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Flat, fertile fields lying low against the vast sky.
Farmland so rich, it's some of the most productive in Britain.
We're in the Lincolnshire Fens,
a man-made landscape taken back from the sea
by centuries of hard work.
This all used to be part of a trackless mire,
full of foul streams and fetid pools.
Not anymore though. After 300 years of draining,
this is what's left.
Some of the finest soil around.
It may well be October, but here it's still harvest time.
While Matt's exploring the fens, I'm heading further north
to learn about a very different kind of farming.
Check out these girls. They're... Ooh!
They're some of Lincolnshire's finest pigs.
I'll be finding out how they help make some of our best bangers.
Oh, easy ladies!
But do those sausages deserve special protection?
I'll be asking if only ones made in the county
should be called Lincolnshire sausages.
I think it's a good idea. It should have happened a long time ago.
And I'll be investigating the boom in wind power.
Will hundreds, even thousands, of extra turbines
help secure our future energy needs?
Or will their main impact be, as some people claim,
to ruin the landscape and hit us deep in our pockets?
And also tonight, Adam's farm
plays host to the Cotswolds annual dry-stone-walling competition.
Go on ladies, stop faffing about. No time for talking.
The rich soil of the Fenlands, some of the most fertile land around.
Locals like to think of this countryside as England's farmstead.
This is Lincolnshire.
And we're in an area of the county called South Holland.
The potato harvest has already ended,
but there's plenty more to do.
At this farm, they harvest crops virtually all year round,
getting full use from these fertile fields.
So Robin, this is THE finest soil in Britain, you think?
You are standing in just about the best field in the country.
Let's have a look at it. You've got a spade. Let's have a dig.
Show us why this soil is so incredible.
-Just look at that, Matt.
You could go to bed in that, couldn't you?
It's deep soil, so the roots do go down.
It's easily worked, it's moisture-retentive.
There's nothing you can't grow here. You can grow absolutely anything.
And they do. Robin grows all sorts here,
including one crop that isn't necessarily a popular choice for the average shopper.
Right, Robin, so what delights have you got growing in here?
-Well, this is celeriac, Matt.
It's very much like a celery, but it's the best bit,
the rooty bit of it.
Yeah, yeah. It's...
To the eye, it's not remarkably attractive, is it?
-To be honest.
It is a bit off-putting, I'll agree with you, until you taste it.
But before I get to do that, I need to help harvest it.
And they're letting me loose on nearly half a million quid's worth of kit to do so.
No pressure, then(!)
Neil's got it all set up for you, I think.
So all you've got to do is make sure you don't chop the crop up,
or drop that elevator down into the cart,
That would be a very expensive mistake. But good luck.
-I'll have my fingers crossed.
-And can you hold that whilst you're crossing your fingers?!
All right! Hopefully I'll see you in a bit, with a nice crop of celeriac.
-Right, so...faced with a lot of controls that looks like an aircraft.
Well, they look worse than what they are.
-So, how sensitive is this arm?
-Move it side to side, you'll get the feel of it.
-OK. And then we just, um, gently forward, gently forward?
Right, Neil. Well, I REALLY hope I don't make a mess of it.
Well, we'll get you by, we'll get you by. That's it, off you go.
-Let your clutch go.
-Are you happy with that?
'Here we go.
'A high-tech harvester in my hands, lifting three rows at a time.
'I've got to keep that elevator arm at just the right height, too.'
-A bit wide?
-No, you're all right. They're going up.
-There they go.
'Luckily, there's satellite guidance to keep the tractor going dead straight.'
That's it, you're on GPS.
'But there's still plenty of scope for operator error.
'If I don't keep those blades in just the right place,
'it's thousands of pounds' worth of crop chopped in two.'
Just this way a little bit. You're taking bits off the sides.
-You've only got a little bit each side of your celeriac.
-Looking down, there's, what, two inches maybe?
-That's it, yeah.
'So far, things are going OK.'
Going like the clappers! I tell you what,
do we dare go up to two?
-Oh yeah, we haven't done that.
-Here comes two.
Now we're moving!
'After harvesting, the celeriac will be carted off
'to be cleaned, washed and dried
'so it can be sold out of store nearly all year round.
'It seems I've got to the end of this row without causing too much damage.
'I think I'll quit while I'm ahead.'
Robin, what did you make of that? Was that all right?
You were all right, Matt.
I'd like to say you're rubbish but you're quite good, really!
Just these at the beginning, look. Just these. What happened here?
-Is that me?
-Yeah, that's you.
-Oh, dear me.
It's part of the service. I slice them for you as well.
'Now I've done my bit, I'm keen to try out this versatile veg.'
This is like the Lincolnshire version of a ploughman's lunch.
-It's a celeriac supper.
-Celeriac's the order of the day.
-These are celeriac oven chips. These have curry powder on them.
-These have got paprika on.
-Good, aren't they?
-Half the calories of potato chips.
-Here's some soup.
-It's a very versatile vegetable, isn't it?
It isn't the only unusual crop here.
In the next field, they're hand-harvesting fennel.
They're also the UK's largest producer of root stock for chicory,
a crisp salad leaf grown in complete darkness in a pack house down the road.
It's intensive farming but with a difference.
Robin hopes more customers will share his pioneering spirit.
-Here's to the celeriac. Celeriac toast - there's a new one for you!
THEY BOTH LAUGH
Now, Lincolnshire has its fair share of wind turbines,
which we'll see more and more of across the UK in the coming years,
but is wind the right choice for the clean energy that we need?
John has been to investigate.
When it comes to wind power, Britain rules the waves,
boasting nearly 500 offshore turbines,
more than any other country.
Add to that the ones built on land, and you've got power
for more than three million homes.
But the Government's decided that's nowhere near enough.
It's planning to vastly increase the amount of wind farms
to try to meet European energy targets
that are aimed at cutting our greenhouse gas emissions.
And that means using fewer fossil fuels and more renewables.
In fact, the Government wants 15% of all the power that we use
to come from renewable sources by 2020.
At the very heart of that strategy is wind power,
which is growing at an astonishing rate, as I'm about to discover.
'But this policy is far from being free of controversy.
'While supporters say it's creating a cleaner and more secure energy supply,
'critics claim harnessing the wind can be costly and inefficient.'
So, is wind power all it's cracked up to be,
or are we all being conned?
I'm starting my investigation 10 miles off the coast of north Norfolk,
where the Sheringham Shoal wind farm is now being built
at a cost of a billion pounds. When it's finished,
it'll cover an area about the same size as the city of Norwich.
That's a big stretch of sea.
'The companies building these wind farms
'are guaranteed a generous price for their electricity
'but getting them up and running is a vast and expensive task.'
Today, they're filling the blades on this turbine.
-Those are 50-metre blades.
-How did they get the blades there, then?
That vessel is a self-propelled vessel.
-It comes out...
-It's a ship?
It is a ship, with legs.
-A ship with legs?!
-Yep. Jacks itself up
-next to the turbine, then the crane on board can lift all the pieces up.
-It's all very impressive,
but the huge cost of building an offshore farm,
and all the effort, is it going to be worth it in the long run?
Absolutely. At the moment, we're just scratching the surface.
We have 1,500 megawatts of offshore wind capacity installed.
That's about enough to generate the electrical energy of about three-quarters of a million homes -
pretty impressive - but we're looking to go about 12 times that amount by 2020.
Sheringham Shoal is just one site. Another is here
at Greater Gabbard, 70 miles down the coast,
where work is also going on round the clock
to try to meet this massive 1,200% increase.
Whilst critics say it'll all come at great cost for questionable results,
supporters believe that any problems will be overcome.
It's a fair comment that it's expensive at the minute.
Certainly with offshore wind, we are very focused on bringing the cost down.
We've all driven past wind farms and seen the blades not turning.
Yeah, well, sometimes the wind doesn't blow,
but 70-80% of the time, a wind farm will be producing some power.
To cater for the colossal increase in offshore wind power
which the Government wants, a building boom is underway.
This project, the London Array off the Essex coast,
will house 340 turbines,
nearly doubling the UK's capacity at a single stroke.
In fact, it'll be the biggest wind farm in the world.
But if we're going to generate 15% of our electricity this way by 2020,
we'll need many more like this,
and it seems no obstacle is too big to overcome.
Much of the sea around the UK is off limits
when it comes to building wind farms.
That's because RAF radar signals from places like this get confused
when they encounter the spinning blades of a turbine.
To overcome this, a whole new radar system is being introduced,
paid for by the wind farm companies.
Once this new system is in place,
hundreds of extra miles will be opened up for new wind farms,
ensuring that Britain remains the front runner in this new technology.
But some say we're heading full speed down the wrong path.
I think the problem is, we are trying to replace
power sources like coal and nuclear, which are on whenever we need them,
and can be turned off when we don't need them,
with a weather-dependent, intermittent energy form like wind,
which we can't manage.
So what's the solution, then?
Well, the solution has to be developing the ability
to store renewable energy, especially wind, especially solar,
so we can use that energy when we need it. We can't at the moment.
'Electricity, whether from fossil fuels or renewables, can't be stored,
'and wind presents an added problem.
'No-one can be sure exactly when it's going to blow,
'or how strong it's going to be.'
This is the control room of the National Grid,
the beating heart of our nation's energy supply,
pumping electricity to homes and businesses.
On this vast screen, you can see just how much electricity
is being sent around the country at this very moment.
The Grid was designed in the 1930s to handle power from a consistent source - coal.
So how's it coping these days with an increasing amount of electricity
coming from an unpredictable and erratic source - the wind?
Well, just recently, the UK caught the tail end of a hurricane,
and the wind turbines were spinning around like mad.
So much power was being produced that you couldn't cope. You had to close them down.
There was too much wind for the transmission system to cope,
and in those circumstances,
we issue balancing actions, which are instructions from here to curtail generation,
and we do that for wind, thermal and coal.
It does seem crazy, when you've got a new source of energy like wind,
proving to be very efficient, and then you have to close it down.
