Countryfile is in County Durham. Matt Baker visits the family farm, where his children help with lambing. Julia Bradbury learns more about an adder project on the moors.
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County Durham. A rich and varied landscape
of farmland, hills and open moorland.
Snaking its way through the heart of the county, the River Wear.
It was once one of the dirtiest rivers in the country,
thanks mainly to industrial pollution.
These days, it's so clean that some people actually like to swim in it!
Not me, though. I just like doing this.
And it's the county Matt likes to call home.
-Come on! Dinner!
I was lucky enough to grow up here, on this farm, and this weekend,
we are back to give my children a real taste of lambing.
Right then, kids, that's it. Fill the feeder.
But elsewhere, there is a shadow hanging over lambing this season.
In maternity units like this,
the nerve-wracking question now facing farmers
is just how many of the new arrivals
will be born dead, or terribly deformed,
because of a horrific new virus called Schmallenberg.
I will be investigating its impact
and asking what is being done about it.
And Adam has got a bit of a challenge in Devon.
It's 6.30 in the morning, I have only just woken up
and we are out here to catch around 70 feral goats.
Just got to take them up the road and put them in a pen. Easy-peasy!
County Durham is at the heart of the North East of England.
This beautiful, rolling landscape has a heritage
embedded in heavy industry and farming.
But more recently, it has become an area of regeneration
and a destination for tourists.
If they are lucky, some of these visitors will get
a glimpse of one of this country's most enigmatic and shy residents.
Yup, don't seem to have hit anybody. Not that there is anybody to hit!
Supposedly, you are more likely to get killed by a rogue golf ball
then you are to get bitten
by this country's only venomous snake, the adder.
And for me, that is good news,
because today we are going adder hunting.
And I don't like snakes!
Adder populations are declining in the UK.
Along with the challenges of everyday survival,
they are having to cope with a new threat - inbreeding.
-How are you doing?
'Sarah Edwards and a bunch of volunteers
'are running a project to try to discover what is happening.'
Sarah, why are we searching for snakes today?
Well, we are trying to establish adder numbers in our area.
We want to find out where we've got adder populations and from that,
we want to have a look at the genetic diversity of the individuals
to make sure we haven't got what is known as inbreeding depression.
What is that? What are the signs?
The signs are in lots of areas, stillborn young,
deformities on the snakes, being born
with one eye or eyes that are closed over,
scales that are deformed, which leaves them open to infection.
And this is because they are not breeding with a wide enough group?
Yes, because the DNA pool is getting smaller and smaller.
And you are doing DNA testing on them?
We are collecting skins that we have found.
They will be able to tell us if individual snakes do
look like they are suffering from
inbreeding depression or breeding anomalies. Hopefully, today,
we will get the results from the university, so you will see
some of the information we have been gathering.
All we need now is some snakes.
Adders are poisonous, which gives them
an unfair reputation for being aggressive.
They are actually shy creatures
but at this time of year they are coming out of hibernation.
They can grow up to 65 centimetres long.
If you see one, by all means, admire their zigzag patterns
and distinctive V on their heads but never try to pick one up.
Where are they likely to be basking, Sarah?
You will find them out in the open ground.
They will be getting their body temperatures up.
But you usually find them in areas where you get a break
in the vegetation, so that if they need
to move away or need to get back undercover,
they will go into that grassy area at the side.
'Sarah needs to catch the adders for her research.
'She is an expert at this, so I am stepping back
'as this part can be tricky and dangerous.
'Specially trained volunteer David Liddle is on hand to help.
'So, fortunately, I can keep my distance.'
They have identified a female adder, which they are about to capture.
'They get the adder into a plastic box
'so it can be handled in complete safety.'
Right, I am going to approach cautiously.
I must say, this is a comfortable viewing of this adder for me.
What have we got here? A female, what are you going to do?
We have managed to get it inside a box,
which is the safest way for us to handle her.
You are poised there with the camera.
Are you just going to photograph the snake in the box?
We can study it later and it does not put too much
stress on the snake, we will release it quickly.
We can also see off the photograph if there is any abnormalities.
Just looking at her there, what sort of condition is she in?
She looks in really good condition. She is an adult female, we think
she is probably about 10 years old, so she is the perfect breeding age.
-She is healthy, she looks quite fat. We will weigh her.
So you have obviously taken into account the weight of the box?
Yes, that has been done in advance.
So we will have the weight, the photograph
and the mark of this particular animal so we can identify it,
and monitor if she loses condition next year.
What does she weigh?
She weighs in at 450.9, so she is quite healthy,
I wouldn't like to get a bite off her!
Yes, I think we can all vouch for that.
'The next thing to do is to mark the skin with a non-toxic pen.
'The only way to do this is to get her out of the box.
'That's me backing away!
'For safety, the adder is encouraged to work her way up a tube,
'which helps keep her calm.
'She is quickly identified and then set free.'
We will release her back where we found her,
make sure she is in the right habitat.
I still don't like them but they are fascinating creatures.
'Julia - named after me, apparently -
'will be monitored and become part of a nationwide survey.
'Adders can travel up to a kilometre to find a mate
'but their habitats are being disturbed and the snakes are tending
'to stay within smaller areas, which can lead to this inbreeding.
'So, DNA results will tell if there is a problem on this site.
'Dr Noel Carter has brought along his findings.'
Noel, you've got the results and rather revolting snake skins too.
What have they revealed?
So these two snake skins were taken from this site
and what we're seeing is there is a bit of genetic variability
but there are worrying signs that there's convergence
and inbreeding taking place.
We need to monitor that over the next couple of seasons.
Sarah, what do you do about that?
We'll carry on with our monitoring and get as many records as possible
but we're really looking to increase the habitat
and the corridors these animals move from.
The early warning signs of inbreeding are present
for this adder clan in Durham,
so work to monitor these shy creatures will continue...
just not by me!
Now, a few weeks ago on Countryfile
we covered the story about a deadly new virus
spreading across the country, targeting cattle and sheep.
This week, John's been investigating what's being done about it.
You may find some of the images in this report upsetting.
It's early spring - lambing time - a busy time on farms
up and down the country.
But this year isn't like other years.
This year, farmers are braced for the worst.
And that's because of a mysterious new virus,
first spotted on the continent last summer.
Now it's here and its effects are spreading.
Not only is it devastating, it's horrific.
The virus attacks livestock,
causing massive deformities in newborn animals,
as Adam saw back in February.
Slightly deformed front legs.
They don't quite straighten up properly.
No, they've got strange knee joints, haven't they?
Schmallenberg is thought to have been spread by infected midges.
They struck the south coast late last summer.
Adult animals seemed unaffected.
Only when their young were born did anyone realise there was a problem.
What started in the south could well move up country,
as sheep further north give birth.
Trevor and Pat Foss farm in Northamptonshire.
As yet, no sign of Schmallenberg here?
It's a bit like that.
At the moment, no. We've just started, on Tuesday.
We've had 14 lambs so far and things are going well at the moment.
But if it arrives...?
Well, we'll have to deal with it. We've no choice, have we?
We haven't been able to do anything prior to it coming.
It's something unforeseen.
So we just have to handle it the same as anything else that crops up.
To me, and most farmers, it's the mental side of things -
the unknown and the worry of having to deal with it.
That's the real issue, I think.
Latest figures show there are now 235 infected farms -
still only a fraction of the 54,000 that have sheep and cattle.
Kent and East and West Sussex have been badly hit.
The south has born the brunt
because infected midges first landed there last autumn.
Billions of them. Blown across the Channel.
They're huge plumes of midges, aren't they?
Is that really representing the actual size?
It's definitely representing where the air's gone.
We don't really know at what densities the midges fly at.
Do they suddenly stop on the Channel coast, really?
Or does the wind blow them further?
The wind will continue much further
but we think midges can only fly for around 12 hours
before they run out of energy.
So we stop modelling where they're flying after 12 hours
and that shows the destination.
-As soon as they hit land, they find something to bite.
This still doesn't explain how the virus is spreading further
but, like the bluetongue outbreak five years ago, it is.
That was another midge-borne disease,
another headache for farmers.
So is what's happening now a case of deja vu?
Well, not exactly.
Back then, the government acted quickly
to bring in movement restrictions
and made bluetongue a notifiable disease.
This time the response has been quite different. So why?
To get some answers, I'm visiting the Chief Vet, Nigel Gibbons.
First, the question of why farmers
aren't legally required to report Schmallenberg.
Why isn't it a notifiable disease?
With this disease, we're not either going to slaughter animals
or interfere with farming business. We don't need to make it compulsory.
But, from a lay point of view, with bluetongue,
which turned out not to be all that serious,
you did take a lot of precautions. It was notifiable.
There was a vaccine available
and it seemed a lot of action was being taken.
-With Schmallenberg, it does not seem that action is there.
This is a different disease.
The interesting and sad thing is,
if it affects an animal at the right time in pregnancy -
early in pregnancy - it can cause deformations in the foetuses.
So the newborns are deformed and what we're seeing this year,
both in Europe and this country,
is the effect of that previous infection.
That seems to be the biggest impact,
which is very different to bluetongue,
which was causing serious disease in adult cattle, adult sheep.
Farmers were clear this was something they were very worried about.
For those in the firing line, though, Schmallenberg is bad enough.
Farmer Clement Somerset is in one of the worst-hit counties, West Sussex.
He lost 45 lambs out of 165
that were born earlier this year. Losing lambs is bad enough
but Clement fears there could be worse to come.
Schmallenberg doesn't just strike sheep.
25 farms with cattle have been affected so far.
Right now, Clement has no way of knowing
if his have escaped infection.
You've got 27 cows giving birth,
or about to give birth in a couple of months,
they must be your next big worry.
Yes. The cows are a much bigger worry, in a way,
than the sheep because the whole scale of the cattle is much bigger.
If a calf comes out with fused, twisted limbs,
well, it's not going to be able to be born
and we won't be able to manipulate it to be born.
So caesareans will be required, vets will be required to do it.
Long-term threat to the mothers and certainly their productivity.
And are you steeling yourself up to the fact
that some of your calves could well be victims and deformed?
Yes. It is a thought that we have to face -
the fact that those that are going to calve in two or three months
may well be deformed.
They may well be carrying the virus.
It's hoped the midges carrying the disease died out over winter.
But suppose they survived,
or worse still, newly-hatched midges become infected?
In a few minutes I'll be discovering how science is responding
to the threat of Schmallenberg
and I'll be asking, is a pattern now developing
that could see more of these mystery diseases hitting our shores?
These moors and rugged hillsides of County Durham are my home turf.
It's where I bring my family for a spot of peace and quiet.
Or to get stuck in down on the farm.
It's lambing time on our family farm,
so this weekend we're all back to help out.
Bright and early, we're all out feeding the new mums.
My wife Nicola's here with our two children - Luke and Molly.
Come on, sheep!
Come and get it!
My mum runs a flock of pedigree Hampshire Downs -
the most northerly organic Hampshires in the UK.
Mum's been lambing for just over a month
and they're still popping out.
-Well, we have a very expectant mum here. Early signs.
-Waters have gone.
-We need to pen her, don't we?
We just give her this pen, really,
so the little lambs aren't in danger of being trampled or anything like that.
It also stops them from wandering too far.
But there's always one adventurous soul, keen to explore.
Come on, number 41.
Back you go.
My little ones love to help out,
even if Molly can't quite reach the hay rack.
The newborns need numbering
and I'm about to let Luke loose with a marker spray.
-I know, it's amazing, isn't it? Go for it.
Good! That's it, just put the little bottom on
cos we didn't quite see that.
Great. That's a number four.
Perfect. Now you know how it feels.
-All right? Want to do it for real?
That's it. And then a line along the bottom. That's it. Good!
That's it and then all the way down.
Good! That's perfect!
Good. You've got quite a lot of it on your cheek.
Does it look like I've got green chicken pox?
It does look like you've got green chicken pox, yes.
I don't think the other spectators are as impressed as me!
Up at the farmhouse, my dad is starting the next round of feeding.
You may be wondering why we have an outdoor freezer in the garden.
This, believe it or not, is where me dad keeps all of his bird seed.
We've got such a variety
just because of all the different species of birds that we have.
So all the different seeds are tailored to each of the birds.
We've nuts, here, general peanuts. Various sunflower seeds as well.
These are, like, thistle seeds, OK? So naturally, in the wild,
goldfinches pop down and take all the little seeds off the seedheads
but we've got bucket loads of that as well.
And, yes, let me show you the next stage cos it gets more impressive.
And here we are at the live aviary.
Basically, we've set up this bird activity centre
right opposite the kitchen window.
Why feed all these birds and then not see them?
-I think I've counted over 20 species out here.
-Now, Luke, I'll pop that in there.
That's it. Good lad.
-Go and grab that. You manage?
Go on, have a go!
'As well as rarer species of birds,
'pheasants also pay a visit to the bird buffet.'
We've put a load of wheat in the top.
The pheasant comes underneath, with its beak.
Give it a little tap with your foot, again, Luke.
That's it, look. And it all pops out.
How many pheasants did you say we had here the other day?
20. All at one time.
We've turned into bird farmers. Look at this! This is a daily occurrence!
All ideal for a super view whilst doing the washing up...
or even a spot of kitchen-window photography.
We don't normally... We don't normally climb into the sink!
This is how we do it when cameras are here!
Well, now the birds have had their fill,
it's time to get back to the sheep.
The ewe from earlier still hasn't given birth.
She finally did a few hours later.
Well, the film crew have gone.
This ewe is now minutes away from giving birth, if not seconds.
Thankfully, I've got a Handycam,
so we can give you an idea of what happens from here.
There we go. That's not a big lamb.
I don't know what all that fuss was about.
Thankfully, her twins were fighting fit
but there's always a few weaker ones, like this one,
that need a helping hand.
There we go. You are a little thing, aren't you?
Yeah, you're thirsty. All right.
'Feeding time at the Baker Zoo!'
Wow! It's hungry.
That's it, sweetheart. Good girl.
Well, thankfully, the Schmallenberg virus hasn't reached our farm
but what's being done to stop this deadly virus from spreading
and, better still, stamp it out altogether?
John has been to investigate.
You may find some of the images in this report upsetting.
'It struck without warning,
'an unknown disease, brought in silently on the wind,
'and now farmers are counting the cost.'
'Latest figures show 235 farms have now been infected.
'But help is at hand.' Scientists are working flat-out
to unlock the mysteries of the Schmallenberg virus
and hopefully bring it under control.
It's a totally new livestock disease, and these are the prime suspects -
midges carrying the virus with them as they are
blown across the Channel from infected areas in northern Europe.
'This is what the virus looks like. A simple enough life form.
'But it's proving to be a real challenge
'for scientists at the Institute for Animal Health.'
From our point of view it's a new virus.
It's been somewhere else previously,
but this is the first time this virus has been identified,
and it's not the same as any other virus
that we've previously known about.
And it's being spread by this, you think? Midges?
Culicoides midges, yes.
What we don't know about this virus is
whether there's an alternative route to insect transmission.
Examples would be oral, faecal, or contact,
or aerosol as prime candidates.
And those are exactly the areas that we're looking at right now.
'Discovering whether there is any other means of transmission,
'such as aerosol - that's being coughed from animal to animal -
'will be vital in solving this mystery.'
And how viable would a vaccine be?
Vaccines, I think, would be entirely possible,
but you then have to make absolutely certain that it is safe,
because you can't go spreading things around
and causing even bigger problems, and that it's effective.
The testing system and the safeguards that are necessary
for vaccines could take as much as two years to get in place.
'With a vaccine so far off, it's down to farmers to stay vigilant.
'Here on this Northamptonshire farm, Pat and Trevor Foss
'are keeping an eye on every new arrival.
'But are farmers like them getting the support they need?'
-This one has had triplets.
-Nice set of triplets here, yes.
Good strong lambs, aren't they?
-So far so good, yeah.
-What happens should the worst occur?
Well, in theory, I should
get in the car and take it 50 miles
to the nearest centre to have it tested.
But with just the two of us on the farm,
that's a two-hour minimum drive,
I don't think I shall be doing that unless I have several lambs.
I shall certainly ring the vet and tell him
and it's important everybody does that.
Do you think, though, because it would involve such a long journey,
a lot of cases might not go reported?
Well, they won't, I'm sure they won't.
I mean, I think the message is, everyone rings their vet
and tells the vet and hopefully the vets will do it.
'As we've heard, it's not a notifiable disease.
'There's no legal requirement for farmers to report it but they do.
'Diseased animals are being taken to laboratories for testing.
'But there are concerns about cutbacks to government research,
'and even talk of some animal health labs closing.'
Around the country there are
several regional laboratories which have post-mortem facilities,
and alongside those, some very specific laboratory facilities.
I think we really have to question whether shutting laboratories,
or certainly post-mortem facilities,
would be a sensible way forward in the future.
Trevor has just told me that, should he get a case amongst his lambs,
it's going to be 50 or 60 miles for him to take it for examination.
Many farmers might not bother doing that.
That is one of the problems. We need to encourage farmers
to report this disease and any other disease,
and indeed any new disease should it come along in the future.
We have to have availability to these facilities to make sure
we have a good, robust surveillance system in the country.
'The question is, will these proposed cuts
'threaten the UK's ability to deal with Schmallenberg?'
Our ability to respond now has been very good and we've used...
Most of the scientific effort has got to be done
in a central laboratory but we also need a regional presence.
We also need that contact with farmers and their vets.
And as we look to make best use of the money we have,
we're looking at that model and how it would best work.
Because I've heard that maybe up to eight of these centres would close.
Centres that allow vets and farmers
to contact the surveillance system is a different thing
to where you do your rather more sophisticated testing.
We haven't made any decisions on that yet,
and we need to look at it carefully.
There are pockets of the country that are currently not well served
and we can do that better, I think.
'The number of infected farms is still very small,
'and there's said to be no threat to human health.
'But after bluetongue and now Schmallenberg, should we be concerned
'that new diseases keep appearing?'
We have the insects that transmit these viruses.
We have susceptible animal populations and the door is open.
Clearly other viruses could come through.
Both viruses that affect animals
but also those that affect animals and humans
and there's a large number of them
that represent real risks to Europe and to the UK.
So we really have to be on guard
and be prepared for what's going to happen next.
'Right now, West Sussex farmer Clement Somerset
'is living with Schmallenberg.
'It could be in his cattle. It has been in his sheep.
'He lost a quarter of his lambs earlier in the season
'but is hoping that's the end of it. Until a lamb is born,
'there's no way of knowing it's OK.'
-So this is the most anxious time this year, isn't it?
We just find that...
We just want to check that everything on these ewes
-is all right, rather than just leave them to get on with it.
-Here it comes.
-There it is.
That's what spring should be about.
'The next few months will be make or break for farmers like Clement.
'No-one's really sure what the disease will do next.
'The scientists think it may just burn out. The government says
'we're in a good position to deal with future outbreaks.
'All farmers can do is pray.'
'Back on my farm, I've got my work cut out with our new addition
'to the family, seven-month-old black lab puppy Annie.
'She loves to play but it's time to knuckle down to some training.'
Right then, Annie, it's time to concentrate.
This is actually Annie's first time in this field.
What I'm aiming for is to try and get her attention,
which obviously, she's kind of just doing her own thing at the moment,
but we're going to work with a little bit of heel work,
and then the idea is that if I can't control her on the lead,
I've no chance of controlling her when she's off it.
So... Come on, then. Good girl, good girl!
There now, good girl.
Annie, head up. Sit.
But...we'll try another little trick here
and loop that lead around there
so she still thinks I've got some contact.
Annie, heel. Good girl.
Sit. Good girl. Just drop the lead, but she doesn't know it.
Good girl. Good girl.
'She's picking this up brilliantly, so while we carry on,
'here's what else is coming up on Countryfile.
'Adam's put through his paces by some feral goats.'
We're a bit weak up here.
If we can get in a line and shuffle this way a bit, that's it.
Julia meets the wild swimmers enjoying a rather chilly river.
And is it true, do you wee to keep yourself warm?
We definitely wee to keep ourselves warm.
'And there's the Countryfile five-day forecast.'
Sit. Sit. Seek!
Good girl. Good girl. Annie, Annie!
What a good girl. Right to me. I'm absolutely over the moon, Annie.
I really am.
So while I'm feeling very at home here in County Durham,
as is Annie, Helen is across the border
meeting a lady who's made her home in Northumberland.
The rugged north-east. It's no stranger to dramatic landmarks.
This region is defined by vast man-made projects.
The Angel of the North.
And there's soon to be another.
I'm on a construction site just north of Newcastle.
I'm here for a preview of a new landmark
and it's just on the other side of these trees.
'You move through a wood which is very dark
'and very calm, very silent. And as you walk forward,
'slowly you begin to see
'that there's a face at the end of the walk.'
'It's the brainchild of internationally renowned
'landscape artist Charles Jencks.'
'If you ask me what the art of landforming is, I have to say,
'it's to do with the sun hitting the side of these pathways,
'creating wonderful shadows, and then all of a sudden the landform'
comes to life. You really feel it in your stomach.
Northumberlandia, as she's been called,
is the world's largest human landform.
It's a piece of art and a playground.
You probably can't tell from here but she is definitely a she...
..because I'm currently standing on her right boob.
And then, finally, you head for the forehead itself.
From there you get a full view of her face,
the goal of the walk,
and the rest of her body all the way to her feet.
And at this point, you get a 360-degree panorama
of the whole landscape -
north, south, east, west, the cardinal points,
looking straight up, the cosmos,
and the connection to the Earth.
But when you're up here, there's another, quite different view.
It's been mined in this area for 800 years,
and it's because of this surface mine that Northumberlandia is here.
Katie, this place is unbelievable! What is it even made of?
Well, Northumberlandia has been made
from material from the Shotton surface mine.
It's a core of rock, covered by a layer of clay,
and a layer of soil over the top.
-So everything's come out of the mine?
All the core materials come out of the mine.
And what made you think
you were going to turn all of that material
into an undeniably voluptuous women?
Well, the Banks Group and the Blagdon Estate,
who are the landowners that Northumberlandia sits on,
wanted to do something
that was really going to be iconic for the North-east
and attract tourists.
So we worked with the artist Charles Jencks
and he's come up with what we see today!
But how to turn an artist's vision into a practical reality?
Well, that job fell to landscape architect Mark Simmons.
Mark, I'm guessing you're not laying out your dinner.
-What have we got here?
-Well, I've got the computer model...
Looking at it like this, you can really appreciate that it is art.
-You can see the whole thing.
-And so where are we? If that's the nose...
-We must be...
-We're just here. Just next to the wrist.
-So the hand?
-That's the hand.
-The paths almost make, like, veins, make her more alive.
They are developed as an intrinsic part of the landform itself,
so they step up, they create the steps
and bring the body actually out of the surrounding landscape.
I really like the idea of a figurative model,
because the scale of it, it wouldn't be figurative the whole time.
It becomes abstract when you're actually walking on it.
Because you don't know what you're walking on, do you,
-when you're up there?
It's just a series of different interlocking curves and shapes
that change as you move round it and the light moves over it.
Which is just fantastic. And when you move back, it just clicks into place.
When you build a sandcastle,
it almost feels impossible to keep the turrets upright.
How do you know that you'll be able to build the nose
-and make it stay that pointy?
-Well, on the actual face itself,
we've actually used a reinforcing material called a geogrid,
which is a plastic mesh,
and then the material is pushed in behind that
and that's pulled over through the structure,
and that holds it all in place.
So we've been able to get the much steeper slopes
on the side of the face.
'Wet winters aren't the time for delicate finishing work
'so for the last few months, the site has been silent.
'But Mark is letting me leave my mark on the palm of her left hand.'
Mark, I'm hoping you've had something bigger than these
-to do the hips and the head.
-Yes, just slightly.
Her right hand points and, like everything in Jencks's work,
-it's laden with meaning.
-When you point at something,
it says look there, go there, what's that?
It has a command meaning.
And I wanted the pointed finger to be used in that way,
to suggest there's a point to the whole walk.
The other hand is open
and that's a great sign of peace and welcome,
and giving and receiving.
Like many of our most infamous artworks,
Northumberlandia has caused plenty of discussion.
Some people have affectionately nicknamed her Slag Alice,
others have been asking,
when are they going to build NorthumberMANdia?
But what about the people living on her doorstep?
'Well, there's no-one more local than the Philipson family,
'whose farmhouse sits in the middle of the mining area.
'How will they feel when Northumberlandia opens later this year?'
-Fabulous. She's great.
-Yeah. Really excited.
Lovely attraction, hopefully great for the local community,
great views, and it's just an amazing sculpture.
-We can't wait to actually have a walk on it.
I had a sneaky preview, didn't I?
'And I'm about to get another.'
I'm embarrassed to admit, this is my lift. This is so showbiz!
She is unbelievable!
I don't know how they've got it that defined and that immaculate.
'All landforms gain by movement,
'seeing things in relationship to each other.
'You'll get that dynamic quality.
'So exciting, because the drama unfolds.
'Movement is absolutely key.'
One thing it definitely is is impressive.
'The sun comes out, it sings, it's just beautiful.
'It's surprising. It surprises me.'
'Spring's a really hectic time of year down on the farm,
'and Adam's goats are top priority.
'It's the new arrivals that are keeping him busy.'
'The farm is starting to buzz with new life,
'so we need to make extra checks on the animals.
'We've had Highland calves born out in the field...'
'..and Irish Moiled calves born in the barns.'
'Baby chicks are starting to hatch.'
'And lambing and kidding is in full swing, so my barns are bursting.'
'It's all go at the moment. When a newborn is on its way,
'we need to be on hand to make sure everything is running smoothly.'
This nanny is well on with kidding - you can see the kid's two front feet
coming out, and the nose coming in a correct position.
And she's trying desperately to push
but obviously in a lot of pain.
They try and do it as quietly as possible,
because a nanny or a ewe
that's kidding or giving birth is in a very vulnerable position,
and doesn't want to attract attention to themselves.
It's nearly there. I'll just give it the last final bit.
Here it comes.
There we are.
There you go. There he is, look!
Just clear the mucus away from its nose and mouth,
where it's going to start breathing.
The umbilical cord here is where it gets all its oxygen and food
when it's inside the nanny, that just breaks naturally. There you go.
You jump up and come and give it a lick. I'll just get her up.
There you go.
Your new baby!
She'll want to start to lick it dry.
There's no hot towels here, and it's born wet and warm,
and she needs to dry it out as quickly as possible
so that it doesn't get hypothermia.
'It's a big day for my goats.
'After five long winter months in the barn,
'today they are getting turned out into the field.'
Right then, ladies.
These goats have been indoors since November,
and now they've kidded I can turn them out onto this lovely grass.
Goats do eat grass, a bit like sheep,
but they prefer brambles and bushes and that sort of thing.
Come on, then!
So it's the first time for their little kids to be out.
It must be really lovely for these nannies.
They've been shut indoors all winter
and when you turn them out onto this fresh spring grass,
they put their heads down and start grazing straight away.
The nannies are wonderful mothers.
They are all worried about their little kids
and they're following them around and keeping an eye on them.
'Not all goats need this care for their survival.
'Some goats are perfectly adapted to living on their own.'
I'm heading to the Valley of the Rocks, on the North Devon coast,
where there's a herd of feral goats that live on the cliff faces there.
And twice a year, a group of very willing volunteers round them up
to give them a health check.
So I'm joining in to give them a hand,
and hopefully learn a thing or two about feral goats.
But there's one thing for sure - it's going to be no easy task.
'I'm meeting farmer Elizabeth Rodway.
'She owns the grazing rights in this valley
'and will be overseeing the goat herding.
'There's about 65 of them to catch.'
-Lovely to see you. What an amazing spot!
It's quite spectacular.
It's very unusual to have a valley that runs parallel to the sea
-instead of out to the sea.
-Now what about these goats?
What's it like for them living out here?
It can be tough if the weather is bad, but they've freedom,
they've got plenty to eat.
And how long have they been living in the Valley of the Rocks?
It goes back to Domesday times,
but I think in Domesday times it was more sort of people owned them
and brought them out to graze because it was common land.
It's incredible, the conditions they live in here.
I mean, I can see them jumping around on the rocks down there.
Like little limpets!
-It's incredible they don't fall to their death, isn't it?
-Yeah, I know.
And tomorrow we've got to catch them. How's that going to work?
Well, we've got to be out here at first light, six o'clock.
It's quite a tricky area. It's quite a big area, too, isn't it?
-About 277 acres.
-Yes. All up and down.
Well, I'll see you in the morning, then. What time did you say?
-About half past eight?
-No, six o'clock sharp!
Well, I got my head down in a B&B just up the road
from the Valley of the Rocks. There's nothing like an early start.
It's 5.30 in the morning, the sun is still not up,
let's go and catch some goats.
'As the sun rises over the valley, the goats start to wake,
'and the team of committed goat herders
'appear from out of the dark.'
There's a bunch of billy goats that are living down here,
they've been raiding the neighbour's garden.
The billies are separate to the nannies at this time of year,
when they're giving birth -
they go off on their own in a little herd.
And the guys who are rounding them up have gone down the valley
to try and circle round the back of the billy goats
but the billy goats have spotted them,
jumped over the wall,
and gone straight up the mountain like mountain goats do.
And it doesn't bode well for the first part of the mission -
we've failed already!
'The purpose of the roundup is to bring them down the valley
'and contain them in pens, so vets can check their well-being.
'With 30 willing volunteers, it should be easy.
'In theory, at least.'
-What went wrong?
-They got away.
Co-ordination, just co-ordination didn't go.
You young boys could run, why don't you just run?
We were waiting there!
We said to them and they were like, "Nah."
-So it's the managers, you're blaming the managers?
It's a blame society.
OK, guys, we're going to try and bring them up from the bottom.
So if you split in two and space out either side, down to the roundabout.
And how are we going to get round them, then?
Well, hopefully, we can put some out on the bottom
but, normally, they'll go down over the cliff if we're not careful.
So we end up losing 'em.
The search is on.
We spread out looking for the goats,
covering as much terrain as we can.
The goats make easy work of this. I'm certainly no mountain goat!
Oh, they've got some. There's about seven down there.
Not sure where the other 60 or so are but it's a good start.
And the whole team is closing in from the sides and up the back,
trying to drive them up the road,
into the corral.
-Now, then, Elizabeth, how's it going?
The trouble is, if you foul it up in the beginning you're stuck, really.
And then our luck changes and the billies are spotted.
For some time, I'm on my own,
desperately waiting for more helpers to close the gap.
We're a bit weak up here.
If we can get in a line and shuffle this way a bit...that's it.
Right, everybody, squeeze in together. Everyone in together.
CHEERS AND APPLAUSE
Oh, it's absolutely brilliant! We've got, what, nine billies now.
There's another bunch of nannies down the bottom
that we're going to run round and try and get too.
So we're getting there, slowly.
While the team of herders bring the nannies down the mountain,
a stray goat is spotted in a tricky location on the cliff edge.
And the goat is just giving them the run around.
She doesn't want to come off that ledge. There we are. I know why now.
I can see a little kid.
She's got a young kid up there. She doesn't want to leave it.
'Finally, one of the team manages to catch the goat kid,
'using it as a lure to entice the nanny towards the pens.'
You need to...put it down low!
She doesn't think it can jump up in the air.
He obviously doesn't know anything about livestock.
He picked the kid up, protected it, put it in his jacket,
and the nanny didn't know where it was and nearly bolted up the rocks.
She's moving slowly. It might be one more in the pen
if we can get her all the way to the top.
That's it. We'll just walk her up with it now.
We've got most of the goats down now,
so it's time for the vet to give them the once over.
-What's it going to have?
-Wormer, first of all.
-For internal parasites?
-There, little one.
A little bit of antibiotics.
Little bit of antibiotics
cos where they've got ticks, we don't know if the ticks have Lyme disease
and tick pyemia and things like that.
-So he'll probably kick and wriggle a bit.
-OK. I've got him.
'And because he's not been caught before, he has to be tagged
'so his health can be monitored in the future.'
-There we go. They make a lot of fuss, goats.
-New ear tags as well.
He may go.
'That little one was easy to handle, unlike the larger billy goats.'
Steady, boys. Steady, steady.
This is one big old billy.
'And when it calmed down,
'the billy got the same treatment as all the rest.'
He's a big boy!
-Off you go!
Once the vet has done her job, it's time to let them go.
Well, it's been a great experience for me.
Managing my goats at home is a piece of cake in comparison to this lot!
And, hopefully, now they're being carefully managed here,
they'll have a healthy, happy life here in the Valley of the Rocks.
Next week, I'll be back on the farm,
tending to a new litter of Kunekune piglets.
Down on my family's farm,
there are more than just the lambs that are keeping us busy.
One fellow that I'm always happy to see when I come back is Beano.
He's an absolute cracker.
He's 21 years old, this Shetland pony,
and he still bounces around like he's about three!
Look at his mane! I keep telling me mum to cut it but she won't listen.
It's a beauty.
Keeps you warm up here, though, doesn't it, in the Dales?
Beano's well-suited to this land, 1,000ft above sea level,
but his new stable mates are a bit more delicate.
Another of the four-legged varieties that we have here on the farm
are these miniature donkeys - Mum's pride and joy at the moment!
They certainly are, yes. Very excited about them.
-Introduce the nation to these three, Mum.
That's Sophia, walking forward in the blue head collar.
This is Augustine, her daughter, who was born in August - hence the name.
And that's Winifred at the back, there.
Interesting thing is, their coats aren't waterproof,
so we're going to let them out.
Do you think it's going to rain in half an hour or so?
-Let them stretch their legs a bit.
-Yes. That's a good idea.
-They can always run back into here if it rains.
'Before settling on our farm, these donkeys have had a travelling past.
'They were born in America and Mum bought them from the Isle of Man.'
Look at them go! Donkey derby! Brilliant!
'And next spring we hope to multiply this miniature herd.'
Brilliant turn of pace on them!
While they're enjoying a dry spell,
let's see what the weather has in store with the Countryfile forecast.
Along with Matt, I've been exploring his home county of Durham.
Running through the heart of County Durham is the River Wear.
It meanders for 60 miles through this beautiful countryside
and slices through the cities of Durham and Sunderland
before flowing out into the North Sea.
For decades, the River Wear played a pivotal role
in Britain's industrial expansion in this area but it paid a price.
The river became heavily contaminated with industrial waste.
So much so that it was classified as a dead river.
Nothing was alive in here but that's all in the past.
Now it's in the Environment Agency's top ten of most-improved rivers.
And, believe it or not,
what I'm doing is going to help to prove that.
What's this called, Steve, our little dance that we're doing?
Well, Julia, this technique is called a kick sample.
The reason why we're shuffling around in the river
is we're collecting invertebrate samples and this will give us
a good indication of water quality in this stretch.
Right. How long have we to do it?
We do it for three minutes, sadly.
So you've got to have really good leg muscles to do a good job.
-Right, then, let's see what we've got.
-What's good news in here?
Basically, we're looking for indicator species.
If they're present in a particular stretch,
then it basically means that you've got good water quality.
Show me round your tank.
-Right, let's see what we've got.
-What's that one?
That is a cased caddis fly.
These guys are really clever
because they actually build their own cases around their body.
They actually secrete silk from their salivary glands
and stick different substrates together
-to create houses for themselves.
They're a very juicy source of protein for fish.
These guys are at the bottom of the food chain
and without these you will not have a healthy fish population.
We have small critters here. We've got swimming mayfly.
-You can always tell the mayflies. They have three tails.
You can see the gill structures on the side of his abdomen there.
They flap to increase the water circulation around their bodies.
That's what makes them sensitive to pollution
because their gills are so sensitive
that they'll move on straight away -
as soon as they sense an increase in pollutant in the water.
Are you a happy man? Pleased?
I'm chuffed to bits with this water quality sample.
We're definitely going in the right direction.
The ecosystem's going to benefit greatly, I think.
-So you'll be river dancing for a few years yet?
-Definitely. I hope so!
Along with invertebrates, another indicator of a clean
and healthy river is the number of fish that flourish in it.
The Wear is now one of our top rivers to catch salmon and trout.
Those fish can be caught right here, near the centre of Durham.
Lots of people are enjoying the river now
and the anglers are not alone in their pursuit of the fish
that are now thriving in the river.
There's a new threat. Luckily, help is at hand. Thank you!
And hopefully this device will provide the solution.
-What's the problem, then, Paul?
-Well, with the river
being cleaner than it has been in 20 years, we've an abundance of fish
but with an abundance of fish we've an abundance of predators.
The predator on this river is a bird called a cormorant.
It's a very efficient hunter,
a coastal bird that's come inland
and can now find rich pickings in the river,
where the coarse fish have never been exposed to this predator before.
It's having a field day.
How on earth does this contraption help, then?
-We build an underwater reef with these.
The fish can get in them but cormorants can't.
-So that makes the cormorants go elsewhere.
-Just chuck it in?
Yes, just chuck it in.
Right, so the fish can hide under there
and the cormorants hopefully get bored looking
cos they're secreted fairly well
and hopefully they head back to the coast and the fish survive.
So it seems that the river is flourishing again.
The invertebrates are back - the fish, the frogs, the toads -
all sorts of wildlife.
Now I'm going to introduce you to a truly unique species
also enjoying the river once again.
Meet the wild swimmers.
This bunch are true adrenaline junkies
and they get their thrills from thrashing around in rivers.
Now, I don't want you to get cold - or colder -
what temperature are we talking about now?
It's currently about nine degrees.
Nine degrees! Try and describe that cold to me.
Er...if you can imagine putting your hand in a bucket of ice,
hold it in for as long as you can,
you probably won't manage three minutes if you're not acclimatised.
So how long can you stay in there safely, then?
General rule of thumb is that if it's under ten degrees,
you make it a minute per degree
but because we're acclimatised to it and we swim all year round,
we'll probably manage between 30-45 minutes.
What are the dangers - the real dos and don'ts?
Don't get in by yourself. You go with a group, a friend.
All of us have been training for years.
We train together and we swim socially.
We would never jump in because we don't know what's underneath - trees, rocks, debris.
It's an extreme sport for a reason, because of the temperatures.
If you're not acclimatised to it you could find yourself in danger.
-And how clean is the water and how can you tell?
-We can see the bottom.
One of the beauties is we can swim with wildlife.
We see what's around so we know the rivers are getting clean.
-And do you wee to keep warm?
-We definitely wee to keep warm!
There you go. I knew it! It's not just a vicious rumour.
Another vicious rumour was that I was going to get in and have a go.
Ha! I'll wait until Countryfile goes somewhere hotter...
like the Caribbean.
Well, that's it for this week's Countryfile.
Next week, Matt and Ellie are in the Brecon Beacons.
Matt's celebrating the 200th anniversary of the canal network
with some special beer
and Ellie's getting physical on manoeuvres with the Army.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd 2012
Countryfile is in County Durham. Matt Baker visits the family farm, where his children give him a hand with lambing. Julia Bradbury learns more about an adder project on the moors, and she discovers why the River Wear has been named as one of the 10 most improved rivers for cleanliness in the country.
Helen Skelton gets up close to a naked reclining lady over the border in Northumberland as she looks at a new landscape sculpture from artist Charles Jencks. John Craven investigates the devastating new virus to hit the countryside, Schmallenberg. And Adam is on his farm, where his kunekune sow has just given birth.