Anita Rani explores the Artisan Trail in Dartmoor, a newly created route that links some of the area's best artists and craftspeople.
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Dartmoor is a landscape to fire the imagination,
to stir the creative spirit
and to coax out the craftsperson in us all.
I'll be meeting some of the artisans, food producers and artists
who are forging new lives out here on the moor.
This is very satisfying.
Sean's looking at some of the ways ponies are being put to use
on the moor.
How did the ponies change your life? What did they do?
Gave me a reason to get up in the morning.
Tom's finding out what we can all do
to give male dairy calves a useful and decent life.
If people do drink milk and they eat meat,
then they should be aware of the realities of dairy farming
and what options the dairy farmer has for those bull calves.
And, with harvest underway across the country,
Adam's taking stock out in the fields on his farm.
We've got about 1,300 acres of oilseed rape to cut
so what we need is a really good dry spell of weather
so the combines can crack on.
Famous for its wide-open spaces,
and, of course, its wild ponies.
This is one of the UK's most spectacular moorland landscapes.
And now there's a whole new way to experience it.
The Dartmoor Artisan Trail.
The newly established Artisan Trail links different artists,
craftspeople and producers living and working on the moor.
to food producers,
to basket makers,
there are 21 artisans ready to show you the tricks of their trades.
You can take a guided tour or cycle the route
or just stride out on foot,
which is what I'm doing.
My first stop is Huckworthy Bridge on the western edge of the moor.
It's where Jane Deane has her studio.
Jane spins wool by hand in the traditional way
and colours it using natural dyes from plants in her garden.
Look at this wonderful table of beautiful colours.
Yes, all natural, all from plants.
When did you get involved with the Artisan Trail?
When it first started. It must have been last year.
And your passion isn't just wool, is it? It's textiles generally.
It's textiles generally, yes. I love anything that's fabric.
I just think that textiles are very undervalued, I think, these days.
VOICEOVER: But Jane aims to change all that.
Visitors to her studio are shown how to work with different materials
and how to make the dyes needed to colour them.
Right now, she's cooking up a new shade of yellow using flowers
she's just picked.
It's goldenrod, which is this,
and saltwort, which is that,
and they've been cooking together for a little while.
So what I'm going to do now is I'm going to drop the yarn in.
How long will it take before...?
Oh, it's instantly taking the colour.
Yes, it'll take a little while
for the colour to completely come through.
You can see that it's changing already.
So how do we go from this to a ball of wool that you can knit with?
We have to take the yarn - the fibre - and spin it into yarn
and I'm going to teach you to spin.
Good luck with that!
So what's the principle of this spinning wheel?
The principle of the spinning wheel
is to put some twist into the fibres
so that they'll hold together as a yarn,
because if you didn't have twist in them and you pulled them,
-they'd come apart.
Yes, so you can imagine, knitting with that,
you might not be tremendously successful,
but as soon as you put some twist into them,
then they become a cohesive yarn.
-Can you see the yarn twisting in my fingers?
-Yes, I can.
-But it's also pulling it on.
Wool is particularly easy to spin because it likes to stick to itself.
So if I'm joining a new piece on,
I open a few fibres up...
-Oh, look at that!
-..and I just offer them to that.
It's a beautiful thing to watch.
It's a beautiful thing to do as well.
I'm very excited to have a go cos I've never done this.
I'm going to get my big clumpy boots on then, Jane.
You want to try and keep it going the same way.
Yeah, how do I do that?
-Just give it a bit more welly.
-There we go.
-There. There you are. You've spun your first bit.
VOICEOVER: You know, I think I might be getting the hang of this.
Pinch it there and pull back.
It should pull out a bit more easily.
OK, yes, sorry. I'm clinging on to it for dear life.
That's what happens. You're doing really well.
-That's very kind of you to say.
-No, it's not kind at all.
Oh, here we go, I'm letting it in.
Yeah, well done.
-I think you're probably one of nature's spinners.
-You don't come across them very often.
-This is great.
-A new life skill.
And, once the yarn's spun, there's a knack to finishing off.
Then you take this off and you have a skein
and then if you want to keep that really nice and neatly,
you twist it...until you can feel it, sort of, give.
Put the two ends together like this.
Oh, there it is.
-My first-ever yarn.
-There you are.
-You learn something new every day.
Now, on a dairy farm, females do the work and make all the money,
so what happens to the males born in the herd?
It's something farmers are contending with
as the industry comes under public pressure.
You may find some of the pictures in Tom's film upsetting.
TOM: Here in UK, we love our milk.
In fact, we get through more than five billion litres a year.
For many of us, the pint on the doorstep is now a distant memory,
replaced by the plastic bottle from the shops.
And the industry behind this has changed too.
Today, it is produced on an industrial scale.
To get the amount we all want, you need pregnant cows,
and a lot of them,
so most dairy cows have to produce a calf a year
to keep that supply flowing.
Female calves join the herd, but what about the boys?
Sadly, some dairy bull calves are shot.
Nobody wants it, but it's been a grim reality for years.
Well, at times, we had to.
When prices were low and when we were shut up with TB,
we were forced into the situation of having to shoot the bull calves.
