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A largely rural county -
rolling countryside, quaint market towns and fertile farmland
all tucked away in the middle of England.
On this farm, it's all about the girls
and I'm not just talking about these ladies.
I'll be meeting the sisters keeping it very much in the family.
There you go, my dears.
Just over the county border in Rutland,
Julia's doing some DIY to give its birdlife a safe haven.
Otters are rioting along these shores.
They're muscling in on the birds' territory
and raiding their nests. This project is trying to ensure
that all the animals can live together more harmoniously.
And it's water, water everywhere... Or not, as John's been finding out.
Some parts of Britain are now experiencing the driest conditions
since that notorious summer drought of 1976. And farmers who desperately
rely on water for their crops will be among the first to suffer cutbacks.
I'll be asking, is that fair?
And newborns are springing up on Adam's farm,
but life's never straightforward.
Lambing has started on the farm,
and it's often at the beginning when you get problems.
This is a set of twins, one big one and one little one.
And the little one will need an extra bit of tender loving care.
And it's this time of year when you often get surprises.
In the heart of the Midlands, Leicestershire.
A county firmly rooted in the soil with more than 2,500 farms.
Neighbouring it to the east is Rutland, England's smallest county.
Surrounded by these rolling hills is this mixed arable and sheep farm.
The same family have been its tenants for 75 years.
But now, Dad is handing over the reins to his daughters.
Two of Phil Johnson's daughters work on the farm.
The third is a schoolteacher and helps out when she can.
Abigail and Faye are taking on
a traditionally male-dominated industry.
So were they always going to follow in dad's footsteps?
So was there a moment when you sat round the kitchen table
and said, "Right, we're going to go for this big-time?
"We're going to take over the farm and really make this thing work."
No, it just happened. We've always been interested in the farm
and it was just a natural progression that we carried on and worked
alongside Dad and carried on working on the farm with him.
-How long can you stay here?
-Hopefully, another 75 years.
-That's the plan?
-Yeah, we're tenant farmers,
and there's another succession on the tenancy, so the hope is that
one of us will be able to take the tenancy on for another lifetime.
The sisters farm more than 900 acres, alongside their father.
Phil is the second generation to farm here.
What does he make of it all?
Phil! How you doing?! I'm a bit of work stopper, me.
I'm sorry to interrupt. You have three daughters.
-Did you ever think that they'd take over the farm?
All my friends were young farmers.
They all had sons and none of them worked at home.
I've had three daughters and from being tots,
they've always enjoyed helping with the sheep.
-All took a tractor driving test at 16...
..and worked on the farms for their college years.
It's working well, as a family business?
It is, yes, we all get on really, really well.
Most of the farm is given over to arable crops,
but they also have a flock of commercial sheep.
As it's spring, Abigail is in the middle of lambing.
-So, then this basically is your domain, then?
-Kind of the shepherdess side of things.
I took over the sheep farm.
Dad used to be the main shepherd and I've always been interested,
-so I tend to look after the sheep side of things now.
With help from Faye as and when it's needed.
We work together, but it's mainly me that looks after them.
It is a very busy time for a shepherdess, lambing,
but it's more complicated for you, as you don't live here any more.
We don't. We live a few miles away, with my partner.
But we manage it. We're normally here by 7:30 in the morning,
and if there's any problems earlier than that, Mum will give me a call.
If we have two stay an odd night, then we do.
You've got very neat numbers as well, I have to say. Very nice.
Well, I do all the accounts on the farm and I'm very particular
with my numbers there, so I like to be able to see them from a distance.
My mum, she's exactly the same.
She says there's nothing worse than squiggly numbers on the side.
It must be a girl thing.
These little ones have arrived in the last few weeks.
And another is already on its way.
Looks like this is coming out perfectly. There's two little feet.
And the nose will follow in that little diving position.
And there we go.
Amazing how instinctively Mum just cleans off the face,
-cleans the airways and then...
-Yeah, Mother Nature is amazing.
And that will be up and sucking in a few minutes time,
-which I find quite phenomenal.
-It is indeed. A good little size.
Casting a shadow over lambing this year is the Schmallenberg virus.
It arrived in the UK from northern Europe
and causes birth defects in livestock.
Obviously, the Schmallenberg virus
is on the mind of all sheep farmers at the moment.
-Were you on tenterhooks starting with your lambing?
Yeah, well, it's always a concern.
And obviously, it's getting closer, it's not too far away from here now,
so you sort of just hope for the best and we're just relieved
we've not had it yet, and hope that it doesn't get as far as us.
Whilst Abigail is busy lambing, Faye is out in the fields.
Their main crop is wheat. But the sisters have decided to expand
and grow crops for their birdseed business, too.
-How are you doing, Faye?
-Good to see you.
Right, let's go fertiliser spreading, shall we?
How many acres of arable have you got, then?
We've got about 800 acres of arable here,
all around the reservoir.
-Enough to keep you busy, then.
Now, many would refer to tractors and combines
-and stuff like that as boys' toys.
-But how do you get on with it?
You've got a massive smile on your face.
