Harry’s Story- Stories of a Dairy farmer


About Harry
Harry is a dairy farmer in Zennor, on the North coast of Cornwall. The fields in Zennor are particularly small, with very old stone hedges. Dairy farming has seen some of the biggest changes out of all types of farming, with mechanization playing a large part in this. Now there are even robotic milking machines. Harry has found lots of traces of the past on his land, showing signs that this land was used by humans all the way back to the Iron Age (from 800BC to 43AD).

What to look for…

  • See if you can remember any of the changes that Harry has seen in his lifetime.
  • Have a think about what this land would have been like before Harry’s family farmed here.

Alternatively, watch this digital story on YouTube here.

Ideas for discussion…

  • Are any pupils from a dairy farm? Do they have anything to share?
  • Can you imagine what it was like to hand milk a herd of cows?
  • What changes has Harry seen to dairy farming?
  • How do you think dairy farming will change in the future?
  • Do you remember what numbers Harry mentioned?
  • How do you think this land was used before Harry’s family farmed it? What did Harry find on his land and what does this tell us about what happened on the land in the past?

Ask a local dairy farmer…

  • What changes have you seen to dairy farming over your lifetime?
  • How has the number of dairy cows you have and the way you milk them changed?
  • Did your family farm before you? If yes, what was farming like when they farmed compared to now?
  • Do you know anyone with a robotic milking machine? If so, can you tell us about how this works?
  • What do you think will happen to dairy farming in the future?
  • What do you feel about this?


Video Camera/s

This story lends itself to role-play; documenting the dramatic changes that dairy farming has witnessed in recent decades though acting.

Introduce the activity
Explain to the class that they will all become investigative journalists for the day. Their brief is to create a piece of film that shows how dairy farming has changed.

Research the history of dairy farming online
Get children to identify the key changes to dairy farming and research each area further online.

Key points to look up: Hand milking, early milking parlours, herringbone milking parlours, rotary milking parlours and robotic dairies.

Split the class up into teams of 6
Teams should be mixed ability.

Work as a group to come up with a news story about dairy farming. Decide on a dramatic headline
This could be set in the past, present or future and needs to focus on a particular event or development to dairy farming. Children should be encouraged to use their imagination.

Example headlines:
‘Power cut forces remote farm to resort to hand milking’
‘Open day at first robotic milking machine in County.’

Designate the following roles to each group

  • Newsreader
  • Agricultural expert
  • Interviewee/s x2
  • Reporter
  • Cameraman

 Get groups to work together to decide on the following:

  • What is your news station called?
  • What are the main points you need to cover?
  • When is the story set? What year?
  • How will the newsreader introduce the story?
  • What will the agricultural expert have to say?
  • Who will the reporter interview? Where (will you have an accent)?
  • What questions will the reporter ask the interviewees?
  • Are there any props you could use to bring the story to life?
  • How will you conclude the story?

Split up to develop each role/write scripts
Get children to divide off and work quietly to produce scripts for each part. Get the cameraman to explore possible settings for filming and decide on what angle he/she will film from. Encourage interviewees to think about developing their character- accents, gestures etc.

Come back together as a group and rehearse
Firstly get the group to read through their scripts in order and make any last minute amendments. Then get groups to do a run through with the cameraman filming each scene. If possible enable groups to watch the practice footage and feedback before the final performance.

See ‘Get hands on’ for creative ways to develop this idea further.

Perform the news report in a quiet setting and bring the footage together into short films
If children are able to use video editing software this could be carried out as a set activity. If not, footage may need to be filmed in one continuous piece, pausing the camera between each scene.

Get hands on…

Can vary, depending on what resources you have.

Get children to make or gather props/costumes for their performance

Work as a class to create a newsroom in the classroom
This can then be used by all groups and adapted as necessary.

Create backdrops for the ‘out on location’ scenes
Using large sheets of paper (combining more than 1 sheet if necessary) get each group to create a backdrop that they can film the interviewing in front of. This could be using large-scale collage or paint (easy-painters are great for this) and can be adapted depending on what resources you have.

Animate the backdrop with 3D characters/objects on sticks (optional)
To bring the scene to life children can create 3D collage characters on sticks (for example cows to go against a field backdrop). These can be operated during filming by group members not involved in this scene.

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