Matt Baker and Ellie Harrison head for Guernsey in the Channel Islands, where it is ormer season. Ellie joins islanders hunting for these highly-prized shellfish.
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Guernsey, the second largest of the Channel Islands -
a beautiful, unspoilt paradise, 60 miles from the UK
and within sight of France.
It's the island's unique terrain and small size
that makes it perfect for one type of farming in particular - dairy.
And that is where these iconic bovines come in, the Guernsey cow.
But could it be a breed that's under threat? I'll be finding out.
'A Guernsey tradition that's not so well known lies beneath the sea.'
It's one of the most eagerly anticipated days
in the Guernsey calendar.
A day when people from across the island hit the shores
in pursuit of a rare island delicacy, the ormer.
I'll be joining them out there on the first ormering tide,
that special tide that signals it's time to harvest.
'By New Year's Day this year, most British farmers
'had complied with new European laws on keeping chickens.'
But the same can't be said for many of their continental competitors.
So is anything being done about it? I'll be investigating.
'Down on the farm, Adam's taking a step back in time.'
I'll be discovering how farmers moved their sheep around
before the time of motorised transport.
One thing's for sure, you certainly had to be fit.
Guernsey - high cliffs in the south, sandy beaches in the north
and a patchwork of intricately-woven farmland in between.
It's the second largest of the Channel Islands.
At just nine miles by five, It's compact and bijou.
Even though the island is closer to France than Britain,
it remains loyal to the Crown.
And with its special climate of mild winters and long, warm summers,
it often feels more French than British,
even in January.
'Farming on the island is quite different to anywhere else.
'Guernsey farmland is divided into tiny fields,
'by ancient earth banks and hedges.'
The way that Guernsey is managed, is very traditional,
due to the lay of the land and the fact that the average field size here is just 1.5 acres,
so using big machinery, just isn't an option.
'Mind you, this fella gave it a go. But how did it come to be like this?
'Well, hopefully, Andrew Casebow, the man with the map, can tell me.'
Andrew, obviously technology has changed over the years,
but has the way that this island is been managed, has that changed?
Well, quite amazingly, not really,
because actually what we have is a mediaeval field system.
This is the Duke of Richmond map.
This actually shows the field sizes, the field positions
and the hedge boundaries from 1787.
-Can we find where we are now?
-I reckon this is the field here.
And we're looking down here to the West Coast of Guernsey.
The fields around us are exactly as they were in 1787.
Why haven't the hedges been taken out over the years?
Nearly every field here is owned by a different person,
so there's a huge fragmentation of land ownership,
and so the field boundary was the boundary between two people.
But even if you have a field, two fields that are owned
by the same person, there are laws that would prevent him
taking out the hedge bank between those two fields.
And is that the case with the other Channel Islands as well?
They have different schemes,
so each of the islands are essentially self-governing, but in the main, yes.
-But bigger fields on Jersey?
-My goodness, Jersey have much larger fields.
They're much more arable fields, so they are much larger.
Guernsey's very small.
'The fields may be too small for arable,
'but they're perfect for one type of farming in particular.'
And that's where these four-legged beauties come in - the Guernsey cow.
'The dairy industry has long-been vital to the island's economy.
'Doe-eyed Guernsey cow has been the poster girl for this place for years.
'I'm catching up with farmer Ray Watts and his herd of Golden lovelies.'
They do have a wonderful temperament, your cows, Ray,
but from a milk and a meat perspective,
they can produce some pretty unique stuff.
The milk is absolutely unbelievable. It's creamy, it's smooth.
For breakfast, you couldn't wish for anything better.
There's no other breed that produces anything of that calibre.
And, of course, the meat is also very distinguishable,
because when you slaughter it and hang it, it's the fat,
the colour of the fat is a bright yellow,
-and, of course, local inhabitants absolutely love it.
-Well, this is the thing.
I was coming over from the airport
and I had a word with the taxi driver and he used to be a policeman
and he used to work in the mortuaries, and he said, I know it sounds morbid,
but when you cut somebody open, you can tell if they were born
and raised on the island because of the colour of the fat.
-Is it good for you, though?
-It's like everything.
Everything in small quantities is brilliant.
When you see some substitutes for butter, I think the real thing is still miles ahead.
-I'm being pulled back here!
They are very inquisitive. Just grabbed the back of my jacket.
We are talking about you, girls, and you are lovely, you are beautiful.
They're a very durable breed.
It's happening again, I'm about to disappear.
'Well, I don't know if they've always been that inquisitive,
'but the breed here has remained pure for centuries.
'This is because importing other breeds onto the island was banned in the early 1800s.
'As a result, they've managed to avoid a lot of the disease
'that affects cattle across Britain.'
But these cows, they're so important to this island, aren't they?
I suppose Guernsey, wherever we travel in the world,
Guernsey is renowned for its cattle.
All the Guernseys around the world trace our ancestry back to here
and so it's important that we maintain the base of the breed here,
-because if the Guernsey breed disappears from its home, what hope is there?
'The cows are held in such high regard that traditionally,
'you could only buy milk on Guernsey that came from Guernsey cows.
'It's been the law for years.'
It's a law that's protected the breed and dairy farming.
'But now, one shopkeeper is challenging the island's milk monopoly.