Yeah, no, yes, I really enjoy it. I'm not a machinery geek,
but as long as it works well and does the job, I enjoy it.
I do like the agronomy side of the job,
so it's interesting to drive over a field,
and you can see all the areas of the crop
-and how it's growing at how it's doing.
So of all the machinery that you have,
what do you enjoy driving the most?
In the summer, I do enjoy doing the combining. It's a good job.
When you've looked after the crop all year,
-it's nice to be able to combine it and see how well it's done.
The beauty of the area is not lost on the sisters.
They're keen to encourage people on to the farm to share the experience.
He'll come and eat it, hopefully.
Phil and the girls hold their open farm days, and this morning,
the local primary school are learning about lambing.
-Now then, who cuts your toenails?!
-Has she got any clippers like that?!
Well, these are really proper sheep ones.
-Just have a look. You'll see.
My favourite thing was the eggs.
-Who else would like an egg?
-You get an egg as well.
-Is it a boiled one?!
-Is it warm?
-That's really warm!
-That means that one has just been laid.
The sisters' farm surrounds the Eyebrook Reservoir.
It's man-made, built to supply water to the nearby steelworks.
It also doubles up as an important fishing ground.
And later on, I'll be down at the water's edge,
helping to restock the reservoir with fish,
but first, many of us take a ready supply of water for granted.
But there are people in Britain at the moment
who are struggling to get what they need.
John has been to find out why.
Well, now, more about the water shortage that threatens
a large part of the country this summer
unless there's an awful lot of rain in the next few weeks.
The summer of '76, a year when the world's most important commodity,
water, was running at an all-time low here in the UK.
Save water and bath with a friend
was one of the messages as the drought took hold.
It was a time of forest fires,
of failed crops
and of rivers running dry.
Much of the nation had to resort to standpipes.
Now, with predictions of the worst drought to hit this country
for well over 30 years, are we about to see a repeat of the summer of '76?
Good morning, madam, we're from Essex Water Authority.
There's a drought on at the moment,
and we're asking consumers to conserve water wherever possible.
Richard Thompson from the Environment Agency
certainly sees a cause for concern.
Just how serious is the situation?
What we have just experienced in some parts of the country,
particularly the East and Southeast,
is one of the driest years on record.
River levels are very low and groundwater,
the underground supply of water which is held within rocks,
that's currently very low as well, and it's declining as we speak.
But that doesn't seem to stop water still being taken
from our valuable rivers.
It's a process known as abstraction and the trouble is, everyone's at it.
Water companies, power stations, industry and, of course, farmers -
all get at least some of their supply straight from rivers.
But in order to abstract, you need a licence, and the job of issuing
and policing these falls to the Environment Agency.
There are conditions which require people to stop abstracting,
if rivers fall below a certain level.
That's to protect the environment.
It's also to protect downstream users,
so no one person can take all the water from the river
and have it all for themselves.
Who loses out first when there's a short supply?
It's farmers who are impacted first by drought,
but as the drought moves on,
everyone is affected and that's why everyone needs to play a role
in helping us to manage drought and using water wisely.
We've got a good one from Guy here. He's got two lovely slogans.
"Think before you drink". "Don't rush to flush".
Of all the water that gets abstracted, getting on for 60%
goes to the power companies and all kinds of industry.
And then around 40% goes to the water companies
and much of that is used by the likes of you and me.
Which leaves just one percent for farmers.
Unlike water and power companies,
the farming industry does not get protected supplies,
which is why it's the first to feel cutbacks when water is short.
Ultimately, that could affect all of us by pushing up the price of food.
Andrew Blenkiron manages a farm in Suffolk,
where they're already feeling the squeeze.
Well, if the drought continues in the way it is at the moment,
what impact is that going to have on your crops this year?
As you can see, John, from behind us,
we're planting onions in this field. We also plant carrots and potatoes,
and we've already made the decision
to reduce our area of irrigated crops by 20%, that's some 200 acres.
But what about your cereal crops?
The consequences of the drought last year were to reduce the yield
to about 30% of an average year, so significant reduction.
With so many more households than farms in the UK,
even a small decrease in the water we use
could make a big difference to farmers.
Hosepipe bans in some parts of the country will help,
but could we go even further?
Judging by that gauge, the level here is seriously low.
Yeah, here we're probably seeing water depths of around six inches,
and typically at this time of year, it'd be about the two foot mark,
so it's low for this time of the year.
Isn't it possible to reduce the amount that water companies take
to give more to other people like farmers?
We're very much driven by the demand from customers.
Typically, our average household consumption
is about 160 litres per person per day,
and we're doing a number of initiatives at the moment
to try to get people to use that little bit less,
spend a little less time in the shower,
use the washing machine a little bit less,
turn the tap off when brushing their teeth,
trying to drive down that consumption
to something about 135 litres per person per day.
That's not saying we won't do our bit.
We've been working to drive leakage down as low as possible,
and we're now at our lowest level we've ever reached,
and so we'll continue to work hard on that,
but we're asking our customers to think about how they use water.
And that'll mean more for everyone to go round.
But does even more need to be done to free up water for farmers?
