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From ploughing frosted fields in deep midwinter...
..welcoming signs of new life in spring...
..to the golden fields of summer's end...
and bringing the harvest home...
..the farming year is always a busy one.
Over the years, farming has seen a lot of changes,
what with state-of-the-art machinery and modern crops.
But despite all the advances,
the rhythm of the farming year remains pretty much the same.
As a farmer, my job is all about preparing for the seasons ahead.
Here on our farm in the Cotswolds,
next year's crops have been planted and the summer harvest sold.
So I'm mainly concentrating on our livestock today.
I've got a bull to sell, some cattle to feed,
and these little piglets to check on.
They're just a week old.
Aren't they lovely?
I'll also be looking back on the farming year, with some
favourites from the Countryfile archives.
Like when Ellie met the farmers
helping vulnerable wildlife flourish...
And these guys are the new front-line in the battle
to save our birds.
..when Matt met the young farmers scrubbing their stock
and fluffing up fleece for the annual county show...
Don't be nervous, you'll be absolutely fine.
You just go in there and do your thing and relax.
If you're relaxed, she'll be relaxed.
..and the time Anita met a farmer harvesting for health.
-Do you use the products?
-I do, of course.
Well, you're looking good for 105, I must say.
The great thing about farming
is you always know what's coming up in the year ahead.
The weather may throw a few spanners in the works, but there's
usually a comforting predictability about the changing seasons.
We've got both livestock and arable on our farm here in the Cotswolds.
All the crops were planted in the autumn and are growing very well.
At this time of year, the grass is starting to run out,
and we need to start feeding some fodder to our cattle.
But my first job today is to get these three young Highland bulls
up into the handling pens.
I've got a prospective buyer coming to look at them.
And these are all sons of my old favourite, Eric.
There's one random Beltie in with them, too.
I bought Eric back in 2011
and I know you shouldn't have favourites,
but I had a real soft spot for him -
and he soon became the nation's favourite, too.
Eric did me proud, producing some great offspring.
Remember the little silver bull calf that you, the viewers, named Nevis?
He's a feisty two-year-old now.
Go on, Nevis! Go on! Go on!
Go on! HE WHISTLES
'Well, this is one way to keep warm on a winter's morning.'
Yay! Got him.
I'll just shut the gate.
'My buyer today is Ben Firth.
'A local farmer who keeps Highland cattle
'just down the road in Stow on the Wold.'
-All right, Ben?
-Hi, Adam, how are you?
-Good to see you.
-All right, not bad, thanks.
You've got three to choose from, Ben.
-Come on in.
So how come you're after a bull, then?
I lost mine through TB, over the last four years.
So I thought I'd get another one, try and build my herd back up.
-How many cows have you got?
-Just nine. Just nine Highlands, yes.
That's more than we've got, actually, we've only got five at the moment.
-But they are lovely cattle, aren't they?
-I love them to pieces.
-So what are you looking for in a good Highland?
Nice frame, nice, stocky... stocky-looking animal.
-I like the head, I like a nice set of horns.
McGhee here, he is three years old, or just over three.
Blondie looking bull. And then Noble, the very red one.
And Nevis, which is a silver colour, and he's just sort of pale dun.
And when he was born, he was really silver.
-I had never seen anything like it.
-I've got three silver ones myself.
-I like the look of Nevis there.
-And your name is Ben.
-Ben Nevis is perfect.
It is a match made in heaven.
I think it could be.
Well, I mentioned the price, it is 1,600 quid, on the phone.
-Is that OK?
-Yes, that is perfect.
-Brilliant. All right, thanks, Ben.
-We'll get them loaded.
There's a good boy. There's a good boy.
Nice and quiet, isn't he?
-He is, very.
-Come on, fella.
'Hopefully, Nevis will be a hit with the ladies
'and produce some fine offspring for Ben on his farm.'
There's a good boy. Perfect, Ben.
OK, so there is Nevis's passport.
-They all need a passport with them to travel.
And there's the registration document.
-So we just need to put your name and address on that.
-And away you go.
'So Nevis is off to a good home from home.
'Just down the road, in the gentle Cotswolds.'
But last winter, I visited the snow-capped Yorkshire Dales
to meet a farmer and his hardy herd
braving the elements in a much tougher landscape.
This scenery is classic Yorkshire Dales.
And with the snow on the ground, it looks absolutely stunning.
And dotted around in the valley and up on the hills,
you can see the odd sheep and cow.
But they look very small in this huge landscape,
and quite insignificant, but actually,
they've played a major role in shaping this land
for thousands of years.
Nothing is as natural as it appears.
Farmers down the millennia have worked
and made this land what it is today.
Those early farmers must have found it pretty tough going up here.
The landscape is hard and unforgiving.
The weather at times can be harsh and unpredictable,
so shelter was essential.
Just imagine what it must have been like
for those prehistoric farmers when they came across this place.