'He's bringing in cheaper milk from England,
'and it's leaving a sour taste in people's mouths.
'Later, I'll be finding out what impact this could have on the island's best-loved breed.
'But an even bigger controversy is brewing elsewhere.'
If you think European law puts the UK and our continental neighbours
on a level playing field, then maybe you should think again.
As far as animal welfare is concerned, UK farmers are conforming to strict rules,
that some European counterparts are simply ignoring.
John has been to find out why.
BIG BEN CHIMES 'New Year's Day, 2012.
'And amongst all those resolutions, came one intended to make life a little better
'for countless millions of caged hens.
'The European Union finally outlawed conventional battery cages
'and ushered in bigger, more spacious ones.
'But is this resolution being kept throughout Europe?
'The vast majority of British egg producers have obeyed the law, in full and on time.
'They've spent £400 million on converting their systems
'and 2.5 million of that came from Duncan Priestner's pocket.'
They do look to be still crowded.
Yes, they have 50% more space than the old battery cages,
but because these are in groups of 60 birds,
like a big colony cage, the hens can move around a lot more.
Do you think they are happier now?
Definitely, the hens do appear a lot happier in here,
you can hear from the noise in the shed. They lay well in these systems
and if they weren't happy, then they wouldn't be laying the eggs.
'But right across Europe, as many as 46 million hens are still in illegal cages.
'Some countries, like Belgium and Italy still have a third of their birds kept like this,
'even though they've had 12 years to make the changes.'
Most of Britain's caged eggs were being produced in enriched systems like this
long before the deadline of January 1st,
and our readiness to comply with European welfare regulations
is something that Prime Minister David Cameron touched on
when I talked to him on Countryfile a couple of weeks ago.
Two things have been going wrong. One is, while WE dutifully put in place these new standards,
some other European countries have been too slow.
We need to make sure when WE put in changes, THEY put in changes.
The second thing is there has been a tendency in Britain,
and all governments have done this,
to jump into putting the changes in advance
of the actual legal necessity.
'It's a point echoed by many British farmers who are crying out
'for a level playing field.
'Duncan Priestner began switching his 120,000 hens to enriched cages
'three years ago.
'After making such a massive investment,
'he's worried about illegal eggs making their way onto our market.'
You've got all these enriched cages now,
but across in mainland Europe,
there are many egg farms which still have battery cages.
How's that affecting your business?
We spend a lot of money on this farm
and to know that imported eggs could come in this country
and undermine our market, I think could put our farms at serious risk.
Because battery eggs are cheaper to produce
so they'll be selling at a cheaper price than yours.
We will have to match that price
and that is why it will put our farms in a vulnerable position.
-So do you think now that a ban is needed?
Our farmers are very angry about this
and we are looking to the government to put a ban in place to stop
all these imported eggs
and egg products coming back into the country.
But we shouldn't be too quick to pat ourselves on the back.
Britain was left with egg on its face when it emerged
that up to half a million hens
were still being kept in illegal cages on January 1st.
The Government says it's only about 1% of the UK's total flock
and it's aiming to bring them those producers in line by next month.
But it won't be easy in the rest of Europe where some countries
are way off target.
It's slow, admits the European Commission,
but things are happening.
What they say is that they are in the process of implementing it,
and the Commission is keeping up the pressure to do that,
both through legal action and other means,
but no member state has a perfect record
in terms of implementing EU legislation.
That includes the UK and others.
It's also important to point out that even if half the member states
are not yet fully compliant, 80% of egg producers
across the European Union are compliant,
and that's increasing every day.
Some of those non-compliant countries say their farmers
need more time or simply can't afford to convert.
These problems aren't confined to egg producers.
The worry is that something similar is going to happen
in the pig industry next January,
when a partial ban on sow stalls is introduced across Europe.
Although British farmers do use individual pens for pigs
around the time they give birth,
the smaller sow stalls have been banned in the UK since 1999.
From the start of next year, they'll be banned in mainland Europe too
apart from a few weeks during pregnancy.
With just 12 months to go, many of Europe's leading pig producers,
such as Germany, Belgium and Spain, are no way ready for the new law.
Stewart Houston is a pig farmer
and chairman of the National Pig Association,
and he's showing me round an indoor farm.
They're kept in a variation on this system, in social groups
and allowed to interact with each other on a bedded area.
So they're not constrained like they are in sow stalls. Is this better?
It takes a lot more managing, but in the end,
you've got a contented animal with a long and happy life.
Why are so many pig farmers on mainland Europe appear to be
reluctant to bring in these changes?
They're frightened, I think.
Partly because of the cost and partly because of an inexperience
in being able to run a much more complicated system.
What will the impact be if the situation continues
and a lot of farmers still have the old sow pens?
There will be substantial quantities of illegal pigs being sold
and traded around Europe.
We're worried that we'll be disadvantaged by this cheaper pork
that can be produced from the older systems.
What should shoppers make of this when they're buying pork?
This is not a food safety issue. This is welfare and ethics.
Do you feel that there should be legal action taken?
The Commission say they will do that,
but they haven't really got the power to make this happen
on the 1st January, 2013.
They can only take proceedings against member states
that haven't complied and that can be a process that could take years.