After all, not all of the UK is suffering from a shortage.
The National Farmers Union certainly thinks so.
But just how many farmers are being affected by the drought?
Very many, John. Thousands, I would say.
Particularly in the Southeast, particularly in East Anglia.
And of course, they have no guarantee of water supplies, do they?
Absolutely not. They're last in the pecking order.
They're the last to get the water and the first to have it cut off
when people think there isn't enough.
How do you see the future? Especially if drought conditions continue.
Our farmers and growers are already looking at their planting options
at the moment, changing their planting options, reducing them.
How do you mean planting options?
Well, whether they plant thirsty crops or less thirsty crops,
whether they go into biomass rather than potatoes, for instance.
So we know that some of the planting this year's been reduced,
specifically to take account of the drought conditions this year.
So do you think the government now should take into account
-the special needs of these farmers?
-I think that's absolutely essential.
We need food security in this country
and we need to increase our production
with the less impact on the environment.
We can't do that if all of our inputs are reduced
and water is one of the most critical ones.
As we've heard, restricted water supply to farmers
could mean lower yields and costlier food.
So ultimately, we'll pay the price of we don't cut down on our own usage.
Is there a better way of making what we have got go further?
I hope to have some answers in a few minutes' time.
I'm just a few miles away from Matt, across the border in Rutland.
It's dominated by a sprawling watery mass.
At 3,200 acres, Rutland Water is the largest man-made reservoir
in northern Europe.
That's about the size of 3,500 football pitches.
And on its western edge, a haven for wildlife.
This is one of the most important wildfowl sanctuaries
in Great Britain.
There are over 20,000 birds found on the reserve all year round,
it is a birdwatcher's paradise.
It's an area I know quite well, because I grew up just over there.
You thought I was looking at the birds.
I'm actually spying on my dad.
As back gardens go, this one is pretty special.
The reservoir has loads going for it, an abundance of wildlife.
It's a Site Of Special Scientific Interest,
and is internationally recognised as an important wetland site.
Like many places across the Southeast of England,
water levels here have dropped to an all-time low.
I have rarely seen the banks here so exposed.
You would think this would be a threat to the wildlife here,
but thanks to a pioneering project, it had little impact on the habitat.
I'm catching up with Andy Brown from Anglian Water to find out more.
Hi, Andy. What is this lovely structure here?
You're looking at a reservoir inside a reservoir.
The project was about providing habitat for 12,000 birds
that might be displaced as water levels drop in the reservoir.
So there are lagoons within the main body of the reservoir,
and what we have done outside is created mini-reservoirs
in themselves, a series of them across Rutland Water.
Those provide the feeding habitat, nesting habitat
and sanctuary for all those birds.
The lagoons work independently of the main reservoir,
but with water currently such a precious resource,
they have to be carefully managed.
What's special about these lagoons
is they can be switched on and off like a tap,
creating different habitats for the birdlife here.
By drawing water off in this way,
mud, vegetation and tasty worms will be exposed. Delicious.
I'm off to one of the best birding spots
to see why they like it here so much with reserve manager Tim Appleton.
Big surprise now, be prepared.
If you can open the window, that'd be brilliant, that's great.
Look at that! It's beautiful, isn't it?
Most of the birds we will see today are resident birds.
Looking around we've got gadwall, shoveler,
tufted ducks, lots of swans,
but in another three weeks' time,
I'll be lowering the water level just a bit,
and each of these islands are interlinked with a muddy spit,
so lowering the water means there will be sacks of food for them.
How do you design a set of lagoons
so they fulfil all your requirements?
First, you need to know what birds need.
The habitats are critical to attract birds that might go elsewhere.
You need to have shallow water for waders,
virtually no trees if you can avoid it,
because trees mean that predators can sit on there.
You have to have certain islands that have shingles for nesting,
things like oystercatchers, ringed plovers... They're loving it.
We are getting all these new species,
we have had these avocets breeding for the first time.
Five pairs turned up last spring.
I'm slightly biased,
but it must be the best inland site for birds in Britain.
Conservation efforts have proved so successful here
that Tim and his team of volunteers
are almost victims of their own success.
What have we got here?
You'll not believe what we're doing here,
we have a major problem with otters, and it's a great problem to have.
Everyone wants otters on their nature reserve.
But otters, terns, baby birds, don't mix.
In fact, if you grab this end, we can help the girls.
To protect the birds, these floating platforms were built last year,
but the nocturnal predators were climbing aboard
and using them as floating restaurants,
having a nibble at whatever they could get their paws on.
But this year, they have revamped the design.
Hopefully, these panels on the side
will deter even the most athletic of otters.
I don't know about the otters getting on,
it's difficult for the humans to get off.
The tricky bit is towing them out into the middle of the lagoon,
especially when the boat you're using looks like a floating skip.
-Are we off?
'And it's my job to hang on to the tow rope.'
Hang on. Let go!
'I think this one's grounded.'
Don't worry, I've got it! It's absolutely fine.
'Finally, one hopefully otter-proof platform for the birds to nestle in.