That is a challenge, and of course we do need to expand the Grid,
and what we also need to do is build more capacity to Europe,
so we can ship power across when the wind blows in the UK here,
and possibly even import it when, for example, it's blowing hard in Germany.
Is that likely to happen?
Yes, there's lots of plans in place for new interconnection,
and as well as that, in the UK alone, the National Grid
is spending over £1 billion per year on expanding the Grid.
It seems that, whatever the cost,
wind power is going to play a big part in our future energy supply,
so who will the winners and losers be?
That's what I'll be discovering later on.
This is the Lincolnshire Wash, where the tide's ebb and flow
creates an ever-changing landscape of water, mud and marsh.
It's one of the highest tides of the year right now,
and that means that the thousands of birds that call this place their winter home
could be on the wing all together, and if we time it right, we're in for a real treat.
We're on Freiston Shore, where the flood defences have been adapted
to create a real haven for the birds.
-Hi. Are you all right?
You're looking out over this lagoon. That hasn't always been this way.
No, it's been here for ten years.
We've landscaped it, put islands in, and the birds are loving it.
-Let's take a closer look.
-OK, let's go.
'At high tide, native birds roost here in their thousands,
'alongside some winter visitors from Scandinavia.'
-Wow! This is the front row, isn't it?
What an amazing place to be. There's plenty out here. How many do you reckon, already?
It's difficult to count.
We've probably got 3,000 or 4,000, first guess.
Are any particular to the Lincolnshire Wash?
Yeah. The one that I think we're probably best known for is the black-tailed godwit,
-which comes from Iceland. There's probably 1,000 of those.
-Oh, my goodness.
-They're the ones on the far bank?
-What else have we got here?
Yeah, we've got oyster-catchers, 600 or 700 of those.
-They've got incredibly long, strong bills.
We've got dunlin, we've got knots, and lots of redshanks as well.
We want to catch them as they flock back out to feed,
and the tide's already going out fast.
Before long, they're on the move, heading right out over our heads!
This is amazing. Because we're so high, they feel like they're right on top of you.
-Almost makes you fall over backwards!
Oh, wow! Right overhead!
It's an incredible experience
as wave after wave soar over the salt marsh.
They go out to feed on the mudflats. What a perfect group to end on.
-A lovely, big flock.
I did get treated to a beautiful, close-up experience of these birds,
and there's more than just wading birds to this part of the country.
As the marshes along the coast become flat fenlands further in,
intensive farming increases,
but surprisingly so too does the population of a much-loved
and rather elusive native bird - the barn owl.
They love to hunt along the grassy corridors
that separate these wide, open fields,
and local farmers have been encouraged to allow that habitat to grow to boost their numbers.
-So you've got some barn owl chicks for me to see.
I have. We'll look in this nest box, and hopefully, find some chicks.
-I'll give you a hand with the bag.
-Thank you. I'll take the ladder.
Why is Lincolnshire so good for barn owls?
These dishes and dykes provide their lifeline for food.
The short-tail vole is their favourite prey. That lives in this rough grass and habitat.
There's a lot of conservation effort gone in and, as a result,
population now about 1,000 pairs in Lincolnshire.
-This is what we call a pole box.
-I can see why you call it that!
They're good in Lincolnshire, because when we look across this habitat and landscape,
there's so few buildings suitable for barn owl,
so we have to provide these artificial sites.
'Barn owls had been in long-term decline, but since boxes were introduced over 20 years ago,
'numbers have trebled here in Lincolnshire,
'and this one is home to a healthy young brood, ready for ringing.'
Ah, now that's too cute.
-Gently in the bag. Yes, we've got three.
Are you all set?
Oh, look, a bag of chicks!
That's ridiculously sweet. Shall we have a go at this ringing? What's the best thing to do?
If we sit down on the grass...
'To keep track of the local population, the chicks are ringed every year. Carefully, of course.'
-And that'll stay on the barn owl all its life?
We'll check the weight. That's what we'll do now.
I just pop them in the cradle. They don't need to go in a bag.
They're usually happy to sit there.
-So, if you could read that off of the scale.
-460, I'd say.
-So the bag weighs 100, so it's 360.
-360. Right. Any other measurements we need to take?
What we're going to do is measure the wing and get an idea of the age.
By saying idea, we can be accurate to plus or minus a day with this measurement.
That's incredible! How do you do that?
These are the primary feathers here, and there's ten of these,
so we put the ruler on where it's breaking through to the tip of the feather.
-65, 65, 66... Bob?
Well, it's six weeks old tomorrow.
These little ones are this year's second brood of chicks,
something which only happens every three or four years,
when the vole population peaks, and they certainly seem fairly content.
Barn owl chick babysitting service!
'They'll be ready to fledge in a couple of weeks,
'and hopefully they'll be strong enough to make it through the winter.'
Earlier in the programme, we were looking at
the expected huge rise in wind power across the UK,
but in the race to create more of our energy this way,
who will win, and who is set to lose out? Here's John again.
Earlier, I discovered how the plan to put wind power
at the heart of our future energy supply
is creating a building boom in wind farms, both on land and out at sea.
With billions being poured into wind power,
and with it being at the centre of the Government's strategy on renewables,
the future seems certain.
So, who will the losers and winners be, in this wind revolution?
The most obvious winner is the environment, as less fossil fuels are burnt.
But who else benefits?
Well, another clear winner is big business.
Companies building the wind farms get a generous price for the electricity they produce.
To learn more, I'm meeting a man whose Norwegian company
is creating the wind farm that I visited off the Norfolk coast.
What kind of incentives does a company like yours
get from the Government, to set up big wind farm at sea?
All the investments upfront is paid by ourselves,
but after we start producing electricity,
we are paid by selling the power into the market.
We also receive a bonus from the Government,
because it is renewable electricity.
Electricity is bought from producers at an average price of five pence per kilowatt hour.
But wind farms get bonuses.
For offshore wind, that's around nine pence extra per kilowatt hour,
guaranteed for 20 years,
and when you're talking about nearly three million of these units every day, that figure soon adds up.
Is it going to make your company very rich?
No, not very rich compared to other investment,
but it's a fairly good return on £1 billion investment, yes.
So, big firms may be cashing in, but are they British businesses?
Well, in most cases, no,
and for opponents of the push for wind power, that raises concerns.
I don't have a massive issue with the fact that these are foreign firms.
Four of the big six energy companies are now foreign owned.
I think the key issue is, do we get high-skilled
British manufacturing jobs involved in this sector?
At the moment, a lot of this material is manufactured overseas.
Nick Clegg talks about a green jobs revolution.
We need to see that starting to develop.
But how many jobs in Britain is it going to create, this industry?
We are now in the process... we are transforming
from a pan-European project into a local business.
A year from now, around 70 people will be directly involved
in operating and maintaining the wind farm,
and 95% are recruited here, locally.
Even if a lot of the big business profit goes abroad,
at least some much-needed jobs will be created here in the UK.
But while a handful of people might benefit from new employment,
critics say it's the majority of us, already feeling the pinch,
who'll pay a high price for embracing wind.
So, what's your prediction, then,
about how much fuel bills will rise, because of green power?
Fuel bills, up until 2030, could double. The Government acknowledges there will be an increase.
It claims there will then be a decrease.
But for every 1% increase in fuel bills,
44,000 households slide into fuel poverty, which is a social crisis.
Supporters of wind farms say that,
although we do pay a green premium in our electricity bills,
those figures are vastly exaggerated.
Just how much we'll really end up paying seems uncertain.
Other winners are the landowners, who get paid thousands of pounds a year
to have wind farms on their fields,
and livestock can still graze underneath,
and crops can still be sown.
Here, for example, they grow wheat and oilseed rape under the turbines.
But while those owning the fields enjoy good rental income,
for others, there's an age-old problem -
-having something right on your doorstep.
-See this road?
At the end of it, it's a nice, typical scene.
But soon there will be eight wind turbines put in,
and if I can show you a picture on here.
That's an impression, is it?
You'll see, here, that we have got
a huge wind turbine at the end of the road.
This is one of the eight, which is about a kilometre away.
But, if I may say so, it does seem rather like "not in my backyard".
Well, it's got to be in somebody's backyard, yes, you're right,
but if they had a two kilometre rule in this country,
as is the case with many other countries, and it's increasingly so,
the two-kilometre rule would get rid of all this problem,
and people would accept wind farms more. I'm all in favour of renewable energy,
but putting wind turbines this close is just too much.
Love them or loathe them,
wind turbines look set to become an increasing feature of our landscape,
as the race to meet Britain's renewable targets gains pace.
What also seems certain is that the controversy
surrounding wind power will continue to rage,
especially as a minority cash in, while the rest of us pay the price.
Next week, we'll be investigating controversial plans
to connect these wind farms to the Grid, using hundreds of new pylons,
something you can also hear about
on Radio 4's Costing The Earth, this Wednesday night at 9pm.
'Later in the programme, I'll be learning how to speak Fen...'
-Seeing you ain't found no proper Lincolnshire stuff charn.
'..Ellie's got some feeding to do...'
-They don't like when you get in the way of breakfast.
-No, quite. Who does?
'..and Adam's looking for a dry-stone-walling champion.'
It's looking really smart.
I've got money riding on you that's looking pretty impressive.
'Plus, if you want to find out what the weather's up to,
'then we've got the Countryfile forecast for the week ahead.'
The waters of the Lincolnshire Wash flow along a man-made landscape
reclaimed from the sea over the centuries.
Katie's been to find out who's putting this new land to use.
These rich, coastal flats are in the heart of
Lincolnshire's farming country - prime land for cultivating crops.
But there's something a little different about these farmers.
This may look like a farm. It produces food like a farm.
But actually...it's a prison.
It's one of a handful of our open prisons.
For the men working here, it's an opportunity -
the first chance many of them will have had, in decades, to start over.
North Sea Camp has over 350 inmates.
It's also home to 791 sheep and 151 pigs,
all looked after by the prisoners.
And they take pride in their animals here.
-What are you doing here?
We're just getting these pigs ready to show.
'Dan's been here six months, after spending eight months in a closed prison.'
-Anywhere in particular?
-Anywhere you like!
-Are they quite friendly?
-They're OK. This bites!
But not all the pigs here get this special treatment.
The destination for most is a prison kitchens.
What you eat at breakfast...
-..Is what we rear on the farm.
-The majority of it.
-What's that like?
Well, it's all right, I suppose!
Was it strange coming from somewhere where all your minutes
and hours were accounted for, to coming here?
Definitely, because you've got to think for yourself here.
Before, they're telling you what to do, when to get up, when to go to bed, sort of thing.
But here, as long as you toe the line, it's a good job.
-Do you think you'll keep pigs when you get out?
-I'm thinking about having a couple, yeah.
-I've got a 14-year-old daughter, so the chances of having a pig, rearing it...
-She'd love that.
-Until it's time to eat him!
-Do you think she'd get on with that?
Open prisons like this are made to test if inmates are ready for release.
Every day, 80 or so are allowed out to work in the local community
and on the odd family visit.
The rest work here in prison.
The success that hard graft like this can have has been witnessed
over the years by the prison's farm manager, Bob Betts.
Do you really think that this work will help these men in the future?
It does, a lot of them. It gives them a sense of worth,
and when they go outside, some will go into farming.
You've got this land, you're producing pigs and sheep
and hen's eggs and all sorts of things,
-is this commercially viable?
-Yes, it is.
We supply the kitchens and the staff mess.
We just wouldn't be able to manage without the produce from the farm.
North Sea Camp's rich farmland produces enough to feed the prisoners...and some.
The remainder gets sent to local market.
And it's all down to prisoners this fertile land is here in the first place.
If you follow me up this mound and look out, you can see the sea.
And on an average high tide, the level of the water over here
is two metres higher than the land on the other side of the mound.
This farmland was once the sea bed
and the tough job of reclaiming it from the sea
was given to borstal boys.
In the 1930s, 20 borstal boys, the young offenders of yesteryear,
set up camp here after a long march from Stafford Prison.
They were made to painstakingly build sea wall after sea wall,
using just basic hand tools.
The work carried on into the 1970s,
until 1,000 acres of salt marsh had been reclaimed.
Today's workers, though, are no longer the boys of the borstal days.
Two-thirds of them are long-term offenders,
often on life sentences with no release date.
They have to earn it.
This inmate spent 20 years behind bars before arriving here.
For the sake of victims connected to his crime, we can't show his face.
What was it like the first time you came from a closed prison to here?
It was daunting, absolutely daunting. In closed prison, everything is done for you.
You come to these places, it's all about motivation for you to be
more responsible for your own actions. That's what they do.
They give you more responsibility, to see how you handle it.
For this inmate, that means taking care of the farm's sheep.
-You're becoming like a sheep farmer?
A stockman they call it, because you're looking after the general welfare of the animals,
-making sure they're well, healthy, fed, they've got no injuries.
-You sound quite passionate about it.
I absolutely love it. At first, I thought, "Stink of the farm," but now it doesn't even bother me.
-"What are they on about? Stink of the farm?"
-How do you feel looking after these sheep?
-Does it give you a sense of pride?
-Yeah. What it is, you feel human again.
Someone is thinking, "You're quite capable of doing it."
-Is this something you'd like to do?
-Without a doubt, yeah. I wish I'd discovered it years ago.
All I want to do is go out and lead a law-abiding life.
I'd do this from first thing in the morning until last thing at night if I could,
and let the whole world pass me by.
Hearing stories like that may make these prisons seem worthwhile,
but in recent years, open prisons have courted a lot of controversy.
After all, with no walls or fences,
if they want to misbehave, what's to stop them?
North Sea Camp is one of nine open prisons in the countryside around England and Wales.
Earlier this year, riots at Ford Prison in rural Sussex hit the headlines.
Four years ago, North Sea Camp found itself at the centre
of a drugs and alcohol scandal.
It's been governor Graham Batchford's job to turn the place around.
Open prisons can be quite controversial - do they work?
I see them as an essential part
in reintegrating long-serving prisoners back into the community.
A lot of our guys have spent 10, 15, 20, 25 years in prison
before coming to an open establishment.
Those are the ones that will benefit most from this.
Prisons are all about carrot and stick.
Open prisons provide a huge carrot for the right sort of prisoner.
It may be a gamble, but if it does work,
then the results can be, quite literally, life changing.
The Cotswolds are well-known for their gentle hillsides
and honey-coloured limestone,
and this week Adam's farm is hosting a competition
that couldn't do without them.
ADAM: Come on, lambs.
These dry-stone walls are a really important
part of the look of the Cotswold Hills.
They've been the field boundaries for centuries.
We're about 1,000 foot up here, so for my animals in the winter,
they provide shelter from the rain and the sleet and the snow,
and on a hot day like today, provide a bit of shade.
With the onset of winter,
my walls need to be in good shape to provide that protection.
Luckily, my farm has been chosen to host the 10th anniversary
of the Cotswolds dry-stone-walling competition this year, but more about that later.
The farmland round here is known as Cotswold Brash.
It's made up of this very thin topsoil that's full of limestone.
Because it's so thin and stony,
it droughts out, and it can be quite difficult to farm.
But in days gone by,
the presence of all this accessible rock on and under the surface,
was the reason why you see the estimated 4,000 miles of dry-stone walls in this area.
Rocks like this are obviously a pain for me, in arable farming,
but you can understand, in the mediaeval times,
that they were seen as a good natural resource for building things like the sheep cots,
that were enclosures that kept the famous Cotswold Sheep in,
that are well known for their wonderful wool.
It was a job for the farmers in the winter, building dry-stone walls and enclosures.
Now that the fields are mainly arable crops,
they're not needed as a barrier to keep livestock in,
and so, because they're so expensive to repair,
often they're falling down, and you get gaps like this.
Look at those deer!
Before the dry-stone-walling competition can begin,
I've got to get some supplies.
Fortunately, I don't have to venture too far.
There are numerous quarries a stone's throw away from my farm.
They've been quarrying round here for centuries.
This is Tinker's Barn Quarry, which is on the edge of my farm,
and they shift about 40 tonnes of walling stone a day.
There's about 20 tonnes here, so I need all of this, and more, for my walling competition.
-Good to see you.
-Good to see you.
-Still producing some good stone?
Stone from this area, around your farm,
has been producing walling stone
and Cotswold roofing slates for 400 years.
There are a number of very skilled wallers in this area.
So, as a general rule of thumb, how much stone do you need of a metre of wall?
We would say you would get 2 to 2.5 face metres to one tonne of stone.
So, to build a one-metre stretch of wall,
you'll need about a tonne of stone, costing about 85 quid.
Back on the farm, the competitors are ready for a day's hard graft repairing my wall.
Sorry, competing for first prize!
And this is their task - to dismantle and then rebuild this stretch of wall
that probably hasn't been touched for well over 100 years.
This year's 21 participants have come from all over the UK.
Each of them will work on an average two-metre stretch of wall.
Yorkshireman Trevor Wragg is one of the judges.
Now, your stone, up with you, is rounded and knobbly,
-very different to this?
Every area has got their own style of walling.
How long do you think this wall has been here, then?
-I should say it's over 200 years old.
-Hopefully what they build today will well outlive me?
-I hope so.
If it falls down at the end of the week, I'll be making phone calls!
Not to me, I haven't built it!
Well, the whistle's gone,
and everyone is now frantically pulling the wall down.
I didn't realise how fast they were going to work.
Why do they have to go so fast? What's the rush now?
You've only got about seven hours to build the wall in that time,
-so you have got to knock on.
-The quicker you get it down, the more time you've got to build it?
Come on, ladies, stop faffing about. No time for talking.
-< You know what you can tell him to do, don't you?
-We would, but this is a family programme!
Now the old wall is down, the new one can start going up.
I wouldn't even know where to begin,
so what are the judges looking for at this stage?
It's important putting the length into the wall,
that gives it its strength as well.
And as you can see, they're nearly all back to back.
Hardly any middle fill.
Once they start building up, they won't have all the stone that will reach back to back,
-so they've got to use the hearting, or the packing, as we call it.
-It's pretty technical.
Is it right, once you've picked a stone up to put on the wall,
-you shouldn't be putting it down again?
-That's the sort of old story they used to say.
They see the stone on the ground that WILL go into the place that you're looking for.
-How many years have you been walling?
Have things over the years?
This last sort of 25 years, a lot of people learn how to do it,
even if they're not going to be professionals.
They're interested in maintaining traditional rural crafts.
While you're here,
if you just fancy finishing it down to the road, that'd be good for me!
As you drive around the countryside,
you see these miles of dry-stone walls, and I don't think
we think about the effort and work that went into putting them up. And still goes into it now.
Four hours in, and I think it's about time I found out how they choose the choice material.
How do you tell the difference between good and bad stone? Cos it's got a ring to it.
It has. Especially quality stone. Let's pick up a couple of pieces,
This is stone that is freshly quarried.
It has a higher-pitched sound to it, so you know that stone is good.
This is some stone we've taken from the wall behind us,
and you can see the laminations running through the stone.
Those pockets are there, cause a much more duller sound.
That stone is really useful for the skip.
You wouldn't even put this stone in the middle of the wall.
What are you looking for there?
I'm just seeing if all the stones are tight.
Especially when you've got little ones, like that.
-Ah! So that should be stuck in nice and tight?
-How are you getting on?
-Not too bad, nearly there.
It's looking really smart.
-I've got some money riding on you - that's looking pretty impressive.
-You haven't got any clear winners yet, then?
No, just have to wait a little bit longer.
THEY ALL LAUGH
Are you husband and wife?
Yes, we are. And we're still speaking to each other!
You don't end up throwing stones at one another?
No, we've heard it hurts!
These are the coping stones going on now, they go up vertical.
They act as a really good barrier to stop the sheep
jumping over the top of the wall and knocking it down.
That's it. Final whistle.
What happened? You haven't got your coping stones on.
-No, I ran out of time. 15 minutes short.
It must be so frustrating, because you worked so hard, and the wall looks great.
As long as it's right. There's no point going quicker because it wouldn't have been right.
-Are you going to stay and finish it off?
-Yes. I won't leave you with a hole in your wall.
Although some didn't finish in time,
everyone here has put their own individual stamp on a new stretch of Cotswold wall.
The only thing left is for the judges to pick their favourite bit.
The winner of this year's Cotswold Conservation Board dry-stone-walling competition,
professional class, is Andrew Mason.
Andrew Mason - aptly named - took top spot for his wall.
His sheer attention to detail in the early stages of the foundations certainly paid off.
I'm delighted with this. I've got 36 metres of brand-new walling.
Some good and some very good.
Even though I've been around dry-stone walls all my life,
today has been an insight into not only a craft, but an art.
Think of Lincolnshire, and the vision you're likely to conjure up
is one of crop-filled fields under big skies.
But when it comes to putting food on our plates,
it's got another claim to fame.
The county has a proud tradition of pork production.
About 100 years ago,
most families would have had a pig or two in the back yard.
They fed on scraps, so they were pretty easy and cheap to keep,
and when it came to the eating, you could use every single bit.
But Lincolnshire's most famous pork product is, of course, the sausage.
The renowned Lincolnshire sausage has been produced here
for well over 100 years, not on a commercial scale,
but as good old-fashioned, home-made grub to feed the family.
Terry and Jane Tomlinson are working to keep that artisan tradition alive.
-Are they hungry ladies?
Come on, girls.
Oh, stand back!
-They don't like it when you get in the way of breakfast.
-Well, quite. Who does? Let's be honest!
Their pig farm may be just a tad larger than the old-style family setup,
but they're staying true to the free-range tradition. The pigs live entirely outdoors,
sheltering and sleeping in these huts.
-And this is to keep it all nice and dry?
-Yes, so they clean their feet before they go into the huts.
-So what breed are these, Terry, these pigs?
-The pigs we have here, they're Duroc-cross-Landrace -
-that's why you get the different colours.
-Why those breeds?
The Duroc is a very, very hardy animal, fantastic mothers, and the eating quality's brilliant as well.
Their 72 sows have two litters a year,
so the farm has a constant flow of pigs of all ages.
Look how small they are!
These guys here are about a fortnight old.
They like to come out and do a bit of exploring,
but we like to keep them in for about the first fortnight.
If they're let out altogether, you get a lot of cross-suckling,
so the big boys get all the milk and the little ones get pushed out.
The farm produces 700 kilos of sausages a week,
which they sell at market.
Jane is obsessed with keeping the tradition of real Lincolnshire sausages alive.
So much so, that for the last seven years,
she's been backing a campaign to get them protected status under European law.
The PGI status is to protect the geographical indication of our Lincolnshire sausages,
which means they can only be made in Lincolnshire, and also, to protect the specification.
They're made like this. They're natural skins. They're coarse, open texture.
-They're not overly minced.
-Why does it matter to YOU to get PGI status?
It's part of our heritage, and stays within the county for generations to come.
I'm going to leave Jane and Terry to it now,
because I'm off to make a Lincolnshire sausage the old-fashioned way,
with a woman who's so passionate she's written a book about them!
Every family in Lincolnshire has its own closely guarded sausage recipe,
handed down through the generations,
but I found a lady who's prepared to divulge her family secrets...
local chef Rachel Green.
Come on, then, how do we do it?
You need some coarsely ground shoulder, rusk,
or it could be breadcrumbs, if you want. And I've got sage,
lots of, because that's what Lincolnshire sausages are about.
So, is this your secret?
Well, it is, actually, it's from my great-great-grandmother,
so there's one ingredient that people generally don't put into Lincolnshire sausages,
-and that is freshly ground nutmeg.
-I know. It's different.
-Quite a bit?
-Yeah, quite a bit.
And I remember, as a girl, you used to have pig parts on the side.
We kept pigs, obviously, and we'd make sausages,
and the head would be there, and the trotters there, and it would be a real family thing.
Making the sausages was the fun bit for me,
because I could relate to that as a girl. Get passionate with it.
-You got to really work hard at it.
-Harder, Ellie! Put your back into it.
Do you want to stuff a bit in, then, first?
The skins are made of pig intestines,
so the end product is entirely natural.
I'm doing Lincolnshire a very bad service here!
-Do you know why sausages are called "bangers"?
-Because of the way I made them?
No, after the Second World War, they put a lot more water in,
so the moment you cooked them, they'd explode.
Here we go. Brace yourselves!
-You've just got a bit of air in them.
-A bit of air!?
-A bit of air in the bottom!
-I'm so sorry, Lincolnshire.
Thankfully, I don't have to eat my handiwork. Rachel's got some of her own ready and waiting.
The best thing in the world - a really good Lincolnshire sausage before the dogs get it.
Mmm. You can taste that texture. And lots of sage. Mmm, really good.
-Thank you very much.
Now, in a moment, Matt will be at Sleaford Farmers' Market
finding out what locals think about the attempts to win protection for the county's humble sausage.
But first, the Countryfile weather forecast.
From the vast, flat fields of the fenlands
to the rural tranquillity further north, we're in Lincolnshire,
and we couldn't have come here at a better time,
cos it's Lincolnshire Day.
I'm getting into the swing of things.
With the help of a sat-nav that's got a real local lilt.
LINCOLNSHIRE ACCENT: 'After 300 yards, turn left.
'At the end of the road, turn right. Then turn right.'
I'm going to be meeting the man behind this voice a bit later on.
-'Cross the roundabout, third exit.'
-I think we're nearly there.
'You've landed, mate.'
And I've landed in the historic market town of Sleaford, on this rather special day.
Welcome, one and all, on this day, Lincolnshire Day!
Celebrating all things Lincolnshire.
Recently, Lincolnshire was voted Britain's favourite food county.
Wandering around Sleaford's Farmers' Market, it's easy to see why.
-I think it's a wonderful county.
And if you are going to celebrate it, it's got to be with its food.
We have a history in Lincolnshire of keeping ourselves to ourselves.
-We don't blow our own trumpet.
-You ring your own bell, though.
-We ring our own bell!
And we are proud of Lincolnshire.
Lincolnshire Day actually marks a very short-lived rebellion
against Henry VIII.
Well, it may not be the best excuse I've ever heard for a celebration,
but while I'm here, let's get into the swing of things by meeting a real-life yellowbelly.
I'm not being rude - that is apparently what they call the locals.
Remember that voice on the sat-nav?
Well, I'm about to meet the man himself.
Well, Farmer Wink, I have you to thank for getting me here safely and efficiently.
Did you come on sat-nav, mate?
-I did, even though I did think I was listening to the Scandinavian voice.
Your dialect and your accent and all of that,
it was born within the land and the fens.
STRONG LINCOLNSHIRE ACCENT: Oh, aye.
I've never changed, mate.
I still talk the same because I've gone to work in the morning
and I've got on my tractor and gone to work and never seen nobody all day, and I've gone home at night.
That's why I've never changed. I've never seen nobody to talk to.
I've lived here all my life. This is the first time I've ever been in Sleaford.
This is long-distance for me, 20 mile away from home!
-What do you think of it?
-It's all right, innit?
Will you be back?
Oh, I don't know about that.
'And Wink teaches me a few choice phrases.'
Don't go off the course when you're walking down here.
You'll get in all that scrad and blather.
Erm, don't veer from the preferred route,
because you're going to get covered in mud and water.
-Scrad and blather.
-Farmer Wink, it's been super. It really has.
-All the very best.
-All right. Seeing you ain't found no proper Lincolnshire stuff charn, are you?
Well, from one local speciality to another,
and I've just spotted Jane Tomlinson,
who Ellie visited earlier to find out about the true Lincolnshire sausage.
-Jane, it smells absolutely gorgeous over here.
-So these are the sausages that Ellie was packing
-Yes, our Lincolnshire sausages.
I thought it'd be nice if you wanted to give people some samples
-of a proper Lincolnshire sausage and see what they think.
-I'm just going to try that end bit.
-Just make sure they're not too hot.
-You enjoying that?
Right, let's get these little sausage samples out to the masses.
-I'm sure I'll be back very quickly. For more!
Would you like some sausage?
'With these plans to protect the status of the Lincolnshire sausage,
'just like the Cornish pasty, what do the locals make of a true Lincolnshire banger?'
Is that the best sausage that you've ever eaten?
-Would you like some of this?
-I like my Lincolnshire sausages.
-I'm not all that keen.
-Why do you say that?
-They're a bit spicy.
-OK, try that.
-It's jolly nice.
-Oh, lovely! We've got a convert.
You have, actually, yes.
As a retired pork butcher, what do you think of the news
that they're aiming for protected status?
It's a good idea. Should have happened a long time ago.
'I can see why the sausages are so popular, but now I've got a product of my own to show off.'
-Everybody, how are we doing? All right?
This is our brand-new Countryfile calendar for 2012.
I'm going to flick through the pictures. Tell me which ones you like.
-I like that.
-That was my personal favourite.
Ohh! On that note, you obviously like what you see, and if you like it too,
here's John with all the details of how you can get your hands on one.
The calendar costs £9, and a minimum of £4 from each sale
will go to Children In Need.
You can order it right now on our website.
Or you can call the order line.
You could also order by post. Send your name, address and cheque to...
Please make your cheques payable to BBC Countryfile Calendar.
Right, well, I've made my way round to the beer tent,
and what a great place to finish, because that is all we've got time for.
Next week, we'll be in rural Sussex,
discovering why one of its villages has two very different claims to fame. Hope you can join us then.
Right, what do you recommend?
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