This natural limestone amphitheatre offered protection from the elements,
somewhere to shelter from the ice and the snow.
The survival of those early farmers would have depended on it.
It's been described as one of the natural wonders of Britain.
To find out more, I'm meeting Miles Johnson.
He's the archaeological adviser for the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
-Thanks for coming to meet me.
-What a spectacular view, isn't it?
-Oh, I love Malham Cove.
It is just one of those places you've got to see
-if you come to the Dales.
-And how was it formed?
It is basically a complicated geological feature,
partly formed by the ice sheet in the last glaciation.
At one stage it was a massive waterfall.
But subsequently, the stream that formed the waterfall disappeared,
went underground and now comes out at the base of the cove.
And forms this stream we are standing over.
Forms the stream that we stand over, yes.
So those early farmers had water and shelter.
Evidence that they were here is all around us.
These long ridges are cultivation terraces,
remnants of the medieval farming landscape.
Here, farmers would have planted oats, turnips and swedes.
These acres have been farmed for thousands of years,
and they're still being farmed today.
I'm joining my old mate Neil Heseltine.
Neil farms a herd of Belted Galloways -
hardy cattle suited to this land.
-Hi, how are you?
-I was told you were up with your cattle,
-but it's quite a walk, isn't it?
-It is, you managed it all right.
I did, yes. And the cattle seem to thrive up here.
Yes, really pleased with them, actually.
You know, they obviously live up here all winter,
and they are looking in good fettle at the moment.
So it is about grazing to suit the environment,
-as well as looking after the cattle.
-Yes, it is.
It is about getting this grass down so that the flowers are allowed to
flower in spring and come through,
so the sward isn't dominated by grasses.
We've got to move these to another field to sort of do the same
thing there, so if you want to give us a hand, that would be great.
You always get me working up here when I come and see you.
Well, I know you do very little at home,
-so we will put you to some work.
-Yeah, all right.
-Come on, girls.
-They're going along very nicely, aren't they?
Yes, well, they have been along the route a few times now
so they kind of know the way.
And with a bike and trail in front of them,
with a load of silage, they just follow their noses.
These dry stone walls are amazing,
quite different to what we have the Cotswolds.
Yes, I mean, obviously there's a plentiful supply of stone around,
so they could make them as high as they wanted, really.
And I think these roads would originally be sort of built
and then closed for moving stock along, primarily.
It is only probably in recent times
-that they've become actual roads for cars.
We've got to get around this car, is that a problem?
Well, not really, as long as they get sided up, as we call it,
as long as they get well in the side.
The cattle will get past OK, as long as he turns his engine off.
But they sometimes get a bit funny with us.
But it is the cars that are impostors on the road, not the cows.
So, are your cattle fed purely on grass, or do you feed grain
and concentrate pellets to them?
No, we've had them for about 12 years now
and we've never fed them any grain whatsoever.
And is there a premium for that kind of meat?
Well, yes, we've actually become approved suppliers
of the Pasture-fed Livestock Association,
which deal entirely with mainly beef and lamb,
which is all produced without any use of grain whatsoever.
Incredible. You think of the archaeology,
the people who have been here for thousands of years, producing meat,
that you are now doing today.
And just like those old farmers, we have to be ready for anything...
..because nature has a tendency to bite back.
The blizzard comes out of nowhere.
The Belted Galloways just plough on, seemingly oblivious.
For Neil and I, it's not quite so easy,
and we soon fall behind the herd.
But there's more trouble ahead.
It looks like the last bit of the journey is going to be
-the hardest bit, Adam.
-How are we going to get this open?
-I think all we can do is dig it out, I think.
Is this field where they're going?
This is where we are going to finish up.
-So if you could just start digging that out, Adam.
Give me the sunny Cotswolds any day.
Keep going that way.
Told you to bring a shovel.
'With the gate finally open,
'we tempt the cattle through with some tasty silage.
'When the snow melts, they'll get to work grazing,
'keeping the grass short, allowing wild flowers
'to burst through later in the spring.'
So this is their nice new home.
-Yes, they will be glad we brought them, won't they?
-It is horrible.
-And they are stood here, steady as rocks, whereas I'm freezing.
It comes back to the hardiness we were talking about before.
You know, they are bred to do this.
Hopefully, like I say, the next couple of days,
we will keep an eye on them, but they should be fine.
From earliest times, farmers have worked this countryside,
battling the elements, eking out a living.
But they've left their mark and continue to shape this land.
Winter is not only a tough time for animals.
Lots of farmers these days don't just farm with cattle
and crops in mind, but wildlife, too.
We're part of a Higher Level Stewardship scheme,
which means we get a government grant
to plant special areas around our fields to provide food for wildlife.
I'm a strong believer that if you've got healthy wildlife,
you've got a healthy farm.
And there's a new event in the farming year
to promote farming for wildlife,
in particular our dwindling numbers of birds.
Ellie found out more about it back in February.