'And the close monitoring of water levels in the lagoons
'should keep those birds afloat, even though the reservoir is low.'
Coping with low water levels is not just an issue here in Rutland,
climate change, coupled with a growing population,
means that water shortages are only going to get worse.
So what's the solution? John's been asking the questions.
Many parts of the UK, especially the Southeast,
are facing the worst drought since the summer of 1976.
But at the moment, there are no standpipes in the street,
no need for shared baths or unflushed toilets.
So far this time, as far as household water is concerned,
the worst that is happening is a hosepipe ban.
But for other users of water, it's a very different story.
'Farmers are often blamed for using too much water,
'but the truth is that, compared with the rest of us,
'they're comparatively frugal.
'On average, they use one percent of the national supply.
'Andrew Blenkiron has been told
'to stop taking water from a local river,
'so farmers like him are now being forced to find other ways
'of boosting their supplies.'
This is a huge investment, isn't it?
Your very own reservoir for the farm.
Yes, John, combined with the pipes we have got underground of 18 miles,
this cost £1.5 million to build five years ago.
It must be disheartening to see it so low, judging by these markers.
That is incredible, it's down at nine metres, the top is 14 metres.
How high should it be?
If you keep walking up there, I'll tell you when to stop.
Keep going a bit further. There, that is where it is.
-This is how high your reservoir should be?
-14 metres, yes.
That is 110 million gallons.
What about the future? What are your hopes and fears?
My hopes very much are that agriculture gets
a continuity of water supply, a guarantee of water,
after all, we have to guarantee our customers, the supermarkets,
that we will give them a good, consistent product.
My fears are that we get a series of long, dry summers,
and even drier winters,
and we can't build our water into the reservoirs.
And then your crops really will suffer.
We won't be able to plant them, it is really that simple.
'Unless there are some significant changes,
'farmers in drought-stricken areas simply will not be able
'to produce as much food, pushing up prices.
'Things are only going to get worse.'
For a start, climate change means that droughts are likely
to become a much more common occurrence in the future,
and farmers will increasingly have to invest in expensive
irrigation equipment like this.
But add to that the fact that the prediction is
by the middle of the century,
there will be a 35% increase in demand for water,
and the problem goes way beyond farming.
This current drought has prompted calls for long-term action,
the Environment Agency has already put forward wide-ranging proposals.
For farmers, it wants a more flexible system,
taking away some automatic restrictions
such as a ban on abstraction during the warmer months of the year.
In the short term, we are proposing more flexibility for farmers,
so what we are doing is allowing them to take water in summer
to fill up their storage reservoirs if flows are high
Even during a drought, we might get a day or two of rain,
and a short-term high flow in the river.
We'll be on the phone to the farmer
first thing in the morning to say,
"Here is an opportunity to take water,
"take it while the flows are high, cos it won't last long."
That way, we can make best use of what water is available.
The Environment Agency's ideas are expected to become a major part
of the government's new water legislation
when it's put forward later this year.
What else it will include is up for debate, but it could well contain
some measures designed to make all of us use less water in our homes.
But some groups feel it won't go far enough.
Friends Of The Earth believes the problem is constantly getting worse,
but governments only react when faced with a drought.
For 10 or 15, 20 years, different governments have held water
or drought summits, and in between we just go on carrying on consuming
too much water, so the lack of consistent messaging from ministers
really betrays a lack of urgency around this issue.
What should have happened?
This is where government has to come into this,
look at the way we build houses,
also retrofit old houses, as they're the majority of the housing stock,
which is terribly inefficient, the way we use water.
We have to look at the fact
we are pouring concrete on our countryside,
leading to flash flooding when it rains,
we have to look at individual households,
the way businesses operate and use water.
It is a whole stack of issues that again, need consistent action,
rather than just a bit of a panic-button measure,
when the mainstream media talks about hosepipe bans,
that's just not much of a policy.
'Should the government be thinking even more radically
'when it comes to the future of water?'
I've been hearing from people who say the present abstraction system
is both out of date and unfair.
-What's your answer to that?
-I think they are right.
It was designed in the 1960s,
before we were ever conscious of climate change
or the impact it could have on us,
the weather patterns we are now facing.
Is the new legislation going to make things fairer,
especially to farmers?
We want to make sure there's an abstraction regime fit for today,
that recognises that farmers do a really important job
for this country and economy, they keep us fed,
we're really concerned about food security.
So, yes, we want an abstraction system that works for them,
is relevant to them, not relevant to the 1960s.
How, as a nation, are we going to cut back on our need for water?
-Hit them in the pocket?
-There are so many things we can do.
We're following what Southern Water have been doing
in terms of the universal metering,
we don't think metering is the answer to the whole problem.
It's about encouraging water companies to work with customers
to show how they can actually reduce their household bills
quite dramatically, by changing fittings,
shower fittings, that sort of thing.
How they can use less water in their daily activities.
There is no doubt there'll have to be major changes
if farmers are going to get the water they need.
If they don't,
British food production will suffer, and that will affect all of us.
But who is going to give up some of their supply
so that farmers can get theirs?