By now, you may be wondering, what's the point in bringing in bans
on things like battery cages and sow stalls if they're not going
to be equally enforced right across the European Union?
Can anything be done to make them truly effective?
Well, that's what I'll be asking later on.
Guernsey's got more than its fair share of beautiful beaches,
but there was a time when these golden sands turned black.
What caused that to happen was the biggest environmental disaster
out waters had ever seen.
31 million gallons of crude oil
spilled right into the English Channel.
When the super tanker, Torrey Canyon, ran aground off Cornwall
in 1967, the oil slick it produced
caused devastation on a massive scale
and Guernsey was right in the firing line.
It was 18 days after the boat ran aground
that oil arrived in Guernsey.
The smell was acrid. It was quite incredible.
John Webster was 19 years old at the time.
The local states works department were tasked with the job
of spraying all the beaches, all the rocks,
and they spent hours down here spraying the actual oil itself.
Despite this, thousands of sea birds lost their lives.
In the end, the Torrey Canyon was bombed.
Napalm was used to burn off the last of the oil.
That should have been the end of the story.
But it wasn't.
Nearly 50 years on, the oil is still here.
Rob Rousell is the local government man
tasked with cleaning up what's left.
-Straightaway, you can see the line of where it's been, can't you?
It's mainly water on the surface, but there's still oil there,
which we're clearing.
Oh, dear. So how come the oil ended up in the quarry?
Um, well, when the disaster happened, 19 days after that,
a big slick hit the coast of Guernsey, on the beaches,
and we had to deal with it quickly, and the best way of doing that,
they felt at the time, was to pump it off the beaches
and bring it in here.
3,000 tonnes, they estimated, was pumped off the beaches.
It must have been quite a decision to know where to put it,
on an island as beautiful as Guernsey.
Well, that's why we used the quarry, I guess.
It was a decision that had to be made very quickly
and it was something that no-one had ever had to deal with before
so there was no-one to give us advice on it.
So the decision was made by the authorities to put it in here.
Rob and his team have tried all sorts to shift the oil.
In the end, it looks like elbow grease
and a bucket will save the day.
But while it remains here, it's still a threat to wildlife.
These recent pictures show dead birds stuck in its thick surface.
They were taken by Geoff George
from Guernsey's own version of the RSPCA, the GSPCA.
Geoff, is the Torrey Canyon still having an impact here?
Yeah, it is. We're still pulling birds, ducks,
-seagulls out of there on a weekly basis.
-As regularly as that?
Yes. As regularly as that.
So now that it's all been pumped away,
you must think, "Halleluiah, we've got there!"
Although it's 80% better,
there's still quite a bit of oil left.
We're still getting birds out of there.
I've seen a dead pigeon in there today.
My main worry is that even if we pump the surface out,
there'll still be some underneath the surface,
and eventually it will rise back up again.
It's not just oil-damaged birds keeping Geoff busy.
Wildlife comes to grief in many other ways.
Someone spotted something on a coast a couple of miles away
so we're off to investigate.
It's a porpoise and, as it's not obvious how it died,
Geoff has to take a closer look.
What an unusual find. What would you do here, now that you've found this?
We will log where he's been found, try and get some sort of age
and condition on him.
A lot of the dolphin groups always want to know what's happened to them
or where they've washed up.
-There's not a lot of obvious injury, is there?
-There isn't, no.
I mean, a bit swollen, but not too much.
So maybe he's not been dead that long.
No, doesn't look like he's been dead very long, a few days.
So can you take a guess how this one might of died?
It's pretty impossible to tell how it has died.
I mean, it's possible it could have been old age, illness.
It's not thin, but then it's difficult to tell
because it's already bloated, so it's not likely to be lack of food.
-We've had two or three washed up in the past week, 10 days.
-Yeah. We do get quite a lot here, so it's not that unusual.
It's not all doom and gloom, though.
Back at the GSPCA headquarters,
there are loads of animals on the mend, like this lot.
This little fellow's got mange -
a skin infection caused by parasites,
and his medicine is not what you'd expect -
-And you spray it right in there, in the middle.
-Into its face?
-And they do like it?
Is this an alternative therapy or is this mainstream stuff, aloe?
Um, it's really...
It says "Veterinary" there. Do you use it a lot?
-Yeah, we go through quite a lot of this actually.
But they do love it and they heal very quickly.
The sanctuary's having to expand to cope with a number of new arrivals.
they're seeing fewer birds affected by the oil we saw earlier.
But until that oil has gone completely, it's still a threat.
So I'm doing my bit back at the quarry
and the final chapter in the Torrey Canyon story.
-All right, there?
-Morning. Gosh, this looks like a job.
-What have you got to do?
-Dip the pocket in there.
-What, as deep as it can go?
-Oh, look at that!
-And just haul it out.
-Yep, just like that.
My word. That is gloopy stuff.
It's like...gloss paint but partially dry. Revolting.
Not what you'd expect to find somewhere beautiful like the ocean.
-Right, can I have a go with the bucket?
It's a momentous occasion, this.
Getting the last of the oil from the Torrey Canyon out.
-Oh, my! That's thick, isn't it?
I thought it would have that nice sort of petrol smell,
but it smells quite sewerage-y.
-Oh, look at that!
