Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury explore North Kent. It may be known as the Garden of England, but Julia discovers there is more to this place than its apples and pears.
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North Kent, a diverse landscape of rolling hills, winding rivers,
ancient woodland and traditional orchards.
Kent may be known as the Garden of England,
but there's more to this place than apples and pears.
Savvy food producers are discovering
there's a taste for all sorts around here.
'While Julia's sampling Kent's slimy delights,
'I'm tackling a skill that's well rooted in this landscape.'
This county is famed for its fruit and veg,
but its woodlands are a rich resource too
and I'm getting stuck in with the people
who find ways to make the trees pay.
How is that one, Gary?
Not bad, another 500 more to do.
'And whilst I'm busy in Kent,
'John's got some questions for you.'
Why is this cow wearing a breathalyser?
And why is this home-grown tomato
more damaging to our environment than this banana?
all will be revealed when I investigate
the way that our food is affecting climate change.
'And Adam's thoughts are turning to this year's crops.'
Fertiliser spreading is one of the first major jobs
in arable farming, and the conditions have got to be right
for the spreader to work properly.
We've got the whole farm to get across, so the race is on.
They call it the Garden of England, a rich and fertile land.
North Kent's in the far south-east of the country,
it's a landscape dominated by the beauty of the Kent Downs.
It's not all fruit and veg, this landscape has all sorts of secrets.
Like these stunning, isn't it?
This is a shining ram's horn snail.
Very, very rare and, as you can see, very, very small.
The shining ram's horn absolutely loves these reclaimed marshes.
'They're a nationally endangered species.
'Numbers here are uncertain,
'so the Kent Wildlife Trust are on the lookout.'
Right, let me try and make my way down to you
without falling in, which should be spectacular.
How do you know that there are shining ram's horn in here?
Well, we had historic records from this site in particular.
Whilst we were here, we saw a number of ditches that looked good habitat
for the snails, so well vegetated.
We thought we'd have a little nose around in those. A little explore.
We were so encouraged to find
that we actually did find shining ram's horn snails.
Excellent. Right, let's go and see what we've got.
'A warm day like this means the snails should be more active.
'Hopefully we'll have some in our nets.'
-Now, they are rare. How rare are we talking?
They were, we think, widespread over lowland England at some point
in the past, but now they're very restricted to just a few locations.
-Why is that?
-Pollution, overenthusiastic ditch management
and possibly lowering of water tables.
-So loss of habitat.
'They're tiny, but once you get your eye in, bingo.'
They're quite distinguishable from other snails
because they've got this lens shape of their shell
and also - you might need a hand lens -
they've got these internal thickenings inside their shell
and they show through as little spokes.
-They are very beautiful.
-They really are.
Really, how important can that be?
Well, it's found here on a tiny little area of Yorkshire
on a tiny area of Somerset level, so I would say that alone
speaks for itself in terms of national distribution.
Once we understand more of the ecology of these things,
we'll have a better sense of the role that they play in promoting
and making us realise what a good habitat this is
and how it should be managed.
-So rock on, the shining ram's horn.
What's good for the shining ram's horn is good for other wildlife.
Manage the habitat for them, and everything else benefits.
Kent and snails go together like fish and chips.
Back in the day, pilgrims would carry pocketfuls
of snails around to snack on. A slow fast food, if you get my drift.
These days, they've fallen out of favour, but down
this sleepy suburban street, all that could be about to change.
I haven't forgotten what programme I'm on, this isn't a property show,
but for one moment I would like you
to take in this delightfully suburban scene.
Look at this compact terraced house, number 18.
You wouldn't believe what goes on behind that door.
Snails is what's going on.
Thousands of them. All under one roof.
How much of the house has this passion, hobby, taken over?
-Just the spare bedroom.
-And this is it?
-Yes, this is it.
-Right, you breed snails in here?
-I do. Yes.
There are 5,000 of the critters in here.
All fattening up in these plastic tubs.
Helen sells the mail-order,
or "snail"-order. Business is on the up.
-It's quite unusual, Helen.
How did you end up being a snail breeder in your home?
My daughter and I looked around for an agricultural activity
that didn't require a lot of space,
and snails have a lot to recommend them as farm animals.
-You don't have to chase them around with a dog.
And they don't take up much space.
Are these all the same kind of snail?
Yes, they're the same species as the common garden snail.
So anybody could go outside and pluck up a garden snail?
They could do as long as you're sure what they've been eating.
There's quite a demand for them.
The chefs who buy from me
and the enthusiastic cooks are looking for fresh local food.
They don't want imported food, they don't want their snails in tins.
'If the thought of eating them is off-putting,
'you should see what they eat.
'This is a mix of chalk and milk powder. Snail ambrosia.
'Great for building their shells.'
I have a confession. I've eaten snails before
and I'm not a huge fan, but I'm going to take one for the team
and give it one more bash.
It's not looking that tasty now.
'Helping me learn to love snails all over again is foodie Helen Parkin.
'She's on a mission to put them back on the map.
'And there's something special on the menu.'
-A snail pizza.
-A snail pizza? Brilliant(!)