That's a question any new legislation on water has to address.
Later on tonight's Countryfile, Adam is giving his Highlands a haircut.
Matches mine. Beautiful.
Julia's on a gastronomic journey.
I'm in a place that claims to be the rural capital of food,
quite a bold statement.
Wherever you're heading in the week ahead,
you cannot afford to miss our five-day forecast.
Deep within the Leicestershire countryside,
there is something growing
you probably wouldn't expect to see in these parts.
Willow. Five acres of it.
Eight years ago, Annette Bridges decided to give up city life
to work the land.
She's turned her back garden into a field of willow.
Was it easy getting started?
It was a slow process, just immersed myself in everything willow,
read everything I could possibly read,
researched as much as possible on the types of people that would use it.
Today, Annette is cutting an order for a hedge layer.
It's all done by hand!
It is, a very bespoke service for some of the hedge layers,
who all have little likes or preferences.
Some like them thicker, some like them more slender. It just depends.
-How about this one, is it all right?
-That is great.
How many stems will you take out during your harvesting season?
Oh, my goodness, thousands.
Me chopping these five isn't really giving you much of a hand?
-No, but it all helps.
-Every little bit.
And your harvesting takes place through the winter?
Yes, from leaf-fall to about the end of March depending on conditions.
People seem to think we harvest all through the summer,
and have this fluffy-bunny lifestyle when I'm out gardening
in lovely weather, but, no, it is gruelling at times.
Willow is incredibly versatile, because it is so bendy.
International artist Tom Hare can't get enough of the stuff.
He sculpts on a grand scale,
and has challenged me to have a go at making a simple sphere.
It is incredible stuff, let me add
another one in and you will see how the structure starts to build up.
So if you carry on now with this one, winding that around...
Keep going round, that's grand. How long have you been doing this?
-Around 15 years.
-Wow. What sort of things influenced your work?
What do you decide to make?
Well, I guess I'm inspired mainly by nature.
The key thing is kind of magnifying detail,
like a child picking up small little things, like shells,
and seeds, and scaling them into sort of giant pieces.
Is that the idea? That you always make them bigger than real life?
Yeah. Yeah. And I like that particularly, because it gives you,
as a sort of viewer, a childlike approach to the piece,
because it is, "Whoa, look how big and that is."
Like that behind you. That sycamore seed. That's a whopper.
-There were two of these, opposing each other,
so you get this kind of lovely helicopter frame in the air.
-Oh, that's cool.
-I think, kind of, joining them together,
-we'll place this one inside.
And then that makes ourselves a nice structure to weave around.
-Is there any limit to the scale of what you can make?
-I don't think so.
It is a remarkable material, and what I tend to do,
to give a good structure, is to build a steel frame.
-I have one here.
This is a kind of work in progress, so, you see the B-form is
created with lines of steel, which gives it its strength and shape.
And then we can work with the nice coloured willows
-to create the movement.
So, actually, this is all natural, that's not coloured in any way?
No, no, absolutely. These are willows from Annette,
and that gives it a nice kind of orangey colour.
They started off their life a little more yellowy,
but as they season they go these lovely kind of orangey colours.
-That's great, isn't it?
-The steamed one here,
this is a willow that's been boiled for a couple of hours,
and then that's really good for re-soaking in the summertime.
25 minutes later, and I'm pretty pleased with my work.
There you go.
Look, my small contribution to willow art,
perhaps better put to a more practical use
that I hope will be appreciated.
Twycross Zoo covers 80 acres of Leicestershire countryside.
It's the largest centre for primates in Europe.
A large part of the zoo's work is conservation
and research into animal welfare.
Part of that research is to observe how the animals interact,
and that's where my willow ball comes in.
'The willow balls are for enrichment.
'As the animals are captive-bred, they're encouraged to be busy,
'both physically and mentally. The more of a challenge, the better.
'Living collection curator Charlotte MacDonald,
'has been hiding food inside the willow spheres for the bonobos.'
OK, so now we need to put them in.
We'll throw them, but we need to walk along
and throw them in at different points.
So everybody has a chance of getting some.
-Spread them out. So one at a time.
-One at a time.
-This is like netball. Which I was never very good at.
-See how you go.
-There we go, not too bad.
-Oh, sorry, rolled down.
There's been some takers. Oh, look at this! They're straight for them.
-Just made it in. There we go, into the waterfall.
-Cheeky tomato's fallen out.
-There we go.
And you'll noticed that some of the bonobos, oh, look,
trying to grab more than one!
-That's why we need lots.
-Brilliant. That is why we need lots.
OK. There you go.
-So, this one's eating willow, is that to be expected?
In the summer, we feed them willow
as part of their browse ration, anyway.
We feed them fresh browse.
In the wild, they would eat leaves and trees.
'11 weeks ago, there was a new arrival in the bonobo camp.
'Lopori has been living indoors, and as a newcomer to the group,
'I'm wearing a mask and gloves to protect her
'from any outside germs.'
So, what are the plans for her?
Presumably she can't stay with humans for the rest of her life?
You're right. She can't. What we'll do, and we've already started this,
is we're going to gradually put her back into her family group.