You can see so easily the damage that does to any animal.
When you look at the lightness of a bird in flight...
There goes a kestrel now.
It's in such contrast to something like this. The feathers,
getting it inside their bodies, the damage done is untold.
So Ian, when you're faced with a quarry full of oil,
where do you even start?
It's based on the wind direction.
As you see, the wind's in a north-west at the moment
and it's pushing the oil on the surface into this corner
so we contain it and scoop it out the best we can.
and do what we can when we can.
-It's not pleasant but...
-It's got to be done.
-Someone has to do it.
And you're doing it!
-And this is the week that it's all going to go?
It's little patches, but by this time next week,
we should hopefully have it cleared up.
It's testament to the resilience of the islanders
and of Guernsey's wildlife,
that they bounced back from the Torrey Canyon disaster.
It's great to think that after nearly 50 years,
they could soon be free of its taint forever.
Earlier, we heard how some European countries have failed to keep up
with Britain in complying with new rules on animal welfare.
But is there anything we can actually do? Here's John.
On January 1st, a new law banning the keeping of hens
in old-style battery cages came in across Europe, but 15 countries
are still using them, including the UK, where a tiny proportion remain.
Our government says it's made full compliance a priority.
The problem is that many other countries aren't doing the same,
not for the first time.
The UK spent years pushing for stricter rules governing
the transport of live animals,
but a serious lack of enforcement in parts of Europe remains a problem.
Spain was recently in trouble for breaching welfare laws
that protect animals at the time of slaughter.
Meanwhile, Britain has some of the highest welfare standards.
But it's costing us economically.
So what can be done to stop illegal products from countries
that aren't totally complying being imported and sold in the UK?
Food factories like this have long used eggs from Europe.
We import up to 18% of the eggs that we consume in Britain.
Tracing where eggs comes from when you're out shopping
is quite easy because nearly all the shelves
are filled with British eggs.
And you can double-check that by looking on the egg itself
or looking on the back, where it says "British Lion Quality".
But traceability is much more difficult
when it comes to dried eggs and liquid eggs which are used
by the food manufacturing industry to make things like these...
Every year, this cake factory uses 2,000 tonnes of dried egg
imported from mainland Europe.
That's the equivalent of 40 million eggs mixed into 500 million cakes.
With so much confusion now about which eggs
are produced in battery cages in Europe,
how on earth do you make sure you're not buying illegal egg products
to put in your cakes here?
It's absolutely impossible and when we started to look at this,
we realised it would have very significant cost and complexity,
and that's why we decided to go to 100% free-range eggs
because we feel confident in the providence of those eggs.
But that will put up the price of your cakes, won't it?
It will add cost,
but you have to remember that egg is one constituent ingredient
within the cake so when you look at the final price of the product,
it's a minimal increase,
and we think it's the right thing to do for our customers and consumers.
This factory has avoided using illegal eggs,
but that doesn't mean every manufacturer will do the same.
The British Egg Industry Council has already launched legal proceedings
against the government for not banning eggs from countries
that aren't fully complying with the law.
That's something I put to agricultural minister, Jim Pace.
What's wrong in bringing in a total ban on the import of egg
and egg produce from EU countries that are not keeping to the rules?
Well, it would be very good if we could, but two reasons.
Firstly, it is illegal in European law
and we've had lawyers check that through.
Secondly, it's impossible to enforce because egg products
and all class B eggs, which are made into liquid and powder in catering,
are not required to have any traceability on them.
But isn't it still up to individual countries to impose their own laws
on these things?
It's very much up to countries to imply with their obligations
and the fact some have not yet complied is a disgrace.
We can't go on with this "I'll sign up to it but not do it" attitude.
It's not acceptable for the consumer who demands higher welfare
and it's not acceptable for the animals either.
This hard line approach was echoed by the Prime Minister
when I spoke to him recently on Countryfile.
With other European countries, we ought to take them to court
if they don't put in place the changes that they've signed up to.
It's since emerged that Britain wasn't full compliant either.
On January 1st,
hundreds of thousands of hens were in illegal cages here.
But that's a very small number compared with some countries.
With our Government calling for prosecution,
will the European Commission take action?
Firstly, we're using our legal powers to the full.
The ground is prepared for formal infringement procedures on this
and that will be pursued very rigorously.
The second thing that we're doing
is exerting maximum political pressure on member states
who have not complied.
The third thing we're doing is working with the non-compliant
member states and those who have complied,
to prevent eggs which have not been produced legally
from crossing borders and being used in processes.
Just a few days ago, the European Commission began legal action
for non-compliance against 13 countries, not including the UK.
That's good news for our farmers.
2012 is a really crucial period for us
in the run-up to this new legislation in 2013.
It's an opportunity to get it right
and the pig industry wants to play its part.
We're got the most welfare-friendly systems in the world, so hopefully,
that should leave us in good stead if the rest of Europe convert
to these new systems so that we have a level playing field to work on.
To avoid further embarrassment, Britain's egg producers need
to get rid of those remaining battery cages very quickly.
But what about the rest of Europe?
As long as the UK does the right thing,
many would say, "That's all that matters.
"It's up to other European countries to regulate themselves."
But, if they don't, that's bad news for our farmers
and bad news for animal welfare in general.
Later on Countryfile, how did farmers of yesteryear
get their livestock to market?
-Well, they've got a move on, haven't they?!
-Yeah, they have!
-Ellie's in search of a Guernsey delicacy.
-Wow, look at that!
-A juicy one.
-A very juicy one, yeah, that will be tasty.
And if you're heading to the coast,
stay tuned for the Countryfile weather forecast.
Think of Guernsey and one thing instantly springs to mind -
As well as its iconic cows,
the island's horticulture has flourished over the years.
Jules is meeting the green-fingered growers here,
who have a secret ingredient
to ensure they get the top of the crops.
Now, locally, this stuff is known as vraic or seaweed to you and I.
For centuries, it's been the main fertiliser used throughout Guernsey,
but in recent times, its use has declined.
That is, until now.
A dedicated group of volunteers
are determined to put this natural resource back to use again.
Harvesting vraic is an ancient tradition
that's being resurrected by this lot.
A group of volunteers restoring the kitchen garden
of a nearby Victorian manor house.
It's an authentic project in every sense.
These chaps haven't just dressed up for the cameras!
I'm meeting the Lord of the manor,
Lord Eric de Saumarez, to find out more.
-Now, Lord Eric...
-Just Eric's good enough.
I was expecting a bit more ermine and gold and things.
Ah, well, you have to go to Scotland to get ermine at this time of year.
Now, where is this particular pile of vraic heading to?
This vraic is heading up to Saumarez Park,
to the kitchen garden.
It used to be our old family pile
that we sold to the States of Guernsey in 1936.
The old kitchen garden fell into vraic ruin
until the Guernsey Botanical Trust decided to take up the challenge
of reinstating it and restoring it.
-Whose idea was it to fill it full of vraic?
-That was an accident.
I just happened to be there once and said to Ivan,
"I'm just going to get some vraic."
He said, "Could you bring me a trailer-load as well?"
-So are these guys the gardeners?
-Can we have a word?
-Hello, chaps, how are you?
-Nice to see you.
Busy shovelling vraic off the beach and dressed very appropriately.
-We are stepping back in time here, aren't we?
-Good clothing, though, it's nice and warm.
-Nice Guernsey jumpers.
-Very pleased to see that.
-What is it about vraic that makes it so appealing?
-It was vital.
We've got no other natural nutrients over here.
We've got the lime, no marl, we've got nothing at all.
All we've got is seaweed and bones. So it was really important.
Some people actually managed to help their living -
they made part of their living out of just the vraic
and the gathering and the selling it on.
'Vraic collecting was so popular at the turn of the century
'that the local government limited how much could be collected.'
-I think he wants to get off home!
-I think he does. I think he does.
This causeway he's going up, he's obviously slipping a bit,
but you can see how sets have been laid
to actually help the passage of a horse and cart go up there.
Absolutely. All around the island there are these slipways.
A lot of people think they were there for fishermen to come down
on the beaches to launch boats, but they weren't.
They were done so people could get down and get the vraic.
Over at Suamarez Park, Ivan and the volunteers
are using the methods of their ancestors
to restore the garden back to its Victorian splendour,
though I can't see those ladies of the manor getting their hands dirty!
We spread it out, and leave it for quite a few weeks
to let the rain take away the salt and the sand.
Once it's weathered a bit, then we'll double dig it, make a trench,
put the vraic in, put the soil back on top and plough on top of that.
'But just what is it about vraic that ensures a bumper crop?
'Terry Brokenshire studies plant disease
'and he regularly checks the garden
'to make sure everything is nice and healthy.'
Terry, as a plant pathologist,
you must be delighted to find this sort of stuff on your doorstep.
Yes, it's a nice natural fertiliser.
It actually helps to stave off a lot of soil-borne diseases.
It's highly nutritious.
It contains all the micronutrients that plants require,
it's got hormones in it,
and hormones actually affect plant growth quite markedly,
so you'll get thicker stems, more roots, more vigorous plants.
And it's free, of course.
All the nutrients you get are basically free.
A Guernsey man likes free things!
But it's not just the vraic
that's played a part in the island's horticultural heritage.
Its mild weather has also had an impact.
Even in January, the camellias are in full bloom
and the hedgerows are studded with colour.
Everything from early flowering celandine to campanulas
and wild violets.
Because of the warm climate here on Guernsey,
it often means that spring arrives here much earlier
than it does on the mainland.
For some, that means big business.
Growing produce has long been a way of life here.
Once known for its grape production,
the island's greenhouses were later used for tomatoes.
This site was one of Guernsey's biggest tomato growers,
but now it's home to one of the world's biggest clematis nurseries.
Paul Ingrouille runs the place.
His staff pick, pot and pack to meet orders from all over the globe.
The business used to be based on the mainland
but moved to Guernsey to take advantage of its growing conditions.
For clematis growing,
it expands the season out probably about a month at each end.
We're about a month, maybe five weeks earlier,
a month, five weeks later,
so our production year pretty much
is February through to late November. On top of that,
and the thing that people overlook a little bit,
is some crops, like clematis,
also really don't like too much heat in the peak of the summer.
With the maritime plant climate of Guernsey,
we rarely get days that are above 25 degrees.
This place produces more than three million young clematis plants a year,
supplying 20% of the world's market.
And this is where it all happens.
How many of these do you pack a day?
-22,000-24,000 a day.
-This is relentless.
-Oh, I'm falling behind here.
-You do very well.
Well, you're very kind, but I've got an awful lot to pack.
'With spring arriving here so much earlier,
'Paul's staff are kept busy all year round.
'And whether it's the vraic from the shoreline or its mild climate,
'Guernsey really knows how to make the most of its natural resources.'
This week, Adam's heading to Wales
to find out how farmers moved livestock
around the country before the arrival of motorised transport.
But first he's got some work to do down on his farm with the dogs.
My farm is 1,600 acres and I spend most days out in the field,
so one vehicle I can't live without is my buggy.
These machines may be small but they're absolutely brilliant
for getting around in wet weather and across the fields.
They carry feed, hay bales and the dogs. Here, Pearl.
Go on, then, old girl. Go on, Maud.
The sheepdogs are just invaluable, they're absolutely fantastic
at using their instincts to round up the sheep.
You can get around the animals in a 4x4 like this
but they're nowhere near as effective as a sheepdog.
The dogs travel around with me most days
and they're always eager to work.
With more than 1,000 sheep on the farm,
I need their help out in the fields.
These sheep are due to go to market.
I've set some pens up in the corner of the field with a trailer
so all I've got to do now is get them into the pen and load them up.
Pearl's moving them along nicely while I assist in comfort.
ADAM WHISTLES Steady.
Right, got them. Sit. Sit.
These ewes have scanned empty, so they're not carrying lambs.
I'm just going to load them up into the trailer
and they'll go off to market.
They'll go for meat and their skins will be used as well.
These are worth about £70 or £80 apiece.
They've all got electronic chips,
which are in these tags in their ears.
I can read their tag just by scanning it like that.
I can then upload this information onto my computer
and I'll know which animals have left the farm.
It goes on movement records. Great for traceability. Technology's key.
Right, that's them all loaded.
I'll just get one of the lads on the farm to come and take them to market.
Nowadays we have the luxury of transporting our livestock
around in a modern day trailers.
But it hasn't always been that way.
I'm heading into Wales to find out how people moved livestock about
before the time of motorised transport.
For centuries, if you wanted to take your animals to market,
you'd have to walk them there.
A network of droving routes snaked through the countryside,
from Scotland to Cornwall to Wales.
And it wasn't just sheep - cattle, pigs and even geese were walked
as meat on the hoof, sometimes for journeys of hundreds of miles.
'I'm on an ancient droving route
'which ran from the Vale of Clwyd to Oswestry 35 miles away.
'I'm just doing a small section of it,
'finishing in the hamlet of Rhewl, along with local author Idris Evans.'
So before lorries and trucks and trailers,
people would have used drovers' routes like this?
They certainly would. We're actually on one now.
As you can see, these mountain tracks were created to bring animals
over from the other valley, walking them to markets.
It was in the interest of small farmers
to get their animals to the market
as quickly as possible and as safely as possible.
'The droving of livestock goes back well over a thousand years,
'but the heyday of sheep droving came in the 18th and 19th centuries.
'Britain's rapidly expanding cities needed feeding
'and demand for mutton soared.'
-How many sheep would they have walked across here, then?
-Well, it varied.
You'd have small amounts as we have today.
But it could be anything from half a dozen up to 4,000.
When you have got 4,000, it's a major operation,
so the staff involved had to be professional, of course,
and the range, from the nose of the first to the tail of the last,
could be at least half a mile or more. They needed to communicate,
especially on an open mountain like this. How did they do it?
We know they used a system of whistling,
of course, with the fingers,
which is the only frequency that can travel up to five miles.
And, of course, that has been adopted by shepherds today.
On a foggy day like today, it would be easy to lose some sheep.
We've only got a dozen and they're already getting a bit out of hand.
I mean, Welsh sheep, what can you do with them? They're so wild.
Full of energy, full of life, but very sweet in the meat.
'By the middle of the 19th century,
'tens of thousands of sheep were making the journey
'from the Welsh mountains to the English markets.'
Moving such vast amounts of animal,
it must have been quite a big business.
It was a very big business. They were handling large amounts of cash.
Very dangerous operation.
I mean, security was a major problem, because, as you can see,
on this sort of terrain, it's wild, it's open,
it lent itself to highwaymen and to rustlers
because there was a value in the animals as well.
So they had to protect themselves,
and they did, of course, by being armed with pistols.
'The dangers of carrying money on the open road spurred on
'the formation of some of Britain's first private banks.
'The promissory notes, or IOUs,
'issued to drovers reflected their stock in trade.
'The Aberystwyth and Tregaron Bank
'even became known locally as the Bank of the Black Sheep,
'because of its distinctive currency.'
-The drovers must have been pretty tough characters.
As you can see, on a day like today, they needed not only to be tough
but they had to be well-dressed, protected against all weathers.
-They've got a bit of a move on now, haven't they?
'Many sections of old drovers' routes have now been tarmacked over,
but there are often telltale signs of their original purpose.
High banks or hawthorn hedges were used to prevent the drove
accidentally picking up sheep from farms en route.
There would have been stopping off points all over the country.