'OK, there's some cheese, some ham, all the usual pizza goodies
'and there are snails too.
'They are packed with protein and they're a bit like mushrooms.'
-Look, it's snail shaped!
-You're a natural, Delia.
'Garnish with a bit of kale and onion.'
When people come round for dinner, have you given them a snail pizza?
No, I haven't, but that's the next thing
-I must do, obviously.
Plenty of that.
-In it goes for between about 10 and 15 minutes.
-Must be ready now.
-Right, let's have a look.
Oh, wow, look at that. Look at that.
That's a handsome pizza.
Raymond, Gordon, Albert would all be proud of a pizza like that.
You can't really taste the snail.
It's lovely, but there's no overwhelming power.
The combination of flavours are delicious.
-The snail isn't too slimy, she said.
Now, whether or not you're eating a snail-topped pizza at home
or a three course meal, every bit of food you eat
has an impact on the environment, so which foodstuffs are the worst?
John has been investigating.
That was a good one.
Our climate is changing
and the way we choose to live our lives is having a hand in that.
We all know that when we travel by car,
we're contributing to climate change, but what about the food that we eat?
Do we ever consider what impact that's having?
Take this pint of milk.
Its carbon footprint is the same as travelling a mile by car.
And producing these carrots creates the same emissions
as a two mile journey by train.
This week is climate week and during it, we're being challenged
to think about the food that we eat, with good reason.
As far as our own carbon footprints are concerned,
the food that we eat has just about the same impact as the energy that we
use in our homes and a bigger impact than the fuel we burn in our cars.
A carbon footprint is a measure of the amount of greenhouse gases which
are released into the atmosphere during the life of the product,
but do any of us think about this or even care
when we're choosing our food?
-Can you get me a cauliflower?
-No, that's broccoli.
The Hopper family, like most of us, do a big weekly shop
and they like to think they do their bit for the environment.
When I go shopping, I'm always trying to make sure that
there's not too much packaging or unnecessary packaging.
At home, when I'm unpacking, I make sure that we recycle what we can.
Do you ever think about the carbon footprints
-of the food that you're buying?
-Never. No, no.
Maybe you should.
Now you've mentioned it, I'm already thinking about it, yeah.
If we're going to think about it, where do we start?
Take this leg of lamb. Its carbon footprint is 38 kilos.
That's 38 kilos of greenhouse gas emissions.
That's made of all sorts of things,
from the methane produced by the sheep
to the gas released in the making of the plastic wrapping
to the fuel that's needed to get it to the shop.
But how are customers expected to know all this?
Well, there are some simple rules.
We've enlisted the help of carbon footprint consultant,
Mike Berners-Lee, to give the Hoppers the low-down on their weekly shop.
Here's some raspberries from Morocco, tomatoes from Spain,
asparagus from Peru, some grapes from South Africa,
some bananas from Columbia.
So out of all this lot,
which do you think has the highest carbon footprint?
I would say the bananas from Colombia.
-Or maybe the grapes from South Africa.
-Why are you saying that?
Just the distance, really. That's about all.
-Which do you think?
-I say the asparagus.
You're spot on. My money would be on the asparagus as well.
This asparagus will have gone straight onto an aeroplane
and flown all the way from Peru to the UK.
They can't put it on the boat because it doesn't keep long enough.
It's a short shelf life product, so the only way to get it
to the UK in good condition is to put it on an aeroplane,
which is sadly a carbon disaster.
So which of all those things has the least effect?
The good news is that these bananas, although they've come from
a long way away, have got a lovely thick skin to them and keep
really well, so they keep
long enough that you can put them on a boat. A boat is about 100 times
less impactful than putting it on an aeroplane.
The footprint of transporting them to the UK isn't too bad,
so these are really nutritious, low carbon fruit.
-Mum and Dad, you were both wrong.
-Absolutely. We usually are.
But you still had to use fuel in the boat?
Yeah, you've had to use some fuel
and there is a carbon footprint associated with shipping them,
but on the other hand, those bananas have been able to be grown
in a fabulous sunny climate where that sunshine is for free.
The carbon footprint
you incur by putting them on a boat is worth it.
All I'm thinking is,
you don't know whether they've come on a boat or a plane.
How do you know?
A simple rule of thumb for all fruit and veg out of season,
if it's got a really nice solid skin on it
and it's going to keep for a long time
like an orange or a banana or a melon,
that can be taken from anywhere you like in the world.
But what about these local tomatoes?
Actually, their footprint is bigger than much of the foreign produce.
To give you an idea of how high-carbon tomatoes can be
at their very worst, if you get a very low yield variety
like a cherry tomato and grow it on the vine,
which is the most carbon intensive way of growing it,
and you do it in the UK right out of season
through the middle of winter, you might get up to 50 kilograms
of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions for just one kilogram.
That's a bit more than your body weight in emissions.
And here's why. It's all about the way out of season
fruit and veg are produced.
Every year, 80 million tomatoes are grown
in this huge glasshouse in the Vale of Evesham.
Obviously, if you're going to produce any kind of fruit or vegetable
in artificial surroundings, it's going to take an awful lot of energy
for heating the place, pumping through the water, things like that.
In turn, that creates an awful lot of greenhouse gas emissions.
It's a problem that growers like Roly Holt are taking very seriously.
His family firm has greatly increased its output over the last 25 years,
while managing to halve its energy use.
-But don't you need to do even more?
-Yes, we do.
We've got planning permission to build an anaerobic digester.
The beauty about this scheme is, we can use all
the vegetable pasteurised green waste from the local farm,
all our green waste produced in this glasshouse, all the old plants,
all the leaf material, we can put it into a big digester,
by which the by-products are bio-methane.
We can use the bio-methane to heat the glasshouse.
We can then be sustainable on electricity,
use all the electricity produced,
plus the surplus electricity, we can sell back to the National Grid.
-Will you be zero carbon then?
-We'll be completely carbon zero,
-carbon neutral in fact.
It's not just our fruit and veg that pose a dilemma, though.
Many other foods with the highest footprints are home-produced.
Here's a fascinating fact.
If you drink three of these lattes every day for a whole year,
that will have the same environmental impact
as an airline passenger flying from London to Madrid,
and we'll be finding out why in a few minutes' time.
The Kent Downs - a chalky escarpment
littered with ancient woodlands and traditional orchards.
20% of the Kent Downs are wooded,
which means that trees are a really valuable resource.
But around here, you can't see the trees for the wood.
Such a vast amount of woodland
in an area of outstanding natural beauty
needs to be carefully managed. On this estate, they're coppiced -
that's a fancy word for farming woodland.
John Leigh-Pemberton has around 800 acres of sweet chestnut trees
that are used to make fences,
or pales as they're known in the business.
Once every 14 years,
each piece of woodland is cut and it then regrows again.
How does this affect the life of the stock?
The stock itself, the bit of the tree that's left in the ground,
sort of thinks that it's still only 14,
and so, actually, they're almost immortal.
This cycle goes on and on and on and it's been going on here
probably, judging by the size of some of these stocks,
600 or 700 years, probably even longer, actually.
So this was then chopped off at the end of last year.
When are those due to come down?
They are 12 years old, so in two years time,
all of this wood will be cut in exactly the same way
and actually it will look, in two years' time,
exactly like that over there and so it goes. The rotation goes on.
Yeah, and the trick is long, straight poles.
What I need for my business is long, straight poles,
so we try and keep as many stocks as possible close together
because that forces the wood up and this nice, straight wood
is exactly what we can use to make pales and posts out of.
Once cut, the coppiced logs end up at John's wood yard.
This is the raw material as it comes in.
The first thing that happens is that it's lengthed up.
We take out the knots, the bent bits of wood,
to suit the nature of the wood.
The next stage in the process is that the bark is taken off
and that is ready now to go into the shed to be made into pales.
Gary here is going to show us how it's turned into fencing
and it's all done by hand, which, Gary, when you look behind
at the amount that you've produced, the mind boggles.
It's all made by hand. That's the only way to do it.
-Show us the tools, the tools of the trade.
-This is called a dull axe,
that actually cleaves the wood.
So knock this into the wood.
-That opens the wood up to make your stakes.
-So dull axe in, upside down.
That's right. That's it. A little bit of leverage.
-Is that all right?
-A little bit more.
Am I going to make it? Oh, just!
Look at that end and then that end. Anyway, it's there.
-Is that going to go on the rubbish pile?
-That will. Rubbish pile.
-That one can go on the massive pile.
Gary and the boys can get through 250 to 300 logs an hour.
Each individual section
is hand-placed into a wiring machine that holds it all together.
The only waste product from the whole process is the bark,
but I've got an idea that could put it to good use
and it involves these girls.
I'll be testing out my theory later.
Not all the coppiced wood here ends up in a fence.
Some becomes fuel for the fire
because they also produce woodchip and logs for wood burners.
Matthew, from your perspective,
is coppicing woodland a good idea for fuel?
It is. It's very good for both habitats and the landscape.
If it's done on a sustainable footing with a good woodland management plan
behind it, it brings light into the woodland,
it opens the canopy, it creates a much better habitat
for woodland birds, woodland flowers and butterflies,
so it's a very good thing to coppice the woodland.
-Could wood be the new oil?
-For certain uses and applications,
I think woodchip is a really good substitution for oil.
People will make a 50% saving on their fuel bill with woodchip.
It's a very, very attractive proposition these days.
It's a big moment for me, this. My pales are now being wired in
and they're going in like an absolute dream,
and that ten-metre roll of Kent sweet chestnut fencing could end up
anywhere from Devon to Denmark. Happy travels.
Now, earlier we heard about the environmental impact of food
that has to travel from all over the world to get to us.
What about the stuff that comes from closer to home?
That's got to be better, hasn't it? Here's John.
Tomorrow marks the start of Climate Week, and we're being encouraged
to look at the food we eat
-and the carbon footprint it leaves.
-Raspberries from Morocco.
As we've already heard, food from the other side of the world
isn't necessarily any worse than food from here at home.
The latte that I've just been drinking has had the same
environmental impact as a four-mile journey by train,
and it's not just the foreign coffee beans that are responsible,
it's largely the milk.
Cattle spend an awful lot of their time eating, but it's this
simple act which makes the carbon footprint of meat and milk so high,
because the methane they produce while they're digesting
is 25 times more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
-But how many of us actually realise that?
-Here we go.
A pint of milk. Drink a lot of milk in this house?
Yeah, we get through a lot of milk.
What do you think about it in carbon terms?
Well, it'd be fine because we don't fly the milk in,
-we've got our farmers.
-Quite local. But there's going to be a downside.
There is a downside, there's always a catch.
The transport is not too bad, it hasn't come from
the other side of the world or anything like that,
but it does come from cows, and cows and sheep in particular ruminate,
which means they burp up methane
and that's quite a carbon intensive greenhouse gas.
Just as with home-grown fruit, there are ways of bringing down
the carbon footprint of meat and dairy products.
Here at Harper Adams University,
they're looking at ways to reduce the methane from cows.
So what we have here, Liam, is a very strange sight
of a cow wearing a breathalyser.
Yes, that's because we're measuring the methane output from these cows.
I think most people think that methane from a cow
comes from the back end rather than the front end.
There's a popular misconception
that methane is produced from the back, but the majority comes
-from the front.
-Is it possible to actually reduce their methane levels?
We've shown that certainly
by altering the forage, having more nutritious, better quality forages,
that can have a significant effect.
There are other supplements, such as oils, that can be added
that can reduce methane by 20, 30,
up to even 40% of methane production,
so it is possible to have quite significant amounts
of methane reduction and still maintain performance
-or even enhance performance.
-The organisers of Climate Week
are not asking us to cut out meat and dairy,
but they are asking us to cut back, but that's led to concerns about
the impact that could have on our diets, our farmers
and even our landscape.
Ultimately, it's down to us to choose how we balance our own footprints,
but we need help in making that choice.
Supermarket giant Tesco says it aims
to lead the way when it comes to good carbon thinking,
with clearer information for its customers.
So what percentage of the lines that you sell
have these carbon footprint labelling information?
It's still relatively low.
We've carbon footprinted over 1,000 products.
We think that's more than any other retailer has done
and we've put labels over the last three years on over 500 products.
But we've got much further to go
and what we want to do is to use the carbon footprinting process
to help us really understand how to reduce the emissions
associated with those products that we sell
and to help our customers make better choices.
Its sights are high, aiming to cut emissions of its products
by 30% in the next eight years.
Sometimes it can be done by making them lighter.
One thing we've done recently is to lightweight our wine bottles,
so our standard wine bottle now
is about a third lighter than it was several years ago.
That means we're using much less fuel to move that product around
into our distribution centres,
out to stores and out to our customers homes.
Other supermarkets are also looking
at ways of creating smaller footprints.
Back at the Hopper home,
Mike is helping the family rustle up a low carbon meal.
-Excuse me, but what is that?
-That is kale,
which is one of the great discoveries
of seasonal winter vegetables
that lots of people don't know about
and turns out to be really delicious and very low carbon.
We're having chicken because, if you're going to have meat,
chicken is one of the lower carbon meats that you can have,
and potatoes, like other complex carbohydrates,
are also a low carbon way of feeding yourself.
This food comes from the UK, with the potatoes and kale grown in season.
-What do you make of the kale then, May?
-Do you really mean that?
-Of course she means it!
Most chickens don't eat grass till they produce less methane,
and Mike's got one last tip.
The average UK household
wastes an astonishing quarter of all the food that it buys.
I was astonished when I first heard that. If we stopped doing that
and we stopped wasting food completely,
it would be as beneficial for the climate
as halving the emissions from cars in the UK.
It's a simple message - eat the food that you buy.
And don't waste it, don't waste a thing.
No. Tuck in!
Later on tonight's Countryfile -
Adam's rounding up his rams...
Teenage rams - full of testosterone and a bit of temperament.
..Julia's at the dentist with some goats.
That's never a good noise.
..and we'll have the Countryfile weather forecast for the week ahead.
Kent's North Downs Way. A national trail
that takes in the farms and orchards that span the Garden of England.
Weaving its way through an area of outstanding natural beauty,
the trail opened in 1978, but the path is thought to be much older.
The bit I'm interested in is an ancient track way
trodden by people since the Middle Ages,
starting in Winchester and heading to Canterbury. I'm in Godmersham
for the last seven miles of what would have been their journey.
It was thought to be a route taken by pilgrims to get to Canterbury.
The trouble is, nobody is entirely sure of the exact path
they would've taken, but everyone round here seems to know its name.
It's called the Pilgrims' Way.
To find out more, I'm meeting a man who's spent
the last ten years researching the track way.
-All right there, Derek.
Do I happen to find you on the Pilgrims' Way?
I think it probably was. I mean, there were five
key prehistoric track ways that ran through southern England.
It was an ideal surface for walking. It was mainly chalk.
There was plenty of flint, so you had a hard surface underfoot,
and you had exceptionally good drainage.
What was life on the road like for the pilgrims?
Well, people would've been quite wealthy that were Pilgrims.
Most of us wouldn't have been pilgrims, we wouldn't have been able
to leave the land and go on
an extended jaunt across the countryside,
so these people were wealthy. Some were well connected
and stayed in the archbishop's palaces along the way.
It's easy to think that they were poor people
and they cuddled around fires and things.
Well, on the other hand, there is some folklore that suggests
that the snails we find along the Pilgrims' Way
-were dropped by Norman Pilgrims.
-Maybe they were.
Maybe they were transporting their own food.
This would have been an exciting moment
for mediaeval pilgrims,
because if you look down the valley,
this is the first sight they would have had
of Canterbury Cathedral and the Bell Harry Tower.
There's an Edwardian writer called Hilaire Belloc.
He describes this scene.
"It is from this place that a man after all these hundred miles
"can first see Canterbury. We looked through the mist,
"down the hollow glen towards the valley between walls of trees.
"We thought, perhaps, that a dim mark in the haze far off
"was the tower of the cathedral."
"Could not be sure."
Pilgrims made long journeys to Canterbury
to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket,
the former Archbishop of the Cathedral.
He was murdered by the knights of King Henry II because he
disagreed with government policy and offended the interest of the church.
After his death, Becket was made a saint.
What would happen when they'd finally get to the Cathedral?
They'd visit the shrine,
but they would have also carried their flasks.
What's that for?
The blood and the brains of Becket,
we know from witnesses that were there,
were scooped up and they would have filled some of this in their flasks
and they would've taken it back with them.
As a little memento, they had a piece of his body.
-Would they have charged for that?
-I'm sure they did.
They were at it even then. My goodness.
'With such macabre matters on my mind, it's time for Derek and I
'to go our own ways. I'm heading for Boughton Aluph Church.
'Locals think it was an important stopover for pilgrims.'
We believe that the pilgrims collected here to keep warm
and to wait until the numbers built up sufficiently for them to proceed
to Canterbury because the next bit was regarded as rather dangerous.
Why would they be targeted?
They were carrying valuables to leave the shrine in Canterbury
and people knew that, so they lay in wait for them.
Even if you're not on a pilgrimage, the route is absolutely beautiful
and passes through some surprising places.
This used to be part of Jane Austen's brother's estate
and she visited here all the time. You can picture her
up there on the folly, dreaming up Mr Darcy.
Finally, the pilgrims' epic journey would be over.
They'd arrived at their most sacred destination.
I wonder what it would have been like,
having travelled maybe hundreds of miles to get to this point
knowing that the shrine of Thomas Becket,
the reason for this perilous journey, was right inside there.
Thomas Becket's bones may be long gone,
but his presence lives on within the cathedral.
It's strange to think, all those years ago, pilgrims would have
seen the cathedral pretty much as I see it now -
albeit without the scaffolding.
Today there's a team of people working tirelessly to maintain it.
So I've got special permission to go behind the scenes
and find out how on earth you look after a place of this magnitude.
The stained glass survived the wrath
of King Henry VIII during the Reformation and later the puritans,
who smashed any image they thought blasphemous.
Each section of window has to be carefully cleaned.
How do you get these ginormous windows down to work on?
Ah, see, they're not that ginormous. They come apart in sections.
The people in the Middle Ages were very clever in making sure
you could maintain things.
And how do you maintain them?
We clean it very, very carefully under the microscope.
We've got moulds growing on them,
we have salts developing from the glass, we have flaking paint,
all that's a huge, messy crust on the inside of the glass.
So it's a very time-consuming, hugely delicate operation.
'But it's not just the glass that needs work.
'19 stonemasons have replaced part of the walls
'with thousands of handmade stones.
'I'm nearly at the end of my modern-day pilgrimage,
'just one last thing.
'I'm going up four floors of the cathedral to do my bit
to' become part of its history.'
-There you are.
-Is this ready to go in?
That's ready. Ready and waiting.
-Oof, that's heavy. Just pop it on top?
-Just pop it on, yeah.
So it's already been prepped.
Look how neatly that's been made! Perfect.
-What a fit.
-Give it a knock on top.
-A bit of tapping.
What a moment.
I feel rather moved. Fantastic.
'It's hard to imagine that my stone will form part of this
'stunning building way beyond my lifetime.
'But for future travellers, Canterbury Cathedral will always be
'a special ending to a very personal journey.'
In the Cotswolds, Adam's got his hands full
as he readies his farm for spring.
Through the winter, life on the farm tends to slow down.
The fields lie more or less untouched and, for the animals,
it's mostly just a case of keeping them fed and fending off the cold.
But come the spring, it's all systems go.
This time of year is all about preparing for the coming months.
The crops need the right amount of nutrients in the soil to grow
and we need to feed our pregnant ewes for the lambs inside them.
This year, we're expecting about 1200 lambs.
Slightly more than last year.
As lambing time approaches, we have to start giving the ewes extra grub.
This is a bit of an automated feeding device
and it's really labour-saving. The buggy is pulling the hopper,
and in the hopper are the sheep nuts that are being measured out
so that the correct amount of food goes to this flock of sheep.
I just have to drive along, making sure I don't run them over.
The ewes have learned to recognise their drive-by dinner
and fight it out for first dibs.
Pregnancy has made them hungry and with no grass left in my field,
they need a bit of extra help.
The lambs are growing very fast inside the ewe
in the last month or so of pregnancy
and they really draw upon her nutrients.
You have to feed them correctly.
These sheep nuts are full of the right oils and proteins
and fibres as well as essential vitamins and minerals. These ewes
are all carrying twins. They're about six weeks off lambing,
they're getting 0.2 of a kilo per head per day.
I've got another flock of ewes that are even closer to lambing
and I have to get those into the shed.
But first, I need to prepare for their arrival.
This one's seen better days. I can't use that.
A thick bed to start off with, and then as it gets dirty or wet,
we just add fresh straw to the top.
Who's a good girl? Hello, Maud. Hello.
Come on then, dogs. Let's go get these sheep. Go on.
That's these girls' home now for the next month or so
until they give birth, and they should settle in here nicely.
These ewes are giving birth to single lambs,
so they don't need a lot of grub, whereas that lot over there
are giving birth to two, so they'll get a bit more.
If all goes according to plan,
there'll soon be hundreds of new faces on the farm,
but spring will bring new life in other ways too.
We grow three main crops on the farm -
barley, wheat and oilseed rape.
This is the oilseed rape that was planted last August.
It shoots down roots,
grows some leaves and then goes dormant over the winter.
Now that spring is coming and the days are getting longer and warmer,
this plant will grow very quickly and before you know it,
it'll be an array of yellow flowers.
It's amazing how quickly the seasons come round.
The rapeseed is used to make oil and a successful crop depends on
getting the right balance of nutrients in the ground.
The soil on this farm is quite thin and stony.
It's called Cotswold brash
and it isn't very nutrient rich, so to grow good quality crops,
we have to feed it with nitrogen.
Of all the crops I planted back in the autumn,
oilseed rape is the earliest to mature
and the first to be spread with fertiliser.
This can only be done when the conditions are right.
The ground has to be dry enough for the tractors
and it can't be blowing a gale. It has to be still,
so the spread of the fertiliser is accurate
and when we can go, we've got to go, so it's all hands to the deck.
It's a bit like a military operation.
While my arable manager, Martin Parkinson,
is working the fields, I'm ferrying supplies of fertiliser to him
so he doesn't waste any time coming back to the farm.
-Last field to do, then.
-Yeah, last field and then all 275 acres done.
This is about £300 a ton, so you've got to go in the right place.
It's over £300 a ton, so we need to make sure we get it on
at the right time, in the right place.
People don't realise that if you didn't put the nitrogen on,
it wouldn't grow.
There'd be nothing there at all. Pigeons would eat it.
But we don't want to use too much fertiliser either.
Using more than we need can be bad for the environment.
The price has also doubled in the last few years
and the 35 tonnes we'll be using today will cost around ten grand,
so we use on-board computers to make sure we get it right.
Provided we get a good harvest, it'll all be worth the effort.
There's one more job to do on the farm today.
Teenage rams - full of testosterone and a bit of temperament.
All these here are ram lambs and they were born April last year,
so they're coming up to a year old,
and Mike chose them in the lambing pen
for potential breeding stock that we can sell on to other farmers.
Now that they're a year old, we can tell
whether they've made the grade or not.
We're going to go through them, select out the elite, the very best,
that will get sold on to other breeders.
The rest will go for meat.
These are Norfolk Horns. Got to check their teeth, testicles,
feet and then their overall body condition and what they look like.
Because they're lambs, these have only got baby teeth
on their bottom jaw and their teeth have to meet the pad.
-He's got really good teeth.
-Yeah, that one has as well.
Testicles - need two good, even-sized testicles.
-All good on the testicles.
Norfolk Horns, the rams and the ewes have got horns,
but the rams have got much stronger horns.
They need a bit of a gap in between, that they've all got,
not too close to their faces, not too wide.
-In fact, they're all really nice.
These are all good. We'll take them to the sales in the autumn
and hopefully they'll make money. These rams, we'll want to be making
300 or 400 quid to pay for the time and effort that has gone into them.
When they're all together like this, you can really see just how
colourful and varied the native British breeds are,
but unless they're near-perfect specimens, the rams are no use
for breeding stock, and that means some tough decisions.
These are the Herdwicks. These are sheep that survive
up in the Lakeland Fells, really tough sheep.
They like them nice and clean here, so that's very good, that one.
This is a reject. It's got a horn growing into his head,
he's under-grown and hasn't made the grade, so he's a no.
Even when it comes to my Cotswolds, a breed that is close to my heart,
this is no time to get sentimental.
The meat price for sheep at the moment is very good,
so these big lambs will make 80 quid, 90 quid.
A bit more even, up to 100.
Because they're not really amazing,
they're good but not brilliant, we're going to get rid of them all.
We're only aiming to keep
about half the rams, and the decisions don't get any easier.
These are four smart-looking tups.
Be quite difficult to make a choice on these.
-I don't particularly like that one.
-Take those two.
-Come on, boys.
-He dips a bit in the shoulder there.
He has had bad feet as well.
-Still got the best fleece though.
-Yeah, he has, yeah.
Selecting sheep to sell to other people for breeding,
particularly rams, is something that I really enjoy doing.
It's a great part of the job
and something to be proud of when you turn out a cracking good ram.
Next week, I'll be heading to the West Country,
hoping to add to my collection of rare breed chickens.
We've been exploring the North Kent countryside.
It's a landscape rich in tradition and history.
Around here there is a non-native species thriving on local farms.
Their numbers are on the increase across the UK
and they're becoming a culinary delight.
Goats. There are only 94,000 nationwide,
small beer compared to the UK's 10 million cows and 30 million sheep.
But when it comes to milk and cheese,
these girls punch well above their weight.
Debbie Vernon swapped a comfy IT desk job in London
for a life on the farm.
Husband David's dairy farm, to be exact,
but it was out with the cows and in with the goats.
So how did you end up with this many goats?
Well, we started with two goats about eight years ago.
We've got over 200 now.
I used to have an auntie that used to sing Paddy McGinty's Goat to me
and I learnt all the words when I was three or four years old,
and it's come from there, really!
'Debbie's goats produce 400 litres of milk a day.
'Some is sold through local shops, some goes to make cheese.'
And it's raw milk that you're producing?
It is. We're unusual in that we produce unpasteurised milk.
We had goats as I was growing up, and I was raised on raw milk,
but the reason we got them was, my sister had eczema.
A lot of our customers have psoriasis or eczema or colitis,
intolerance to traditional dairy produce.
'There are rules about selling raw goat milk, as it
contains live bacteria. The Food Standards Agency
reckons young children,
pregnant mums and the elderly should avoid it.
And obviously what goes in one end comes out the other,
so the feed is very important for you too.
Yes, we try to feed them as naturally as possible. As you see,
they're out grazing here. Most big commercial herds don't graze.
And we feed them a lot of herbs in their food as well.
Now, some of these girls, Debbie, are looking lovely and rotund!
Yes! I was trying to think of the appropriate term,
but are they in kid?
Yes, most of them. This is Ginger, she's having triplets.
'Debbie has 100 nannies in kid and is expecting about 150 new arrivals,
'with a few she hadn't banked on.
'So she has called in Michael Owen to confirm with a scan.'
-She's carrying twins.
-Good news, lads. The girls are fine.
Loads of kids on the way, you did a good job.
We had a bit of a breakout the other week,
and all the goats decided to let themselves out.
Having done that, they then went and let the two little boys out,
and we're just a bit concerned that they might have had a little fun
that they shouldn't have done.
So this is the moment of truth, then!
-This is the moment of truth.
-She is in kid.
-She's in kid!
-She's carrying twins.
'Mum needs to be in tiptop condition
'so the milk that goes to the shops is as good as it can be.
'But what happens when one of the girls is ill?'
One of the ways that Debbie tries to keep the herd as medicine free
as possible is by using acupuncture,
and Footsie here suffers from a bit of arthritis,
so I'm going to accompany her to her monthly session.
Come on, darling.
'Monica David is a local vet.
'She's a dab hand with the needles, so Debbie's goat is in good hands.'
So, as with normal acupuncture,
you're kind of following these energy pathways.
I always do use the Chinese line,
but I apply the Western approach -
we stimulate the body to release endorphins
that will cut the pain pathway.
How do you know
it's actually an effective treatment for her arthritis?
She will stand more easily in the morning
when normally she is stiff, or she will walk better.
She's a lovely girl, aren't you?
'Well, that's Footsie sorted for a few more weeks.
'Now, it's time to put my theory for Baker's bark to the test.'
Well, it's now feeding time, and Debbie, I've had this idea.
I don't know if you'll be interested,
but I've been coppicing this morning, right -
the only waste product of the whole process is the bark.
The moment of truth will they eat sweet chestnut bark? Here we go.
'Well, the girls seem interested. I checked with the nets and they said
'so long as the bark hasn't been treated or sprayed,
'and if it's only used as part of their regular diet, it's fine.
'Looks like I'm on to a winner.' Oh, we've got a bit of interest.
-What do you reckon?
-Yes, it's good roughage, isn't it?
Would you be interested in feeding them this?
As long as we know where it comes from and how it's treated.
Just up the road, Debbie, just up the road.
A wood farmer and a goat farmer working in perfect harmony.
Isn't that lovely?
'Life for Debbie's goats is good.
'They are comfy, healthy and have plenty of good stuff to eat.
'Important, because these animals are smarter than we think.'
And Julia will be finding out just how smart they are
after the Countryfile weather forecast for the week ahead.
Get your head out me bucket!
We've been getting to know North Kent.
It's an area of outstanding natural beauty, with open moors,
wooded valleys, and rich farmland.
And it's where some frontline scientific research is being done.
This is the Buttercups Goat Sanctuary near Maidstone.
It's where abused and abandoned goats come for some proper TLC.
It's also a place that is changing opinion
about how smart these animals actually are.
Take a look at this.
This video was taken here last summer.
It shows an experiment to test goat intelligence.
The animal has worked out how to get food out of a sealed box.
Dr Elodie Briefer, from Queen Mary University, London, ran that test.
She's running the same test again today,
and it looks like this lot know what is going on.
Now, we saw in the film the goats operating
this piece of machinery, but explain exactly what you've designed here.
So, we designed a complicated two-step process,
where they have to pull that out and then pull it up,
and then the pasta comes.
So what's the point of testing again now, six months later?
To see if they have a long-term memory of this task.
So you're going to put the same goats through the test.
'The goat we're after is called Willow.
'Now, it's been a few months since she did the test.
'Will she still remember how to open the box? Let's find out.'
-Here we go.
-She's really motivated.
Straight oh, my Lord, look at that!
-Straight for it.
'It's the speed with which she solved the puzzle
'that's evidence she remembered.'
So this proves they have a memory, proves they are very intelligent.
Yes, absolutely. She may destroy the box if we leave her!
-I think next, we should try a crossword.
'So why do we need to know how smart goats are?'
It informs us in terms of at least being able to show people
that the animals show quite complex behaviours
and they are intelligent animals.
So if you want to keep goats, you should really give them
the best possible welfare that you can.
A basic thing is, goats should never be kept on their own,
they should always be kept in a group, or at least a pair.
So showing how complicated their behaviours can be
actually helps inform people.
-And the handling and the treatment.
'It's something they pay heed to at Buttercups.
'All these animals are rescues, and they get the best of attention.'
What are you up to, Gillian?
-I'm leg scratching.
-Leg scratching, is this an official duty?
Not exactly, no, but one that he likes and enjoys anyway!
Can I have a go now? Oh, right a bit. Left a bit. lovely.
'Volunteers staff the sanctuary,
'but there are regular visits from the vet.
'Today, he's got his dentist's hat on.'
-It's like standing in line at the doctor's!
-That's just what we said.
-Oh, don't worry, it won't hurt.
-Look at all that stuff coming up there.
-All this stuff comes out.
They don't mind that too much. Then I'll have a good look inside.
I can see a nasty point in there
which I'll rasp off with a power tool in a minute.
Can the camera get in there?
Have a look, get in here. Get in there! There you go.
Can you see a sort of needle sticking down from the upper jaw?
-Yes, there we go.
-Well, we'll just try and buzz that down.
That's not a good noise, wherever you hear it.
Oh, look at this. So, Hattie is next in line. Not looking forward to it!
Not looking forward to it.
'Buttercups has been going for over 20 years.
'Let's meet the man behind it.'
-How many have you got here, Bob?
-We've got about 140 in this sanctuary
and another 95 in foster homes around the county.
We take them from as far afield as Cornwall and the Midlands.
-And what are the reasons that people abandon them?
I could tell you so many different forms of cruelty,
but also not only cruelty, but where they have been abandoned,
or people who of course can't manage them any more.
'Now, we know that goats go bonkers for food.
'I hope Matt is prepared for a feeding frenzy.'
-How you doing?
-I'm very well. Did you miss me?
-I have, yes. How were the snails?
-The snails were great, very tasty.
That's it, we thought we'd sort out something nice for you.
Good day with the goats? Stay where you are, you don't need to move.
I've got something for you. Bob?
Um... I just think that, you know, really,
you should do a little job for me.
You know, first time we've been back together and all that.
So if you can just help me out, because I've been doing it all day.
-This is Bob. Here you go, big boy.
-So, what I need you to do
-I'm sensing a stitch-up.
-I'm tired! I've been doing this all day,
It's been goats, goats and more goats. Sprinkle away,
-and I'll tell you when to stop.
-I just have to sprinkle now?
-Throw it over there.
-Where they can see it, over there. Have fun.
Not too much, not too much. One, two, three - come on!
-Come on, then.
-Come on, come on! Come on, then.
Come on, then. Come on, then! Go, go, go, go, go!
-What a beautiful sight. Come on then, girls.
-Girls and boys.
-Thanks for sorting that out.
-Pleasure, I knew you'd like that.
-How lovely it is to have you back on Countryfile.
-It's great to be back.
That's all we've got time for from North Kent.
Next week, we'll be in the New Forest.
They're letting me loose with a 30 ton digger.
I'm discovering a hidden landscape.
And I'm going in search of a hidden bounty,
but that's all, me hearties, we're empty.
-See you later.
-See you later. Bye-bye.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury explore North Kent. It may be known as the Garden of England, but Julia discovers there is more to this place than its apples and pears. Savvy food producers are finding there is a taste here for all sorts of food, like snails. She meets a snail breeder and a woman hoping to put snails on the map of Kent produce. While Julia samples the area's slimy delights, Matt is in the woods, where the locals are finding out new ways to make the trees pay.
Elsewhere, John Craven investigates the impact everyday foods have on the environment, and reveals some of the worst offenders. Down on the farm, Adam has his hands full as he readies his farm for spring.