So, every day, during the day, she's here with them,
she is not in beside them, but she's right beside them,
through this mesh,
and they can touch her, she sees them, she hears them,
she's already responding to their vocalisations and stuff,
and they know her, and she knows them.
Every baby bonobo is vital.
They are endangered in the wild,
the captive population is small but growing steadily.
We breed them very well here at Twycross.
We've already got two slightly older infants here at the moment,
so she will certainly have friends to play with
when she does go back into the group.
And it won't be too long before Lopori
becomes an integral part of the bonobo group here.
Now, down on Adam's farm, the first lambs of the year are being born.
But not everything goes smoothly,
and you may find some scenes upsetting.
Over the next two months,
around 1,200 lambs will be born on the farm,
and it's just getting started.
We are three or four days off lambing,
and it's always now that you get quite a few problems,
so, premature, early-born lambs that are undersized.
And these are triplets here,
this is the first time this Cotswold has given birth,
ideally, it would have been good for her if she just had one,
so we've got them under heat-lamp to try and make sure they're OK.
We've been giving them a bit of extra grub.
They're looking all right.
We've got a ewe that lambing over here, against the back wall.
You can tell when they're about to start lambing -
they become very restless.
They stand up, walk around, lie back down, stand back up again.
This is a ewe we've had lots of problems with. She's very lean.
I back she put in with the ewes that are having twins,
that are getting extra food.
She's lambing prematurely, and it looks like this lamb is dead.
That is definitely dead.
What's happened is, it's come out head-first and no feet forward.
This is a sad reality of lambing, really,
you occasionally get ones that are born dead.
It's all a bit gruesome,
but I have to do this for the benefit of the ewe,
the lamb's got to come out.
With a bit of help, it does. And the mother's soon back on her feet.
It's the first time she's ever given birth,
so sadly, she'll go away without a lamb this time,
but we'll keep her in the flock and try her again next year.
One of the major things we've got keep an eye on this lambing
is the new virus, Schmallenberg, which causes deformities in lambs,
and goat kids, and calves.
And I'm 100% sure that dead lamb didn't have Schmallenberg.
The ewe was sick during her pregnancy,
and we will get a certain percentage of stillborn lambs,
but as lambing gets underway, we'll have to be particularly vigilant,
and just hope this disease doesn't rear its ugly head on our farm.
But it's not all bad news, and despite the setbacks,
the lambing shed echoes to the patter of tiny feet.
Spring is one of the busiest times in the arable year, too.
Over the past few weeks, we've been spreading fertiliser and ploughing.
Now it's time for planting.
Some of the crops on the farm were planted last autumn,
like the oilseed rape in the valley there,
and then the wheat in those fields over there,
but this field is about to be planted with spring barley.
It used to make beer, and a couple of months ago,
I followed some of last year's harvest all the way to Germany.
This year, though,
some of my barley's going to be a bit different.
A company which gives me agricultural advice
is using the farm to trial different seed varieties.
On a typical foggy Cotswold morning, agronomist Ollie Fairweather
and his team are ready to get started.
Goodness, lots of different coloured bags,
how many varieties are you planting today?
Today we've got 15 different varieties,
and four different seed dressings on them.
So the seed dressing coats over the seed,
-and then that protects it from disease?
-It does, yes.
This one here protects it from disease,
but then as you move through these dressings -
you've got manganese here, which is a nutrition dressing,
take off, which is a phosphite-based seed dressing,
which helps with rooting.
From all of this, what would you be able to gather
when you combine it in the summer?
Hopefully, we'll be able to pick out
if there's any differences between the varieties in terms of the yield.
Do they cope better with moisture stress?
If we hit a dry spring like we did last year.
And also, do any of the seed dressings help, in turn,
make a farmer more money?
In all, there'll be 26 separate plots,
each with a different combination of seed type and dressing.
The great thing about using consultants like Ollie
is that they've got the expertise
and the knowledge to do the research and development
in modern-day farming that farmers haven't really got the time to do.
And we need to use that technology to push farming on,
raise our yields in a responsible way.
As the fog lifts, attention turns to my cattle,
which need to be moved into their summer pastures.
First up are the Highlands, and Dad's come along to help out.
Well, this is a real treat for me. Cattle bumping.
Do you reckon they'll come if you call them?
Well, I could try it, yeah.
If not, you could nip around them, and I'll stand here and call them!
Great! I'll get my running legs on. I'll try it. Come on then!
Come on! Come on! Come on!
-Come on then!
Come on! Come on!
-Not a hope. Looks like I've got to run down the hill.
-Looks like it.
-Come, come, come, come on!
Come on! Come on! Come on! Come on!
Hey! Go on then!
Hey, hey, hey. Go on then!
-So is that Eric's calf?
-No. That's by the old bull,
but all the other four cows are pregnant by Eric.
-They should start calving in the next few weeks.
-Which is why we are taking them home.
So we've got them closer to the farm buildings.
Come on, Eric. Good boy.
ADAM WHISTLES REPEATEDLY
Come on, lovely girls.