Sunrise over Leicestershire's rich, agricultural pastures.
The best time to look and listen in this perfect setting.
But there's a battle in our countryside to save
some of our most vulnerable wild birds.
More than half our farmland bird population has gone since the 1970s.
Once-common species like corn bunting, tree sparrows
and grey partridge are now a rare sight.
The cause is well understood -
intensive farming, pesticides, and the list goes on.
But it's farming itself that might just bring the birds back.
I've come to the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust's research farm.
Here, the trust have been looking at the decline,
and more importantly, how to stop it.
They believe the key to recovery rests with farmers.
Last year, the trust began the Big Farmland Bird Count.
Farmers were asked to spend just 30 minutes recording the species
and number of birds on their land.
The trust's head of training, Jim Keegan, came up with the idea.
What we want to do is get farmers engaged, to actually go out,
spend that half-hour, look and enjoy birds.
Because they are hard-working people,
they've got to produce food for us,
and they don't always get a chance to look up and see.
They've got a really good overview of what's on their farm most times.
But to actually go out and identify everything
and see what habitats it is using,
they don't always take time out to do it.
We did a count last year for the first time.
We had 500 farmers take part
and they saw 116 different species between them.
We saw every Red List species there is
that's associated with the farmland.
-That gives you a positive take.
-A sense of hope.
And a sense of hope.
An increasing number of farmers are doing their bit,
from growing plants to encourage the insects birds feed on,
to maintaining hedges for them to shelter in.
More and more farmers are thinking about our wild birds.
But before they can save the birds,
they need to be able to spot the birds,
and that's what's going on in here,
so I'm going to go and join them in the classroom.
So what is a farmland bird exactly?
OK, well, welcome, everybody, to this farmland bird ID day...
Expert Peter Thompson is about to tell us.
He'll turn these farmers into birders.
They'll soon be able to spot linnets...
..and yellowhammers -
all birds in decline who depend on farmland.
But here we have a house sparrow. And that's the cock bird.
And notice here, look, that the lovely black bib that it's got.
Fantastic. Right round the front, black bib. And also...
But there's only so much you can do in a classroom.
Right, time to put this theory into practice.
OK, now we're out on a beautiful sunny day,
so, perfect for bird-watching, if you like.
We can see already, up this hedge, we've got quite a lot
of different farmland birds here.
You are a busy farmer.
Do you get a chance to look around and enjoy the birds while working?
You do, but I think we completely take it for granted.
The great thing about this count is it makes us stop and count them
and share that information with the public and then tell this
great story of what birds we've got in the countryside.
People who adorn their offices
and workspaces with nice pictures of pot plants, I'm trying to do that
with my farm as my workplace -
essentially, my massive outdoor office -
and adorning it with the natural flora and fauna of the area,
and of course, that includes farmland birds.
So it's very important that we count these birds and farmers can then
check the health of their farm by the numbers that they get.
'So what can farmers do to help? Peter is going to show me.'
Here we are walking right now on a field of wheat.
And when you look at it, it is just wheat growing.
There's no broadleaf weeds, so next spring the insects,
that come in on those broadleaved leaves won't be there.
So there's no real food value in these fields for birds.
So what's the solution?
How do we farm successfully and allow birds to flourish?
Well, there's lots of measures.
-So let's go and have a look at some, shall we?
Ordinarily, how much of this field would have been used for crops?
Oh, the whole thing, right up to the edge.
But now what we've done is
we've taken quite a large section out here.
Yeah, and we've planted wild bird seed mixture in,
which is really just literally growing a crop - not for us,
but to feed the wildlife, to feed those farmland birds.
And they flock into here in massive numbers.
There's another strip just further along here. What's happening there?
This one here is an annual crop, so that will get destroyed
and re-drilled come this spring.
This time of year is quite tricky, isn't it?
It's early on in the year and there's very little to be eaten.
The trouble is we have a hungry gap at the moment.
These seed crops are running out of seed.
This is white millet and that's what we grow.
Absolutely love - yellowhammers, reed buntings, all sorts of species.
But let me just scrape that through and put it in my hand...
and then blow.
-Look, that's nearly all gone.
-There's nothing left.
There's absolutely nothing left.
They've been in and eaten all that seed.
So now they're getting really hungry.
It's no good feeding these birds up until mid-January
and then they starve to death, we need to keep feeding.
-That's where your bucket comes in.
-Where will this go?
It needs to be on the ground where the birds can land and peck at it.
So a trackside like we've got along the hedge here would be perfect.
-Chuck it right here?
-Yeah, just lob some onto the path.
Why this is such a good place, tracks, because you're coming
up and down every day, you can just come and throw a little bit out.
But also we're right next to this fabulously thick hedge,
so should a sparrowhawk or danger of any sort come,
the birds will pile into that hedge and that's real safety for them.
What are your hopes, then, for the future of farm birds?
We've proved here that actually you can have intensive farming
and you can have plenty of farmland birds - we've shown that.
We just need to get lots of farmers to do it.
And I think we've got to remember
that we are in a very man-made landscape now.
Everything you look at out there is influenced by farming
and agriculture and human beings.
And so we, if you like,
need to grow plants, grow crops for birds,
do this supplementary feeding,
and that way, we can actually help these birds,
-and if we do, they'll flourish.
Despite being in the depths of winter, back on my farm,
we're looking forward to new life.
We're just coming to the end of the mating, or tupping, season.
These rams have been doing their thing with the ewes,
so hopefully we should have a field full of healthy lambs
next February, March time.
Now that tupping time has come to an end,
I'm going to catch these two rams
and put them in the trailer and take them away from the ewes.
I'll just get my dog and some food.
The ewes come into season every 17 or 18 days,
and the rams have to recognise when they're in season and receptive.
And they often lift up their top lip as they can sense whether the ewes
are in season or not,
and if they are, then of course they mate with them.
All these ewes have been marked now. They wear this harness
with a crayon on the front,
and when they mate with the ewes, they leave a mark and we change
the colour of the crayon so we know who is going to give birth when.
These are two Dorset rams - Poll Dorsets.
They're lovely, friendly rams.
I don't think they're going to be very difficult to catch.
I'll just shake a bucket
and hopefully they'll jump in the back of the trailer.
Come on, boys.
Go on, in you go!
They're better behaved than people's dogs!
Oh, good boys!
That'll do. Here, hup!
Right, let's let them out.
What I've got in here is a bunch of rams,
and all the rams live together during the winter months
and then will go back to the ewes again next autumn.
So I'm just going to mix these two in.
Come on, boys.
There's good lads.
And I'll take their harnesses off.
We put them in a pen like this so that they can't hurt each other,
because they're quite aggressive at this time of year and they'll fight.
And when they're in close quarters like this they can't stand back
and butt each other very hard.
They push each other around a bit, but after 24 hours,
they've got used to each other,
the smells of each ram has rubbed on to one another,
and then they settle down and just live as a group.
Right, there we go.
You can see this one's been fighting a bit already.
We've had to put a bit of antiseptic spray on his head.
Now, no scrapping, boys!
After a long winter,
we all welcome the arrival of spring, especially farmers.
Last March, we caught up with Matt as he helped out his mum
on Mother's Day,
welcoming some new arrivals to the family farm in the Durham Dales.
Now, I absolutely love this place, but, to be honest with you,
I didn't really appreciate the Durham Dales until I left,
and I find that they're like a magnet that just keeps drawing me back.
Mum and Dad moved here from the former mining town of Easington
when I was a young lad, and it's somewhere I escape to
whenever I can with my kids, so they can experience the natural wonders
that I had on my doorstep as a youngster.
But today, that's not why I'm here.
I'm going to give my mum the day off.
-This is your Mother's Day breakfast.
-Oh, my word!
-There we are.
That's a small butty, isn't it, sweetheart?
I know, don't worry about it. Let me just grab me cup of tea.
Well, it's not just my mum that's getting some extra attention today.
There's a whole load of expectant mums in the lambing shed
that need a little bit of extra TLC.
We keep one of the most northerly flocks of Hampshire Downs
in the country.
The young male tups are out in the pastures at the moment
as all of the focus is on the ewes.
All these girls in here, they're first-time lambers
and they've been put to a young tup, so it's a very exciting time
for us to see what the offspring is going to look like.
And speaking of which, this little fella here was born first thing
this morning, and you can see already her instinct, how it's kicking in.
She's stamping her foot. She just wants us to keep our distance.
Which we will, my darling, I'm just giving you a bit of breakfast.
There we are.
Since these girls are inside ready to lamb
they get spoiled with a mixture of hard feed and home-grown hay.
There's a lot of goodness in that. Would you like some?
Of course you would. BLEATING
Because this is a pedigree flock, the newborn females will
stay on the farm for breeding, joining the rest of the Baker clan -
a flock of Hebrideans, our Cairn terriers,
Beano, the pony, our Border collie, Monty,
Riff Raff, the farm cat
and this lot,
my mum's pride and joy.
Say hello to Augustine, to Winifred...
There you are, my dear.
We'll carry on going along here,
because hopefully you'll be able to meet little Luna and Sophia.
These are all miniature donkeys.
And welcome to the miniature stable-yard, look,
where the stable doors are only knee-high.
'Today, the miniature donkeys have an appointment with the local farrier.'
Come on, Winifred! Come on, my dear.
Right, now, Winifred is off to see the jack very shortly,
so hopefully she'll be having a foal around this time next year.
So she has to look her best
and, Tom, you're going to do Winnie, aren't you?
-It's quite an interesting part of your apprenticeship, I guess?
Yeah, it is.
-You get to see all different types, all different sizes of things.
So, essentially, there, Tom, you're just kind of filing down,
almost like cutting fingernails. But would you ever be in a situation
where you'd think about putting a tiny little shoe on there?
Not on a little donkey like this,
because its rate of growth
is normally greater than its rate of wear.
But a donkey in other countries, when they're getting rode
and doing a lot of miles on the roads,
then you might have to put a shoe on just for protection.
There's a queue here now, look! SCRAPING
It's like a nail bar!
'To complete Winifred's pedicure, some nail varnish,
'to keep her hooves in tiptop condition.'
Well, there we are, my dear. I think you're done. What do you think, Mum?
-Absolutely. Well done, Tom. Thank you very much.
BEES BUZZ, BIRDS SING
ADAM: As spring gives way to summer,
we reach the climax of the farming calendar - harvest time.
Combines chug through the fields, reaping the bounty of the land.
But not everything we grow is harvested for food,
as Anita discovered last summer.
ANITA: In the shadow of the Black Mountains,
to the west of Herefordshire,
the fertile fields are producing food of a different kind.
Rather than feeding the appetite,
this farm sets out to nourish the body in a different way.
For the past 30 years,
these five acres have been abundant with colour.
This farm harnesses the power of flowers and harvests for health.
Marshmallow is an emollient - it softens and soothes the skin.
'Having studied botany and plant physiology the world over,
'Dr Paul Richards' fascination with the herbal uses of plants blossomed.
'He returned to Herefordshire,
'growing herbs and flowers to make skincare products.'
When did your love of plants begin, Paul?
Well, it actually started when I was really very young,
because my father and uncle were really keen on wild plants.
-This is echinacea.
-Obviously well known as a cold remedy.
You say it's well known as a cold remedy.
I mean, do we know that plants can have medicinal properties?
Most definitely, and there's lots of evidence.
As well as traditional evidence,
they've actually done lots of trials on this.
I mean, 75% of commercial medicines have some origin in plants.
-Such as morphine?
-From poppies, yes.
The word "aspirin" actually comes from spiria, a genus of plants
including meadowsweet, known for their pain-relieving properties.
But these crops have all been especially selected
for their ability to nurture and protect the skin.
-Do you use the products?
-I do, of course.
-Well, you're looking good for 105, though, Paul!
Marshmallow provides the basis for a lot of Paul's products,
and I don't mean the type you devoured as a child.
We use the root, actually, of this plant and it has mucilages in it.
What's a mucilage?
A mucilage, it's a soft, silky substance that soothes the skin
and it also attracts moisture and holds it in the skin.
-Like a mucousy...
-No, no! Silky!
OK, that's the better adjective.
Although we don't harvest until later,
we've dug one up for you to see.
-If you open it up you can feel this silkiness to it.
When you extract it in water,
you get this lovely sort of jelly.
So when we started, we championed the use of marshmallow
because it's such a good herb
and very few people were using it at the time.
But we notice that quite a lot are using it now
-because they realise how good it is.
-I bet! Well, it feels lovely.
The crops are grown organically and the small team sow, grow
and harvest everything by hand.
These marigolds, we call them Calendula,
because that's the type of marigold they are.
They're anti-inflammatory, which is very useful if you've got
sensitive skin, obviously, to use an anti-inflammatory.
'To get from seed to skin, the flowers and herbs are first picked...
'..then cleaned and chopped, before their resins can be extracted.
'Paul's wife Carol is showing me
'the next step in the process, in the purpose-built drying room.'
Doesn't it look beautiful in here?
Yes, beautiful colours, aren't they?
We've got two layers of drying herbs here and the fans sort of move up,
a gentle heat comes through the herbs and just dries.
Do you know why I love this? There's something very... It's very hands-on.
It also feels like something you could do yourself.
It's very easy to make a simple balm, but it's actually
-the quality of the organic herbs really makes a big difference.
The dried flowers are then infused in sunflower oil
at a warm temperature for around three weeks.
Once strained, you have the flower oil extract.
Hairnet on. Now, I thought I was here to beautify myself, Sarah.
'And into the farm's field lab,
'where it's Sarah's job to create the finished products.
'And she's captured a real flavour of Herefordshire.'
-Today we are doing temple balm.
So this is going to be a nice sort of calming,
soothing balm to obviously put on your temples.
In here we have Herefordshire hops.
-There's something relaxing about hops, is there?
Years ago they used to use hop pillows
like we would use lavender now.
And in here, this one is lovely, this is the meadowsweet,
which is a wild herb that grows in the hedgerows.
And that has a mild pain-relieving element to it.
We're sterilised and ready.
'To a base of sunflower oil,
'I add the infused hops and meadowsweet.'
This is organic beeswax.
So that's obviously to help the balm set.
That's it. Pop it in. In it goes.
'Leave for two hours to allow the oils to blend
'and kill off any germs.
'Some essential oil to add scent...'
-Oh, yeah, that smells lovely.
-It does smell nice, yeah.
'..then it's time to pour the molten, oily wax into some warm pots.'
Everything is kept warm so the balm doesn't set too quickly.
-How many hundreds have we got to do?
-Oh, only about 1,000 today.
-Yeah, not many.
What do we reckon, Sarah? Have we done well here?
Yeah, it looks pretty good to me.
-To set there. There we go.
'Leave to set for a couple of hours and relax.'
-Here we've got the finished product.
-Give it a go?
And so this is good for the temples, is it? Just that much?
Yeah, you only need a tiny little amount and just...
-It feels lovely.
-Yeah. Massage into the temples.
Mmmmm... Oh, I'm relaxed already.
Fresh from the fertile fields of Herefordshire.
Now, that's what you call flower power!
We don't go as far as using hand creams or beauty balms,
but making sure our animals are looking at their best
is a year-round job here on the farm.
Today, my Golden Guernseys are having their nails done.
Whilst they're inside for the winter
it's a good time to give them a bit of pampering.
And with fewer than 1,000 of this rare breed left in the country,
it's important to keep them in good nick.
There's a good girl.
They're quite wriggly, goats.
The Golden Guernseys obviously originate from the Guernsey islands,
and they're famous for producing a really rich milk.
So when these nannies give birth in the spring,
we let them feed their milk to their own kids. We don't milk them.
And the kids do really well because the milk is so rich.
So here you can see the toenails just get slightly overgrown,
so I'm just trimming them back.
This nanny has got a bit of soreness here.
Sometimes they get a fungus growing
and it's a bit like athlete's foot in people.
So I've got some spray that I can just squirt on it.
And that will stop it developing and stop her going lame.
OK, that's you done, missus.
Sounds like the pigs next door want their nails done too!
Keeping animals looking at the best is not only good for health,
it's nice to show them off every now and then, and the summer county show,
a staple in the farming year, is the place to do it.
MATT: It's 7.30 in the morning at the Kent County Show.
The doors aren't open to the public yet, but some of the younger
exhibitors here have been up for a very long time.
And that is because this show is also the largest
gathering of competing young farmers in Europe.
So, in just over an hour's time, this ring will be full of animals
and their handlers.
So I've come to lend a hand with one Young Farmers Club in particular.
Overlooking the English Channel, near Hythe in Kent,
lies Brockhill Park Performing Arts College.
But it's not just for drama students. You can become a farmer here too.
The cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens and horses on this fully working farm
are all looked after entirely by students in the school.
Your lambs might jump forwards. Your job is to stop them, all right?
Donna Ashley manages the farm.
Here at Brockhill,
our students are so lucky that we've got a fully working farm here,
and our students learn all about animal husbandry, animal behaviour,
animal nutrition, and then they get to take our animals to
the Kent County Show each year, as well.
You get to do stuff you wouldn't normally do at normal schools.
You know what real farmers go through on, like,
a daily basis and you get a little bit of a taster, really.
I'm not from a farming background at all.
None of my family have farming in their history.
I literally just got into farming through the school.
'We've got an amazing Young Farmers Club with 80 active members,
'40 of which we are taking to the show.
'And we are busy this week teaching them about show preparations,
'show technique and ringcraft.'
Keep moving, keep moving! You've got corners to walk into.
This is my cow, Darcey. I'm taking her to Kent Show.
She's an Aberdeen Angus cross a Belgium Blue.
'I'm really hoping that Darcey will do really, really well,
'because it's my own hard work
'and it's what I put into it that will really come out in the show.'
We get the pigs ready by using pig oil, spreading it along their back,
and that just gives them a good shine.
With pigs you've got to try and stop them,
so you've got to use a pig board,
and you have to use quite a lot of effort.
They're not very well behaved, to be honest with you.
Well, lads, fingers crossed
that they're better behaved than that at the show!
Because today is the big day.
Young farmers from the cattle, sheep
and pig teams are making their final preparations to impress the judges.
To anybody that's never seen this before,
they'll think you're going to a lot of effort,
putting a bit of hoof oil on and this, that and the other.
-But it's all part and parcel of the show.
It's completely up to you.
If you want to put in the effort and win the prizes, then you'll go far.
And there's no shortage of effort being put in by this lot.
Look at this!
It's mesmerising, this scene of just so many girls carding at once.
It's like the ultimate lamb spa. Look at this one's face!
"Ooh, just do me shoulder. That's lovely!"
Right, let's have a word with Donna, see how things are going.
-Sorry to interrupt.
-Is everything all right?
-How fraught is it?
-It's organised chaos here but it's all good.
-We're loving it.
-Well, this is the thing, because I mean, it's...
it's just months and months of preparation and investment
-and it all comes to a head today.
This is the complete pinnacle of what Brockhill Young Farmers do.
This is exactly what they want to prepare for.
-Yes, we're coming!
-Steady, steady, steady.
'But you can't prepare for everything,
'and the stress of a nervous calf is taking its toll on Holly.'
Don't worry, nice and calm and keep her nice and steady before we go in.
-Feeling all right? Ready?
-Yeah, a little bit nervous.
Let me tighten that tie up for you.
-There you are.
-You look good.
Don't be nervous, you'll be absolutely fine.
-Just go in there and do your thing and relax.
-Yeah, I will do.
If you're relaxed, she'll be relaxed.
Well, it looks like Holly's managed to compose herself and Darcey
just in time as she heads out into the arena for the moment of truth.
Come on, Darcey.
Come on, Holly! Nice and calm.
MOOING AND INDISTINCT ANNOUNCEMENT
Come on, Holly. There we are.
-This is tough.
It's crunch time as the judge makes her decision.
'..goes to Brockhill.'
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
'Third prize goes to... Holly, for Brockville.'
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Holly and Darcey have won a third prize rosette.
Congratulations, team! Well done!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
-How was it for you?
-It was really scary.
-I was so scared.
Well, it was all a bit frantic going into it to start with, but...
-Yeah, it was.
-Let me say, you did really well, OK?
-And a second and third for the school. So...
-Yeah, I'm pretty happy with that.
-Brilliant! Here's to next year.
ADAM: I'm looking back at the farming year
and the cycle of the seasonal jobs that keep us farmers on our toes.
For all those important dates in the farming year,
why not get yourself one of these, a Countryfile calendar for 2016?
The calendar costs £9.50, including delivery.
You can buy yours either via our website...
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donated to the BBC Children In Need appeal.
There are many activities that keep farmers busy in the autumn,
from ploughing the fields to moving sheep to greener pastures.
But last year I met one farmer trying to overcome a very specific
I'm heading to a turkey farm in Maidenhead, Berkshire, where,
believe it or not,
during autumn they have their turkeys in training for Fireworks Night.
Sounds bizarre, doesn't it? Well, that's the reason
I couldn't resist the opportunity to pay them a visit.
WHIZZING AND BANGING
Fireworks might be a great spectacle,
but for animals it can be a pretty scary time.
WHIZZING AND BANGING
This was a time of year that farmer Tom Copas
and his 38,000 turkeys dreaded.
But now he's found a solution that will help every turkey
on Copas Farm overcome their fear of fireworks.
-Howdy, Adam. Are you all right?
-What a lovely sight!
-Yeah, thank you very much.
-They're very talkative, aren't they?
-They are very vocal, yeah.
-You can talk to them, you know?
-Go on, then.
TURKEYS RESPOND LOUDLY
-ADAM LAUGHS Dr Doolittle and his turkeys!
If you're stuck on a decision to make, you can always come
and ask the turkeys' opinion. Pretty consistent!
And how long have you kept turkeys on the farm here?
-Since 1957, so 50 years now.
-Are most of them outdoors?
Yes, 80% of them are outdoors, free range. We have some barn reared.
And these lovely covers for them to get under. It's great, isn't it?
I've seen them pecking away under the sunflowers.
Yeah, it's just finding a nice, entertaining environment
for turkeys to run around and forage in,
just to be turkeys, gobble about and enjoy themselves.
They're very inquisitive. I'm getting pecked on the leg now.
They'll do that, yeah.
They want to have a good look at you, see what you're made of, yeah.
So during the autumn, you're building up for a big event.
-Tell me about that.
-Yeah, well, November 5th, Fireworks Night.
Fireworks, the big bangs, the loud crashes,
really can spook and upset our birds.
-So when they panic they can hurt each other, can they?
-Let me show you.
There we go. So you see that on there?
They are really sharp, aren't they?
They could seriously damage each other.
You can imagine what damage that could do behind a 7 kilo turkey
on a little 5 kilo turkey. They'd rip 'em to shreds, poor little guys.
So, horrible for the birds,
-but not good on the Christmas table either.
No-one wants that on their Christmas dinner.
-Most important meal of the year.
-Of course it is!
I'll let you put that one down.
So, to prevent this, we have fireworks training.
So this means we actually literally
start in the daytime, getting the birds used to letting
bangers off, letting fireworks off, getting used to bangs,
getting them accustomed to it into the evening.
And then the birds just get used to the bangs
-and the flashes?
'Up to 25% of the stock can end up damaged after Fireworks Night,
'so the training really is essential for their welfare.'
-Are you letting any off today?
-We are. Do you want a go?
Yeah, I would, yeah. I like a few fireworks.
'Tom and his team have been doing this for the past 15 years
'and the training starts in the daytime.
'So we position ourselves a safe distance away in the next field.'
So we're just going to let off a few of these little poppers.
-Let's see how you go. I'll stand back.
-So you see them moving across now.
-So they run away.
-They've all gone quiet.
-Oh, there's a big one!
-Yeah! ADAM LAUGHS
So what happens now? Dusk is approaching.
Well, the ones in the polytunnels that we've seen here,
they're going to stay out all night just as they are.
Whereas the ones in the permanent housing,
they're coming in for the night.
I've got a little friend who's going to help us out with that
-and I think you'll like to meet her.
-OK, let's go and have a look.
Now, we've all heard of sheepdogs, but this is Kes, the turkey dog.
Trained to work the...turkeys.
BARKING AND GOBBLING
This is great, isn't it? I've never seen anything like it!
Yeah, she's actually third-generation turkey dog,
so, yeah, trained the same way as a sheepdog but, to her, turkeys.
-She's certainly very keen!
-She loves it, yeah, yeah.
-Come on, Kes!
Come by! Come by! Look at that! I'm working a turkey dog! Yeah! Come by!
Come by, Kes! Come by!
Come by, Kes! Come on!
'Or maybe not.'
She's a one-man dog! THEY LAUGH
This is as far as turkey dog Kes will take them.
As the sun starts to set the birds will naturally
head for the cover of the barns.
It's just a waiting game until, eventually, darkness.
At night, the birds are at more risk,
as being inside means they've got less space
if they start to panic,
making it more likely they'll injure each other.
So, phase two, the night-time firework training is essential
to make sure that, come November 5th,
they'll all stay calm in the barn.
-All right, Tom, it's pretty dark now, isn't it?
-Yeah, it's a bit tricky.
-Have you got any light there?
-Yeah, we'll get this light sorted.
-There we go. Is that better?
-Yeah, much better, thanks.
Right, so what's the plan?
Right, Steve, our farm manager, is in the sheds.
He's ready for when we set off a firework,
-to calm the birds down and make sure it all goes swimmingly.
-So if you want to do the honours.
-I'll give you a light and we'll get out of the way.
-Are you ready, Steve?
Calm down... Calm down...
LOUD BANG, MUTED GOBBLING
BANGING AND WHIZZING CONTINUES
-GOBBLING GETS LOUDER
-Calm down. Calm down.
-How was that, Steve?
-Yeah, that was good, Tom.
Well, I've seen farmers prepare for autumn in all sorts of ways,
-but that was a first for me.
-How do you think today has gone?
Well, it's a good start.
The birds calmed down quite nice and quickly afterwards,
so I'm pleased how it's gone.
But we have got a bit more work to do
before we are ready for Bonfire Night.
BANGING AND WHIZZING
From the glowing fields of summer...
to the freshly ploughed fields of autumn...
..and the slow descent into winter.
I'm looking back at the farming year,
with each turning season marked by specific jobs for farmers like me.
This is grass that's cut during the summer months.
It goes inside the plastic
and it pickles and keeps it in good condition.
Right, one more string and that should drop off.
Now the winter months are drawing in,
we need this extra fodder to keep these cattle going.
Back in the yard, I've got some pigs to sort out.
Got a guy coming to buy some.
These pigs are ten weeks old. They're called weaners at this stage
and I'm selling them to be grown on and fattened.
GRUNTING Their new owner is Simon Wilson,
who mainly farms beef shorthorns, but is now venturing into pigs.
Righto! OK, nice one.
He's already had one lot off me, so he must be doing well.
Well, here they are, Simon. We've got about 22 here for you.
A couple of litters of Gloucester Old Spots, some Tamworths
-and then the Iron Age, these wild boar crosses.
-Yeah, they look good!
You've had some before - how are they getting on?
Really pleased with them. They're growing really well.
The Tamworths and the wild boar crosses looked a bit small
-but they've really come on. I'm pleased with them.
-Where do you rear them?
-They're reared in woodland.
-Do they make a mess out there?
-They do but it doesn't matter.
-And then you sell them through your farm shop?
-That's right, yeah.
We probably get through three pigs a week,
three porkers a week, at the farm shop,
and it's great to be able to buy them straight off the farm.
And we've got a butchery there and they're sold as pork joints
and also we do a lot of sausage rolls, so...
-Lovely. I love a sausage roll.
Hopefully, these will do you well
-and we should be able to keep up with the demand, hopefully.
-Let's get this lot loaded, shall we?
-Yeah, let's do it.
They might just...make their way.
'Just the last two stragglers to go.'
Go on, piggies!
Cheers, Simon! All the best.
Unlike the bull we sold earlier, the pigs don't have a passport.
Their movement is all done online
and all I have to do now is send Trading Standards a text.
As one lot goes, another arrives.
This is Rita, one of my Tamworth sows.
And pigs give birth all year round
and a sow will have two litters a year.
This one has given birth to six.
I would have hoped she'd have a few more - eight, or even ten.
But they're lovely piglets.
They're just over a week old and all in good condition. There's no runts.
And they'll stay with their mother now for a couple of months
and then they'll be weaned and go to the farm shop.
New life for the new year.
When the rhythm of farming begins all over again.
Well, that's it from me in the Cotswolds.
Next week, Ellie will be in Wiltshire on the lookout for winter wildlife.
Hope to see you in 2016. Until then, Happy New Year!