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THE WORK OF A COUNTY DAIRY INSTRUCTRESS IN ENGLAND AND
Miss DORA G. SAKER, N. D. D., B. D. F. D., head of dairy department, Canning.
ton Court Farm Institute, Somerset, England.
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen: In giving you this paper, I feel it is, to some extent rather out of place in a country where we are at the present moment because you have such a tremendous large area to deal with, and the work that we county dairy instructresses do in England and Wales is done only in very small areas.
For example, I am at present working in Somerset County. It is 100 miles from east to west and about 70 miles from north to south, and in that area we have 2,000 farms, 1,000 of those farms being cheese-making farms or milk-selling. So you will understand that the people are very much closer together. Therefore it is impossible to make comparison with the work which is being carried on in these large tracts that you see on this side. Therefore, I can only deal with the subject really from rather an insular point of view, but I am trusting that delegates from smaller countries like our own will appreciate it, perhaps, more than those from the larger countries.
Dairy instruction in England and Wales is given under the direction of the county councils in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. The instructress is selected, appointed, and paid by the county council and works under the officers of the county, but her work is inspected at intervals by inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture, who contribute largely to the expenses incurred, so that it is not entirely borne by the county rates. Dairy instruction, as with many other branches of work, is available to any rate payer in the county where the work is carried on, and, under these conditions, when application is made for the services of a dairy instructress the charge or fee is merely nominal and is payable to the county council authority and has nothing to do with the instructress. An instructress is expected to keep accurate records of the work done, with, if possible, the results of that work. Thus improvement in the prices obtained for dairy produce after help has been given shows the value of the instruction.
An instruct ress is also required, in the case of class work, to keep registers of attendance similar to those used in schools.
The work of a county dairy instructress as carried on in England and Wales may be divided up into five different sections:
1. Lectures and demonstrations.
(a) Milking classes.
(c) Cheese making classes. 3. Temporary schools:
(a) Farmhouse schools.
(b) Cooperative cheese schools. 4. Advisory visits. 5. Permanent dairy schools at farm institutes.
1. LECTURES AND DEMONSTRATIONS.
This branch is placed first, as it is due to this work that much fresh ground is broken and the general public get to know of the facilities that are available. With regard to lectures, it is found that the winter is the most suitable time, both from the point of view of the instructress and also the country audiences. Owing to the shortage of milk, all class work is more difficult to arrange; therefore the instructress has more time available, and, on the other hand, in country districts where amusements are scarce lectures are appreciated to while away the long winter evenings. It is found that a course of lectures, say, from four to six, are most appreciated, and the course should cover the side of dairying particularly suited to the district, in addition to general dairy subjects. Thus in il milk-selling area, lectures on the production and preparation of milk for sale, with demonstrations on milk testing, etc., would be helpful, while in butter-making and cheese-making districts those respective subjects would be most popular. Demonstration work in conjunction with lectures usually appeals to the mind better than purely technical lectures and gives better results. Thus in a county where all three types of itinerant classes are being carried on, a course of three lectures with demonstrations might well include, in the first, milking with an artificial cow's udder and milk testing; in the second, a butter-making demonstration; and, in the third, the making of a small cheese with improvised or household utensils. This gives the audience a fair idea of the aims and objects of the work. They also get to know the instructress and are then not so diffident about joining classes when formed.
Demonstrations at agricultural shows are also found to be of great assistance, and this part of the work might be extended in dairving districts. Instead of butter-making competitions only being held, as hitherto, a working dairy with demonstrations in cheese and butter making, the separation of cream and the preparation and sale of all dairy products attracts the attention of visitors to the show, and they can then ask for any help they may need.
2. TRAVELING OR ITINERANT CLASSES.
Before dealing with the separate types of classes, the method of holding them all being similar, it may be discussed on general lines. The instructress engaged in this work visits the village or district where desired; and, having found suitable accommodations, holds a class for a period, usually 10 days. The. time the class is held is arranged to meet the convenience of the pupils attending. A small fee of, say, half a crown, is charged for the course.
At the end of the class an examination is held, either by the county agricultural organizer or by another instructless, and a certificate awarded to those who obtain above a set standard of marks. This examination is found to be most helpful to the work, for it not only sustains the pupils' interest in the work, but also keeps the instructress up to a high standard. It is so easy when teaching people who in some ways know less than the teacher
for the latier to go back in her work without realizing that any such thing is happening.
Now to consider the three different types of classes mentioned:
(a) Milking classes.-An instructress engaged in this work must be a first-class milker and know how to manage cows, for in addition to finding a room, etc., a farmer who is willing to lend his cows for the use of the pupils must be found. The usual practice is for the pupils, generally school children, to meet for the first few days in a room, and learn the mechanical action of milking on an artificial cow's udder. The udders used are on stands and made of rubber, having an orifice at the base of the teat which resembles the sphincter muscle of a cow's udder. They hold from
. 2 to 3 gallons of water, and the pupils are taught to approach them in the same way they would a cow and use the similar action in inilking. When they are proficient they are then allowed access to the cows. In this way the damage to the cows is very slight. In addition to the mechanical action of milking, the pupils are taught to have clean conditions during milking and the correct methods of cleansing milk vessels.
(6) Butter-making classes.—This system of teaching butter making was the first kind of traveling class introduced into this country, and up to the period of the war it was the principal type of dairy instruction practiced on itinerant lines. The great difficulty in this class of work is the bulky plant, and for this reason in many counties the instructress moves from center to center with a van for the plant. Where it is dispatched by rail the equipment is usually restricted to six churns and six butter workers, and, therefore, if there are any pupils over that number they have to work in pairs. Cream is usually purchased and sent to each center, the pupils themselves bringing their own cream to churn if they particularly wish to do so. The disadvantage of this work is that the pupils do not have instruction in the preparation of the cream for butter making, which of course is one of the main causes of failure in the making of high class butter.
(c) Cheese-making classes.-Until the war very little work of this kind was done in England, but the shortage of cheese gave great fillip to the making of cheese on a small scale, with small quantities of milk which would otherwise have been fed to stock.
The equipment of a traveling cheese class should consist of a complete outfit for making cheese on a very small scale, and in addition various improvised utensils to illustrate that it is not essential to expend a large amount of capital. These classes are especially intended for the families of small farmers who may wish to make the best use of any small quantity of surplus milk they may have in the flush period of the year. Each pupil attending-usually there are 8 to 10—makes a small cheese daily with improvised utensils, the amount of milk dealt with being from 2 gallons upward. The variety of cheese made varies, according to the district.
In addition to the practical work of these three kinds of traveling schools, the pupils are given short talks or lectures on dairy subjects. It is found that these classes create a great interest, and pupils after attending these short courses are anxious to go to fixed centers for further training.
For the successful working of these classes the aim of the instructress is to convert, as far as is possible, the room where the classes are held into a dairy, and to instill into the pupils the fact that the law of cleanliness must be carried out in all operations connected with dairy work. If this is accomplished much good work can be done, and the pupils learn by careful attention to detail the elements of successful work on larger lines.
3. TEMPORARY SCHOOLS.
Under this heading we may consider the two types of schools that are held at certain centers for three to nine months.
(a) Farmhouse schoo!8.- These are usually for cheese making, but occasionally are held for butter making. In the former case these schools are only held in counties and districts where the practice of farmhouse cheese making is the ordinary method of mill disposal. A farm is selected, and the pupils come to this farm to taught by an instructress for periods varying from one to four weeks. Board and lodging are provided in the farmhouse, and the teaching is similar to that practiced in a farmhouse. The pupils attending are usually farmers' wives, daughters, and sons, or people wishing to receive training to go out as cheese makers.
The school moves each year into a different district, a fresh farm being selected. It is thought in this way that more pupils are obtained, as many can attend for daily instruction who can not leave their homes for any length of time.
Much useful instruction has been given in the past by this system of temporary cheese school, but the disadvantage is that it is not progressive enough for present needs. The expense of fitting up a fresh farm each year is great, and as the accommodation for students is limited, it is questionable whether the good done is commensurate with the amount expended. These schools can only be of service in certain districts and are not found away from cheese-making areas. The type of temporary school for butter-making classes is not very common, but a room is sometimes selected and fitted up for the purposes and classes held for one to three months. At these centers the working of a separator is demonstrated with the best methods of treating cream, and therefore a further stage of instruction is given beyond that obtained at a traveling butter school.
(6) Cooperative cheese schools. These schools are arranged to be held at centers where there is likely to be a surplus supply of milk during the flush season, the object being to demonstrate to farmers the advantages of cooperation in this respect. A committee of farmers and those interested is formed, suitable accommodation is found, and the dairy is equipped to handle the amount of milk likely to be available. The instructress in charge superintends the working of the concern, taking the pupils from the district, and staying sufficiently long at the center until she has trained someone to be capable of carrying on. After the school has been run for some months every assistance is given in showing those interested how to continue as a cooperative society. Surplus milk in this way is converted into cheese with the least possible expense and labor. A glut is also prevented which would otherwise result in waste. At these schools the amount of milk dealt with varies, but it is not usually considered advisable to start with less than 250 gallons daily. This amount may, of course. increase and the quantity ultimately amount to thousands.
4. ADVISORY VISITS.
The fourth section of a dairy instructress's work is perhaps the most difficult of all, and in addition to a thorough knowledge of her subject she requires a great deal of tact if success is to be obtained.
There are, roughly, two kinds of advisory visits. First those which one may term "calls,” when the visit only lasts an hour or so, and the second kind when a stay in the house for a period of time varying in length up to a week is made.
Visits of advice in England are usually only paid when invited. In this direction dairy instruction in England differs from Scotland. In Scotland a system of visits is carried out, the instructor calling at any time or place he considers advisable. Calls for advice are usually asked for after an instructress has been lecturing or demonstrating in a district. That such advice is available is usually announced on the bills advertising the lectures. These visits embrace all branches of dairying:
The second kind of advisory visits is usually only asked for in a cheese-making county. Thus if a farmer's wife, daughter, or cheese maker is in some difficulty, application is made for the help of an instructress. The object of these visits is not to teach cheese making, but to give help to those who already can make cheese, but require further knowledge. For the best results in this work, the instructress watches the method practiced the first day, offering no advice until she sees the result of the method practiced. Then the second day she takes control of the dairy, making the cheese entirely herself and altering as she judges fit. Provided her alterations show an improvement, the next day and days following, the instructress and the cheese maker work together with the fresh method, and the instructress stays until the cheese maker feels confident to carry on without her assistance.
The farmer applying for these visits of advice pays a small fee (e. g., 10 shillings) and provides accommodation for the instructress, conveying her to and from the nearest station or farm at the beginning and conclusion of her visit.
5. PERMANENT DAIRY SCHOOLS.
Under this section we may consider the work carried out as being the fountainhead of instruction, help, and advice, given in the particular county where the dairy school is situated. The permanent school should demonstrate the ideal conditions prevailing in the different branches of dairy work. For this it is essential that not only should there be a well-equipped school carried on along business lines, but also a herd of Jairy cows, so that the production and treatment of milk can be taught in all its branches.
An instructress at a permanent school is required to have a knowledge of all the previously mentioned branches of the work so that the staff working in the county can offer her help to the people with whom they may come in contact, so that should they not be available.