It's going to need a couple of trips
with a trailer to move them right across the farm,
so I'm putting them in the pens first,
which is a good chance for some grooming.
All the cows have got big yellow tags in their ears.
But they're so hairy, that you can't read their tag numbers,
and when they calf, we need to know who is who.
So I'll give them a bit of a haircut,
and trim the hair around their tags.
These cows have got quite long horns,
and they know exactly where the ends of them are,
so you have to be a bit careful that she doesn't swing it around
and hit me.
Long hair. Matches mine, look.
Haircut over, and I can load them up.
But not everyone's coming.
We're going to leave old Eric out in the field here,
because once the cows calf, they'll come back into season,
ready to be mated, and to get pregnant again by Eric,
and we don't want them calving until the spring time next year,
and the gestation period's nine months,
so he'll go back in with them about June-July time.
Eric doesn't look best pleased to be separated from his wives,
but we're leaving one later-calving heifer with him,
to keep him company.
Come on, ladies.
Now that spring's here, the grass is starting to grow,
and the cattle will love that spring grass.
It will bring them to plenty of milk for their newborn calves,
and they'll just thrive during the summer.
But if my Highlands are enjoying the change of scene,
I can't wait to see what the other cattle I'm turning out
are going to make of it all - my Irish Moileds.
These cows have been inside for five or six months now,
and the calf was born in the cattle sheds,
so it's always really lovely to turn them out into the spring grass
and see how they react.
Look at the big, wide world.
It's really lovely to see them get the spring in their step,
even that old cow who's got the calf at foot is getting excited
and skipping about.
Really lovely to see them stretch their legs
and get back out to grass.
Next week, I'll be taking a trip to Devon,
as the lambing season gets into full swing.
Leicestershire is largely a farming county.
I've been helping out sisters Abigail and Fay,
who work the land around the Eyebrook Reservoir.
This reservoir is privately owned.
It was built to supply water to the nearby steelworks,
which it still does.
But these days, it's better known for its angling.
There are five miles of bank surrounding 400 acres of water,
but it's what's below the surface that I've come to see.
So, Andy, when did the reservoir become a fishery?
It opened to the public as a fishery in 1952,
but prior to that,
it was a private fishery for the steel workers in Corby.
-It was stocked with brown trout and they'd finish their shifts
over a hot furnace
and end up down here on their bicycles at the Eyebrook,
fishing for brown trout.
In 1952, it opened to the public
and numbers of rainbow trout were introduced then.
So how many will you put in, then, of the rainbow trout?
We put in upwards to 35,000 trout per season
-and the season consists from March to the end of November.
The man who supplies many of those new trout is Jamie Weston.
He hatches and farms them just up the road in Rutland,
on the River Gwash.
-These fish, they're averaging about three and a half pounds.
-How old would they be, then?
-These were eggs in February 2010.
They're absolutely gorgeous colours, aren't they?
They're well spotted, as you can see.
-They've got a nice purple stripe down the lateral line.
-Big tails on them.
How do you grab them? They're just...
-They're just so slippery.
How do you do that, then?
I just got a face-full of water.
Wahey! See you later!
That's what we're looking at.
Something like that - big dorsal.
And what we want to try and do
is create a fish which looks as close to a wild fish as possible.
They're only a couple of years old.
-We've imported the eggs in from America.
Erm... The actual type of strain is a steelhead strain.
-They're renowned for hard-fighting, big-tailed fish.
Lean, muscular, which is what we're all about.
You can certainly see that. They have a lot of life in them.
They have indeed, yeah.
First one's out, stand by, here they come. Woo-hoo!
Massive one, that.
There they go.
'As they're such slippery customers,
'the quickest way is to let them slide out.'
OK, that's that.
'So, plenty of fresh pickings for the new season.'
In a moment, Julia will be tantalising her taste buds
with some of Leicestershire's finest food.
But first, here's the Countryfile weather forecast for the week ahead.
'Leicestershire, the heart of rural England.
'Lush, green pasture.
'While Matt's been looking at how the landscape is farmed,
'I'm finding out how agriculture
'has shaped the produce it's become famed for.'
I'm in a place that claims to be the rural capital of food -
quite a bold statement.
Melton Mowbray, an area that's earned the title
thanks to its two gastronomic greats - pork pies,
and oh-so-stinky Stilton cheese.
And today, I'll be creating the perfect local picnic
as I explore the area's food heritage.
But it's foodie accolades owe a lot to its farming past,
as this Ministry Of Information film from the 1940s shows.
'The reason's in the land.
'It was too heavy to plough in the old days.
'Too heavy, that is, for anything less than a four-horse team.
'But, mind you, it does make very good milk
'and the best cheese in the world -
Stilton is still very much at the heart of the community.
A quick costume change
and I'm getting stuck in at one of only six dairies in the world
licensed to make bona fide Stilton cheese,
just as they have been for the past 150 years.
Although I'm feeling a bit more washer woman than dairy maid.
-Hello, how are you?
-All right, thank you.
What do you do up here?
We're generally just turning the cheese.
