Cymraeg

The Voices from the Archives series is based on recordings in the Oral History Archive at St Fagans National History Museum. Connected to the agricultural activities, demonstrations and displays at the Museum - they provide an insight into the lives and histories of farming people, the agricultural practices in the past, how they developed into contemporary agriculture.

Lambing in Pembrokeshire, 1984

March is lambing time at Llwyn-yr-eos Farm, the Museum’s working farm. Lambing in the past and present was described by Richard James, Portfield Gate, Pembrokeshire, south west Wales, in a recording made in 1984. Aged 79, he recalled lambing in an interview about his life in farming, but also described how it was being done on a farm in the area in the year of the interview. The following short clips are from the recording.

Pembrokeshire born and bred, Richard James had farmed at Lambston Sutton in the south west of the county. It stood between the large county town of Haverfordwest a few miles to the east, and the coastline of St Bride’s Bay to the west. The lowland coastal areas, warmer climate and lower rainfall made agriculture more diverse than in many other parts of Wales, with the keeping cattle and sheep and the growing of early potatoes and cereal crops. The coastal areas could be exposed to the winds and rain from the Atlantic Ocean though, and weather conditions could strongly influence lambing, to which Richard James refers in the first clip:

 

Richard James, Portfield Gate, Pembrokeshire

 

When lambing was to take place was decided by when the ewes were put to the rams. Up until then the rams on the farm had to be kept separate from the sheep. It was always a concern that rams might break through a poor fence or hedge and cause lambing to start at the wrong time. Also, a ram of poorer quality or a different breed from another flock could also result in poorer quality lambs and reduced income. After mating, a ewe is pregnant for between 142 and 152 days, approximately five months or slightly shorter.

In this clip, Richard James describes at what time of year lambing took place on a local farm, and how it was being done by a farmer using a former aircraft hangar.

Richard James, Portfield Gate, Pembrokeshire

The final clip is about working the day and night shifts:

Richard James, Portfield Gate, Pembrokeshire

 

A New Big Cat for Amgueddfa Cymru

We are very pleased to announce that we have a new arrival! Bryn the Sumatran Tiger.

Bryn the Sumatran Tiger

He spent his life at The Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay and was one of its most iconic residents. In his lifetime he gave pleasure to all of the zoo’s visitors, helping to raise the profile of the plight of his species, as Sumatran Tigers are critically endangered. He had a relaxed and amiable personality and so was a key part of The Welsh Mountain Zoo’s 'Keeper for the Day' and 'Animal Encounter' experiences. He sadly died of natural causes in August 2016 at the grand age of 17, which is pretty good for a tiger. He has been portrayed in a natural walking position as if prowling through the jungle looking for prey. He certainly gave our security staff a few frights when he arrived! Standing by him you get a real feeling of the beauty and power of these amazing animals.

Sumatran Tigers only live on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and are the subject of intensive worldwide conservation efforts to save the species. Their numbers have declined drastically over recent years despite these efforts and it is estimated that less than 400-500 tigers remain in the wild. Habitat loss, illegal trade and lack of food have all contributed to this decline. Millions of acres of their forest habitat are cut down every year to make way for intense crop plantations such as palm oil and acacia. This means there is less prey for them to hunt, and that tiger populations have become fragmented, further risking the recovery of the species. The illegal trade in tiger parts is still common despite full national and international protection and tiger parts are openly sold on the island.

But why have a Sumatran Tiger in a Welsh museum? Why have stuffed animals at all? This is a really common question that we are asked at the museum. Museums play an important role as storehouses for biodiversity, keeping a record of a species for posterity. For example we have extinct animals like the Tasmanian Wolf and Great Auk in our collections, we even have a Dodo skeleton. With wild Sumatran tiger numbers as low as they are, it is pertinent now more than ever, to keep a record of this species.

Often museums are one of the first places that people are able to encounter wildlife up close. This puts us in a fantastic position to talk about threatened wildlife, not just abroad, but on our own doorstep. Remember, it is not just exotic species in far-flung places that are in trouble. So we use these iconic specimens to grab your attention and talk about a whole range of issues affecting wildlife around the globe. We want to make our visitors more aware of the natural world around them and to empower them to take a more active role in both enjoying and preserving it.

Bryn will feature at our International Tiger Day on July 29th 2017, so you will have the opportunity to come and see this enigmatic creature up close. So come along, take part in some activities, learn more about what museums do with their collections and what you can do to help tigers like Bryn get off the endangered list!

You can learn more about Sumatran Tigers and what the WWF are doing to protect them here.

You can learn more about protecting British wildlife by looking on The Wildlife Trust website, and RSPB website.

You can learn more about the Vertebrate collections at the museum here.

 

 

We wrote of dust before, for example here and here. The museum is like your home, dust gathers everywhere. Unlike my own house though, the museum is very, very big. The museum's dust problems are correspondingly large.

Last year a student from Cardiff University, Stefan Jarvis, undertook a dust monitoring project in the museum. Stefan was studying for an MSc in Care of Collections, which is a subject very close to my heart. Stefan is also the author of one of our guest blogs. Stefan placed a large number of dust traps around the museum building: in stores and exhibition galleries. You may be familiar with some of the galleries he investigated: our Geology gallery with the dinosaurs, the current “Wriggle” exhibition on worms, the Whale gallery and the Organ gallery where we display some of the largest paintings in the museum.

Collecting dust is really easy: prepare a sampler. Leave it out in a suitable location. Wait. For. Four. Weeks.

Once Stefan had gathered some dust he analysed the samples: he identified each particle under the microscope and determined where they all came from. This is where things started getting really interesting. For while undertaking scientific investigations are often laborious and involves much routine work, the results are often extremely illuminating.

This is what Stefan found:

  • More dust accumulates in areas of high traffic (i.e., many people walking past).
  • More dust accumulates at low levels (the closer you get to floor level the more dust you will find).
  • Dust composition differs between spaces. For example, most dust fibres in a library store are paper fibres, while most fibres in public galleries are textile fibres, hair and skin.
  • We found biscuit crumbs on the dust samplers in two galleries. This indicates that food was being consumed in these galleries.

Now, we love having people in the museum. In fact we undertake some of our collection care work during museum opening hours so that you can see what we are up to a lot of the time. Therefore, we are happy to accept that visitors always leave us a little reminder that they have been, in the form of a few dust particles. You can feel a ‘but’ coming on: but we do not encourage the eating of biscuits (or any other foodstuffs) in our galleries. Eating food in our galleries bears the risk of small amounts of food ending up on the floor, in displays, behind cupboards - or, as part of dust. Food encourages the spread of pest insects which, once they have eaten all the available biscuit crumbs, then start munching our collections. This is not something we endorse, because we try to preserve our collections for you to enjoy.

This means you can actually help us preserve the collections - by not eating in the galleries. We will be doing more work on this in the near future, by encouraging visitors to consume food in our fabulous restaurant or cosy cafe, not in galleries. In the meantime, we really do appreciate your cooperation and understanding for our no-food-in-galleries policy.

Find out more about Care of Collections at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales here.

 

 

 

This year, Oakdale Workmen’s Institute – or the ’Stute as it was known locally – is celebrating its centenary. Built during the First World War, it was at the very heart of community life in Oakdale until the late 1980s when it was moved to the Museum. To mark this important milestone, we recently launched the #Oakdale100 project with the aim of re-interpreting the building and making it alive again with community voices.

As part of the project, we’ve been revisiting our archives – digging out photographs, oral history interviews and objects associated with the building. I’ve been looking specifically at the photographic collection – digitising hundreds of images, with colleagues from the Photography Department, which we previously only held in negative format. The photos document the wide range of events and activies which took place in the Institute – from the visit of Prince Albert in 1920 to amateur dramatics in the 1950s. They also capture the architecture of the building and the fixtures and fittings of each room. My personal favourite is the photo of the library, showing a young boy browsing the shelves.

