Luca has a passion for all things farming and unlike many youngsters his age, his weekend can start very early indeed.
The 13-year-old balances his school studies and a keen appetite for running while volunteering on various farming-related initiatives in Guernsey.
He starts his weekend assisting on Roy and Carol Le Poidevin’s dairy farm, just inland from Perelle.
Luca was first transfixed with Guernsey’s handsome breed on a trip to the ‘countryside’ with his firefighter father Shane. ‘He’s loved cows from a young age, he would sit in the car and be fascinated by their inquisitive nature,’ said Shane.
With a herd of 80 cows, Roy spotted the potential young farmer watching his cows graze in a field and offered the young apprentice some experience working with Guernsey’s own breed.
Five years later and Luca is still living his dream every weekend. His day starts with transporting cows from the field in spring and summer to the milking parlour. Or if it’s winter, from the cow shed to the parlour. He helps prepare the feed in the barn and in the nearby field and knows every cow by its name. He has now seen many calves reared to fully fledged milking cows.
So what has been Luca’s favourite moment since he discovered a love of dairy farming?
‘The first day the herd is let back out into the field following a winter kept warm in the shed. They hop, skip and jump with delight. That’s a very magical moment for me,’ said Luca.
A career in farming beckons for this young Guernseyman but Luca’s eyes have been opened to many of the opportunities a life in the country can bring. Luca spent his formative years on the Le Poidevins’ farm, riding shotgun on Roy’s tractor, but will soon be driving it himself and Roy’s faith in his young student has led to Luca joining The West United Agricultural and Horticultural Society, where he has twice received the young handler award.
Beyond his duties at the Le Poidevins’ farm, Luca takes on the responsibility of caring for two young calves on behalf of the island’s conservation herd. He was just eight when he first got involved. ‘We were on one of our many visits to see the cows when Julia Henney, the conservation herd manager, was on site and Luca asked if he could help out. He’s been involved ever since,’ said Luca’s mother, Kelly.
Luca is currently looking after the latest young calves, Massie and Fergie, who are located in a field a short drive along the coast at L’Eree. The young calves bound up to Luca as he prepares their food. He has single-handedly raised them from an early age of six weeks and attends to them every day to give them milk, water, check they’re OK and muck them out. They are then introduced to the herd when nine months old. Luca’s duties include ensuring the calves have plenty of water, feeding them, and maintaining and pegging out the field.
His appetite for all things farming doesn’t seem to have limits as not only is he volunteering on one farm and helping the conservation herd, Luca also loves helping out at the Accidental Zoo, close to Castel School.
The Accidental Zoo’s vision is to create an engaging, fun and stimulating outdoor learning facility where children get to interact with animals and learn about their welfare, animal husbandry, the outdoor world and conservation. Luca helps look after a variety of species, including everything from ducklings and chicks to pigs, miniature ponies, emus, snakes and tarantulas.
‘I love every minute of my farming responsibilities, there’s a good mix of practical stuff and then caring for the animals.’
With more than 80 cows under his watchful eye and plenty of Guernsey’s green and pleasant land to maintain, Luca is already a part of the island’s extensive farming community.
‘With a new generation of young enthusiasts like Luca coming into the dairy and agricultural communities, the farming industry should continue to thrive,’ said Guernsey Dairy general manager Andrew Tabel.
‘Guernsey farmers contribute significantly to the economy, manage more than half of our island’s countryside, are custodians of the world famous Guernsey breed and follow high standards of animal welfare.’
Luca is not entirely sure where his love of farming will take him but he’s certainly got the bug. ‘I’m still figuring out what I want to do in the future as there are so many opportunities, more than I imagined, and all sorts of things you can do.
‘I have lots of ideas and I enjoy working with all the people I have met through farming and gaining experience and advice from them. I am hoping to carry on learning and would certainly urge others my age to join in. The local farming community is very friendly, I’ve learnt so much and the animals are amazing. Especially the cows.’