What does it do in terms of the texture of the cheese
and the blue as well?
It keeps the shape and keeps the fats level in the cheese -
keeps them nice and even along the tops.
And how many of these do you turn a day?
Basically it's four and a half tonnes per person, per day.
-Four and a half tonnes a day?!
That's an incredible number.
'Authentic Stilton can only be made
'in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire,
'and this is the smallest dairy licensed to do so.
'I have to admit, I'm not a fan, but the rest of the world definitely is.
'This dairy export around 80% of what they make,
'to places like Australia, America and Asia.'
As Matt Baker would say, "Amazing."
-Speaking of Matt, can I take a bit for him to taste?
-You can, yeah.
'If this place really is the rural capital of food,
'you've got to taste the goods.
'Matt can have a nibble later.'
What a wonderfully proper, old-fashioned, traditional dairy.
Producers in Melton have always been resourceful - nothing went to waste.
'And what's left of what's used for cheese
'is used for pigs.
'Plenty of whey for the pigs.
'The fat of the land and plenty left over.
'Fine, fat pigs and fine, fat cattle, too,
'feeding on the fattest grass in Britain.'
And what do you do when you've got too many fine, fat pigs?
You make a pork pie, of course. It IS Melton Mowbray.
That's a lot of pies.
Not only were the pigs fattened up on leftovers from the cheese-making,
they also ate the spoils from local windmills.
Miller Nigel Moon and his mother, Ruth,
keep the area's foodie heritage going
in the most traditional of ways.
Holy badger! What's going on above us, around us?
Basically, this floor is what's known as the dressing floor.
All these big boxes contain a drum inside with holes in
and that wholemeal flour is fed through
and the finer flour goes through the finer holes
and then it takes out...
It takes off the coarse bits of flour.
-There we go.
-That's the bran.
-And that's taken off
to make our white version of the flour.
And there is white powder everywhere.
I mean, on every single... Look up there.
Everything is coated in flour.
-Including me now!
-There you are, my dear.
-Thank you very much. Thanks, Nigel.
As well as the wheat growing above ground,
there are also riches beneath - ironstone.
Farmers and quarrymen often worked side by side
to reap the rewards that the land had to offer.
This little building used to be a power station
that fuelled the ironstone quarrying.
These days, it fuels the county with gastro goodies.
'I'm meeting fourth-generation baker Julian Carter,
'to make a local loaf for Matt and I to eat later,
'using flour from Nigel's windmill
'and beer yeast from the local brewery.'
-How old do you think the recipe is?
-It goes back a long way.
Beer yeast and flour was obviously always milled in the local area.
And then beer yeast...
There was always breweries next to bakeries,
so you used to get your yeast from your brewery
and make your bread straight away.
'Once mixed, the dough has to prove,
'but in true TV style,
'Julian has some he prepared early.'
There we go.
Lovely, that's better. As you can see, this has been kneaded.
Obviously, this hasn't been kneaded yet.
So we normally rest this for 20 minutes,
knead it into a dough, then allow that to double in size.
You can see the big pockets of gas that have come up in the dough.
-The dough's got a lovely stretch to it.
-And it's so light as well!
-It is, yeah, and that's what you're looking for.
-That is just wonderful!
After kneading and proving for a second time,
the loaves go into the wood-fired oven for 30 minutes.
-If you push that towards the centre of the oven.
'From farm, to mill, to bakery,
'this bread is truly local.'
'Now I'm all set for my Leicestershire picnic
'and I've got a couple of special guests lined up for Matt -
'my dad and the newest addition to the Bradbury clan.'
-Ah-ha, Baker boy!
-Dinner is served!
This, my love, is Leicestershire...
I was going to say on a plate, but it's a board, isn't it?
-This is delicious. Taste that.
-I tell you, it looks good.
This is a recipe that dates back hundreds of years.
Look at the consistency...
Look at that. Taste that! You're going to like that.
-Isn't that delicious?
This Stilton, 18 weeks mature, very lovely.
The trouble is, I hate Stilton, so I've got you a little surprise,
I've brought you a Stilton taster.
Hello, and Zeph!
-Here we go.
-I've brought you a baby as well.
-Wowzers, little man.
It's lovely to see you.
-Right, Dad, you can taste the Stilton.
-As you are the Stilton king.
-There we are, look.
-There you go.
Oh, I like that. Have you got room there, Michael, shall I move over?
-There we go.
-What are you thoughts on that?
I would say it's delicious.
You need some of your daughter's bread to go with it.
Have a bit of that, Dad.
Well, that's it from my home turf, Leicestershire and Rutland.
What do you think about Zeph - cameraman or presenter?
He's after the cheese. I think he'd be a perfect taster on Masterchef.
You'd give John Torode and Gregg Wallace a run for their money.
Well, I've shown you mine this week.
It's been absolutely delightful, it really has.
As you have shown me yours, how about next week I show you mine?
-Next week, we'll be up in Country Durham.
I'll be on the farm
and I know a wonderful little adder project you can get stuck in with.
-Snakes, I can't stand snakes! See you next week, bye!
-Say bye, Zeph.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd