. Fortunately after about half an hour she was a little sick, made some mess from a couple of other orifices and then settled down. The rest of the journey was quiet and Jess as she was now called was settling in to life with us.

Steve Stone
Volunteer Shepherd

Other blog posts by Steve

The circle of life
Jess the sheep dog at 13 weeks

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Christmas Gift Guide

Our museum shop is packed full of lots of goodies that make would make great stocking fillers for kids this Christmas so we’ve put together a gift guide. Every purchase made in our shop helps to support the Museum.

Wooden Keyring

Wooden Wildlife Keyrings £3.50

Christmas Stamp

Wooden Christmas Stamps £2.50

Christmas YoYo

Wooden Christmas YoYo £2.50

Wooden Wildlife Bookmarks

Wooden Wildlife Bookmarks £3.50

Wild Weather Book

The Wild Weather Book £10.99
Loads of things to do outdoors in rain, wind and snow – great for every child’s imagination!

Viking Pin Badge

Viking Pin Badge £2.50

Medieval Bracelet

Medieval Bracelet £2.25

History Transfers

History Transfers £2.75


Nature’s Gift Necklaces £3.25


Nature’s Gift Bracelets £3.25

Mega Bug Viewer

Mega Bug Viewers £6.50

Sticky Slug

Sticky Slugs £2.00


Diablo £10.95

Juggling Balls

Juggling Balls £5.95

Pretty purse

Pretty Purse £3.00

Geode Pieces

Geode Pieces £1.60

Tin YoYo

Tin YoYo £2.70

Wooden knitting doll

Wooden Knitting Doll £5.95

Wooden Loom

Wooden Bead Bracelet Loom £10.95

Wooden Bead Bracelet Loom

Wooden Wool Loom £8.50

Colourful Windmill

Colourful Windmill £3.50


Bag of Magnets £2.50

The Museum shop is open Saturdays and Sundays 10am – 5pm until 6th December (excluding Saturday 7th November when the site will be closed for filming).

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