All over the country.
I suppose, the daily rate, the speed, they reckoned,
was about two miles per hour from dawn till dusk.
So these places would be strategically placed,
and they would rest up for the night.
'In a time before mass communication
'when few ventured far from their homes,
'drovers performed an important social function
'as the news bearers of the day.
'It's thought that the Welsh learned of Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo
'thanks to drovers.'
There we are, Adam, the end of our journey for today.
As you can see, we're at the centre of this tiny hamlet
in front of the inn that has catered for drovers for centuries.
Here we are now, loading these sheep into the compound,
into this area, for safekeeping overnight.
-It was a hard life for them.
-It was a hard life.
We've only had a little sample today.
We've made it, but don't forget, these boys,
some of them were travelling hundreds of miles.
The main objective was to get the animals safe into a compound
such as this overnight, ready for the market tomorrow.
They're safe, we've got the right number of sheep we started with,
we haven't lost one en route.
I think we can be pleased with ourselves.
-What do you reckon?
The spread of the railways in the 19th century
signalled the beginning of the end for droving.
But it wasn't until the arrival
of the tractor and trailer on farms in the 1930s
that droving finally disappeared.
Although I've enjoyed my time in the Welsh hills,
I'm glad when I take my sheep to market,
I don't need to walk for days to sell them.
Next week, I will be meeting up with an animal behaviourist,
who's going to teach me how to think like a sheep.
I've been looking at one of the island's most famous residents -
the Guernsey cow. From farmers to the dairy, milkmen to consumer,
the prized Guernsey milk is vital to the local economy.
For years, there's been a law on Guernsey that says
only milk produced by Guernsey cows can be sold on the island.
Well, that is, until now.
Shopkeeper Nigel has decided to take on
the island's long-standing milk law
by importing cheap milk from England.
-Nigel, how are you doing?
I understand you're the man that is taking on the Guernsey milk law.
-Where's the proof?
-It's in the fridge over here.
-Let's have a look, then. Oh, yes.
Good news for English dairy farmers.
Not so much for Guernsey dairy farmers.
Basically, some customers actually worked out
the Guernsey milk at £1.05 for one litre
compared to £1.50 for two litres...
A large family can save over £300 a year.
That is a significant saving.
It could pay their electric bill for two or three months.
We should pay a premium for the Guernsey product,
and I haven't got a problem with that,
but customers want to make a saving.
'But what if the big supermarkets follow suit
'and start importing cheaper milk?
'Guernsey milkmen like John, who has been doing the rounds for 25 years,
'may well be out of a job.'
When did you first hear about milk being imported onto the island?
-That was quite recently, about two to three months ago.
-What was your reaction?
-Rather angry, to say the least.
-I won't use strong language but it was rather annoying.
But the law officers are looking into it
and we are hoping they're going to come up with the right idea.
Until a decision is made by the powers that be, John's job is safe.
But will his customers be tempted by cheaper prices
and lured away from Guernsey's finest?
-Hello, is that Stan?
-It is Stan, yes.
-How are you doing?
I've got your milk. I'm sorry it's a bit late.
It's a bit later than usual.
The milkman is usually round here at about half past seven in the morning.
Well, it's entirely my fault, I'm sorry.
I was wondering what your thoughts were on milk that's imported.
-Would you go for the cheaper option?
-You're loyal to the Guernsey.
-I am absolutely 100% loyal for the Guernseys.
-Good lad. Well, enjoy it.
-Thank you very much.
'Well, Stan seems happy to pay a bit more for what he likes.
'But could cheap milk spell the end for Guernsey's dairy industry,
'and the breed that bears the island's name?
'Ray certainly think so.'
I think it's important that people realise why they're paying
that little bit extra for Guernsey milk
as opposed to the English white water.
It's all about maintaining the environment,
maintaining the breed and once you lose that, it would be sad
if the home of the breed actually disappeared.
The island's milk law dating back to the 1950s is currently under review.
It is expected there will be a decision
on whether to maintain the ban on imported milk in the next 12 months.
In a moment, Ellie will be joining the locals
to sample another island delicacy that is highly prized.
First, it's time to deliver the Countryfile forecast
for the week ahead.
'It's January, but it feels like April.
'A cracking spell of good weather has blessed our trip
'to Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
'We've been exploring and I'm off to a really special place -
'a little island just off Guernsey called Lihou. Cut off at high tide,
'it's where locals come for absolute peace and quiet.'
But not today. It's going to get pretty busy.
Just wait till that tide goes out.
When it does, the folk of Guernsey cross this causeway in droves.
They'll be hunting for a rare island delicacy,
hard to find, and very highly prized.
And I'm not missing out. I'm joining Mark.
He's been coming down here for years.
-How are you doing there, Mark?
-I'm not too bad.
-I've got six at the moment.
-What is it that we're looking for?
What is it that gets everybody out in the freezing cold sea?
The lovely ormer. I'll show you.
-There you go.
-Oooh, look at that. I've never seen one of those before.
-Gosh, it's whopping, isn't it?
-It is. It's not a bad size, that one.
You do get bigger.
'The ormer is a member of the abalone family -
'big shellfish prized for their flesh.
'Fishing for them here in Guernsey is traditional.
'50 years ago, nearly half a million ormers were fished annually.
'But over-fishing and disease saw numbers collapse,
'leading to an outright ban in the mid-'70s.
'Today, there are strict rules.
'You can only fish for ormers between January and April
'and then only around the times of the full and new moons,
'just 24 days a year.'
Is there a limit to the sizes you can get?
-The minimum size is 80 mil.
-That's the outside shell, is it?
-As long as that fits, which that does...
-It sure does.
-OK, you can take that one.
-Show me the technique. How do you do it?
You've got to look for rocks with the weed on top
that haven't been turned yet.
You can tell if a rock has been turned, it's normally white.
We just turn a few rocks
and we see if there's anything underneath.
-Do you have to lift it right out to sea?
-Not always, no.
-It's lovely clear water today.
-It is clear.
You rely on that, almost, to see what's going on underneath.
This one's been turned but you can get your hand in.
You're feeling all sorts of things.
-You must have to be used to it to know what you're feeling for.
-You get to know the feeling.
-It's a bit unnerving.
-It can be!
'These rocks are sharp so gloves are an absolute must.
'Ormers like to hide away
'and there's a real knack to finding them.
'Lucky for me, I've got Mark to show me how.'
There we are, look, we've got one. That's too small.
-You can even see without measuring it.
-Do you ever get tempted to just take them anyway?
-Is everyone quite good about the rules?
-Most people are.
Occasionally you get people that will take under size
but there's a hefty fine if you get caught.
-And it's in everyone's interest...
-In a few years, that'll be nice and big and juicy.
-Remember that one.
-It's a bit like turning the cards over,
-remembering where they were.
-Put it back carefully.
'Not everyone is so conscientious.
'These rocks have been left the wrong way up.
'Leaving them like this kills off the ormers' preferred food - algae.'
By turning the rock over, what you're actually doing
is killing some of those algaes in as little as 24 hours.
The others that you don't kill will die
over a prolonged period of time - exposure. Not only that,
if we look at this rock,
you've got these different encrusted seaweeds and sponges, and algae.
-Look at these beautiful patterns here.
-Oh, yeah, wow.
But that all should be that way up.
That looks much more normal that way. The colouring looks...
You've got limpets here, you've got your top shells,
all the other creatures that like to live on the top side.
Seaweeds, they're going to die if they're the wrong way up.
It's easy, actually, for someone to come back through
-and flip them back again.
-No problem at all.
We're running out of time because the tide is on its way back
so one last-ditch attempt to catch my tea.
What about great big rocks like that one there?
-Yeah, that's not too bad a rock.
-You need two hands there. I can do it.
-You can do it.
-Ah, unbelievable. There we go.
Look at that. You can use your hook.
That will be stuck firmly to the rock so you can use your hook now.
-Put that in, just underneath it.
-You try not to damage it?
-Try not to damage it.
-Get it in, that's it. Off it comes.
-There we are.
-Easy! Wow, look at that. A juicy one.
-A very juicy one.
-That's going to be tasty.
-We should eat it tonight.
With the tide racing back in
and the sun sinking down in the west,
it's time to head inland to the home of top island chef, Tony Leck,
a man who knows exactly what to do with ormers.
'Smack them with a hammer.'
-Not too hard, we don't want to break the whole...
-Oh, I see, OK.
Trying to keep the shape.
'They've already been cleaned and scooped out of their shells,
'this bit is just about softening up the flesh before cooking.'
-Is that good? Or more?
'Next, it's into some melted butter, from Guernsey cows, of course.
'Flour either side, then into a sizzling hot pan.'
These must be something incredibly special
because there's so much effort that goes into harvesting them
-and people spend a whole day, get maybe only six...
-It's quite a community effort as well.
I know lots of guys that do it and gather them
for their own family and for the older generation,
the ones that can't perhaps go out and gather them themselves.
So it's not necessarily they taste amazing,
-it's also about the culture and tradition of doing it.
And, of course, using what's available around you.
'A couple of minutes in the pan, but three hours in the casserole dish.
'Luckily for us, Tony has already got one on the go.
'A portion like this at Tony's restaurant
'will set you back 17 quid - not exactly cheap.
'Let's find out if it's worth it.'
Here we go. Here's a little...
Goodness, look at that texture.
-The texture is not flaky at all.
-not shellfish-like. Shellfish and I don't have a good relationship.
But the meatiness of that is very palatable. Lovely.
Great flavour, too. That's all we've got time for from Guernsey.
Next week, we'll be in the Blackdown Hills,
where I'll talking to entrepreneurs
trying to breathe new life into the wool trade
and Matt will be on the hunt for the elusive brown hairstreak butterfly.
Hope you can join us then. Right, dig in.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]bbc.co.uk
Matt Baker and Ellie Harrison head for Guernsey in the Channel Islands, where it is ormer season. Ellie joins islanders hunting for these highly-prized shellfish, while Matt discovers why the demand for cheap milk could threaten the future of one of our most iconic breeds of cow: the Guernsey.
Back on the mainland, John Craven investigates whether there is anything that can be done about European countries failing to keep up with Britain on new rules on animal welfare. Plus Adam Henson follows in the footsteps of the farmers of yesteryear when he moves a herd of sheep along a traditional droving route.