As well as digitising the material we already have in the collection, we’ve also been busy making connections with the Oakdale community of today. Last year, we held a drop-in workshop in the village, encouraging local people to share their stories and scan their images for the Museum’s archive and People’s Collection Wales.

We also recently set-up a Facebook page for the project and what a response we’ve had! We’ve been inundated with anecdotes and memories, comments and photographs. It’s certainly a powerful tool for re-engaging with the community.

If you have any stories or photographs associated with Oakdale Institute, please get in touch. We would especially like to hear from you if you have photographs of parties or gigs, which we know were regular occurances at the ’Stute in the 1960s-80s.

Hello Bulb Buddies,

Thank you to all schools who have already entered their flower data! Remember to make sure the dates entered are correct and that the height has been entered in millimetres! We have had a few flowers reported for April and lots of very short crocus and daffodils!

If you spot that your entries need amending, just re-enter them to the website with a comment to explain that the new entry is to replace a previous one.

I have enjoyed reading the comments that have been sent with the weather and flower data over the last fortnight! I’ve attached some of these below. An interesting question was raised by Stanford in the Vale Primary, who asked whether they need to enter multiple flower records if the height and flowering date are the same in each? It is still important to enter this flower data, as the number of flowers at a particular height and particular date will impact on the overall averages for the project.

To work out your schools average/mean flowering height for the crocus and daffodil, add all of your crocus or daffodil heights together and divide by the number of entries for that flower.

If you have one flower at 200mm and one at 350mm the mean would be 275mm. If you have one flower at 200mm and ten flowers at 350mm your mean flower height would be 341mm. This is why it is important that you enter all of your flower records.

Every flower record is important and impacts on the overall results. If your plant hasn’t grown by 31st March, please send in a flower record without a date or height and explain this in the comment section. If your plant has grown but hasn’t produced a flower by 31st March please enter the height without a date and explain this in the comments section.

Keep the questions coming Bulb Buddies! There are resources and activities on the website to help you. Once your plant has flowered, why not draw it and label the different parts of the plant? I would love to see photos of your drawings and will post any that are sent in on my next Blog!

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!

Professor Plant

 

Your comments:

We’ve had lots of lovely comments about your plants, sent in with both weather and flower data:

Ysgol Y Wern: Mae'r bylbiau i gyd wedi egnio ac mae sawl blodyn crocws i'w weld!! Mae'r bylbiau ddirgel yn edrych yn diddorol iawn gyda streipiau ar y ddail!

Ysgol Pennant: Mi roedd yn hwyl iawn i tyfu crocws a i weld o.

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: 17 daffodils have all flowered on the same day! Do we still have to enter individual flowers? They all measure the same height! Regards R.

Professor Plant: Hi Stanford in the Vale, I’ve answered your question in detail above as it was the star comment this week! It’s a very good question, but all of the individual flower records are important and can help us to create a bigger picture of the results! I have a special task for you this week, why not work out your school’s average flowering date for this year and last year, and let me know whether your plants flowered earlier or later on average this year! There’s a fun game on BBC Bitesize to help you with Mode, Median, Mean and Range! http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks2/maths/data/mode_median_mean_range/play/

St Robert's R.C Primary School: I am so glad my bulb has flowered.

St Mary's Primary School: Our first crocus flower has opened. We are all really excited.

Ellel St John's CE Primary School: They've grown quite quickly and are just opening.

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: We will send photographs later today. The crocus have a beautiful radiant deep purple colour.

Rougemont Junior School: Our Crocus are flowering and our Daffodils are growing well. We hope it will be sunny tomorrow. I think we are in luck!!!

Tonyrefail Primary School: Hi Professor Plant most of our plants have grown. We are measuring them. Nine of are crocuses have flowered.

Garstang St. Thomas' CE Primary School: We had a couple of frosty mornings this week but our crocus plants are still flowering and all our daffodils have buds on them now.

Beulah School: A lot of crocuses have flowered but none of the daffodils have yet.

Boston West Academy: 2 daffodils have grown

Ysgol Deganwy: all of the plants came out the soil yay!

Rougemont Junior School: our crocus is growing well but needs sunshine and warmth to open its flowers.

Barmston Village Primary School: The bulbs are starting to grow!

Loch Primary School: The plants have grown quite a lot!

Ysgol Deganwy: All of the bulbs have come up from the soil.

Broad Haven Primary School: Our daffodils and crocus now have leaves but no flowers yet.

Loch Primary School: We are happy to see our plants growing!

Tonyrefail Primary School: Our Crocuses have also started to grow.

Garstang St. Thomas' CE Primary School: We were back into school on Tuesday. We had a surprise as J's crocus had blossomed and a lot of us have noticed our plants have grown buds so we are all on stand-by to record our blooms too. Storm Doris came on Thursday so we didn't catch all the rain as most of it was sideways! Luckily none of our bulb pots were blown over.

Professor Plant: Fantastic Bulb Buddies, I'm glad to hear you are watching your plants so carefully! Don't worry about sideways rain as the rain gauge is designed to collect a sample of rainfall. Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!

 

We’ve had lots of insightful comments about the weather, and many of you commented on storm Doris. More information on storm Doris can be found here: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/barometer/uk-storm-centre/storm-doris

St Robert's R.C Primary School: Storm Doris wedi chwythu y brigau oddiar y coed ar dydd iau.

Ysgol Pentrefoelas: Yn wlyb iawn ar Dydd Llyn ond wedyn yn mynd yn sych.

Ysgol Y Wern: Oer iawn, iawn wythnos yma. Wedi bwrw eira ar ddydd Gwener.

Carnbroe Primary School: We had lots of rain on Tuesday and we were slipping about the garden while we were checking on our plants. Still no flowering yet. Nearly everyone's bulb has begun to show shoots. C's bulb has not come through the soil yet.

Professor Plant: Ooo be careful if the ground is slippery Bulb Buddies! I hope C’s plants grow, but if they haven’t grown by 31st March please let me know by entering a flower record but leaving the date and height blank. It’s as important to record this as it is flower records!

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: Hello, this week has been quite chilly and on Monday it was icy. It has been rainy to. Bye Bye.

Rougemont Junior School: It's going well. Hopefully it will be sunny tomorrow.

Arkholme CE Primary School: This week the Temperature has gone down quite a bit on Thursday. And there was not a lot of rain on Friday and Wednesday are bulbs are starting to grow so we are quite pleased. Thank you very much.

Garstang St. Thomas' CE Primary School: It’s been getting colder this week but our bulbs are still growing.

Darran Park Primary: The temperature has been quite consistent over the week. There has been a drop in the amount of rainfall this week.

Henllys CIW Primary: It has been snowy a little bit this morning.

Staining C of E Primary School: There has not been much rain during the second part of the week. It has been a bit warmer as well. There was some rain on Monday and Tuesday.

Arkholme CE Primary School: This week was a very dull and wet week. There was a little bit of growth from the bulbs that we planted. It was also a very cold week on Friday the sun came out and the temperature rised. Best wishes.

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: Hello, On monday it was teacher training day so we couldn't record it. But this week it has been hot and cold. On Thursday we had storm Doris so it was very cold. Bye,bye.

Ysgol Rhostyllen: This is fun.

Our Lady of Peace Primary School: I liked doing the temperature because it was fun.

Broad Haven Primary School: Yr 5 are in LLangrannog this week so we are recording the weather. Rain and gales at the end of the week.

Professor Plant: Thank you for filling in Bulb Buddies, I hope you enjoyed the project! Good work.