We did not like doing it
and no farmer does like shooting bull calves.
And it's still happening today.
No-one can put an exact figure
on the number of dairy bull calves being shot,
but estimates suggest it's around 10,000,
possibly even up to 100,000.
That's a grey area for an industry under the spotlight.
This controversial advert grabbed the headlines recently,
adding to pressure on the industry, and that's something dairy farmers
across the UK, like Abi Reader, understand only too well.
She manages a 180-strong milking herd in South Wales
with a mix of Holsteins and Dairy Shorthorns.
Tell me about this character.
Right, so this little lad is about four weeks old.
This is a Holstein bull calf, so he's typical black and white.
He has a dairy mother and a dairy father.
He's pure Holstein.
Tell me about the value of this animal,
or possibly the lack of it.
OK, so he'll be worth £1 a kilo.
And how does that compare to a regular beef animal?
Well, if we're looking just at this Hereford here,
this one would probably be worth, to me, about £150...
-..and this one's worth 50, but they were born on the same farm
at roughly the same time.
So have you ever had to shoot bull calves
cos they were worth nothing?
No - fortunately, we've never had that problem here.
We've always had enough space to rear them
and we've managed to keep it going.
It's something that we hope that we would never have to do.
It's not a nice thought.
VOICEOVER: Today, more female calves, known as heifers,
are being born than ever before.
This is thanks to something called sexed semen.
It's a genetic technology which farmers use
to increase the chances of cows giving birth to females.
In the past it was 50/50 whether you'd get a bull or a heifer calf,
but now, with sexed semen,
those odds have changed dramatically.
And this is how it's stored on the farm,
kept cool in liquid nitrogen.
It costs £30-£40 a shot and,
while its use has increased by nearly 40% in the last five years,
it doesn't work every time, meaning dairy farmers are still
faced with bull calves that they can struggle to afford to keep.
Abi sends her bull calves to a local farmer
who has the time and space needed to raise them through the beef system.
She can then focus on her dairy herd.
Abi buys sexed semen for most of her productive milkers,
hoping their calves will strengthen the herd
and keep it producing
almost 1.5 million litres of milk every year.
Particularly the Holstein Friesian, your black-and-white cow
that you see out in the fields, she is bred for milk.
She's not bred for meat.
She's the greyhound of the dairy world.
She's very angular.
She's not built for flesh like a beef animal,
so you can see all the bones.
That is really distinct, actually, cos on a good beef animal
-it's all about the back end.
-It's nice and round,
the top cuts, whereas I guess all the value here
-is down here, for dairy.
That's years of breeding, really,
and shaping the animal to do what she's designed to do.
It all comes down to profit and loss
and, as bull calves have no place in a dairy herd,
to stay on the farm, they have to make money, or else.
But is there another way?
One that put bull calves first and bank balances second?
Well, here in Rutland, they think so.
The Ahimsa Dairy Foundation is the UK's first slaughter-free dairy
producing milk on a small scale.
Cows and bulls work and then retire, passing their days chewing the cud.
None are sent to slaughter.
VOICEOVER: I'm joining co-founder Nicola Pazdzierska
during oxen training.
What made you set this place up in the first place?
Originally we started as a cow welfare campaign
and then people started to say to us,
"Where can we get cruelty-free milk from?"
So what do you do with the bull calves?
So the bull calves, they're all being trained as working oxen.
This is Gautam and Horatio.
So you don't see a dairy bull calf as a problem.
-You see it as a future draft oxen.
-We love the boys.
They're a magical part of our herd
and you never see this sight in the English countryside any more.
VOICEOVER: You may think this is how all cows should live,
but, realistically, this is a not-for-profit business
and could never deliver enough milk for the UK market.
But they're hoping for at least 23,000 litres a year,
so it's time to roll up my sleeves.
They even milk here by hand
because they think it's kinder to the animal
but I think I'd better hand it over to the professionals,
otherwise Tilly's going to be here all day.
Over to you, Connor.
The old ways are all well and good,
but the cost of this everyday essential
could blow your weekly shopping budget.
So what do you sell your milk for to the customer?
-To non-members, we sell milk for £4.50 a litre.
That seems like quite a lot of money.
That price enables us to keep a cow for all of her life
and not to slaughter our bull calves and to keep them for life.
We say drink less milk, but value it more.
Nicola believes this is the right way,
but as a nation, could we afford it?
£4.50 a litre for the slaughter-free milk,
as compared to around 60 pence
for conventional milk from your local supermarket.
But it's not solely about price - or, indeed, just about milk -
so what other options are there
for the dairy farmer struggling with bull calves?
That's what I'll be finding out later.
ANITA: Dartmoor is a landscape to stir the spirit
and feed the artistic soul.
For printmaker Anita Reynolds,
the land itself is an endless source of inspiration.
Dartmoor offers me quiet,
open space and access to really raw landscape.
It's incredibly peaceful.
There isn't a time when I'm here that
I don't engage with some kind of living thing.
That's just what makes my heart sing.
I love it.
I'm not interested in pretty blue skies and fluffy clouds.
I feel I've earned the right to produce the work
if it's a bit of a struggle.
For me, it's about slowing down and respecting a place that you're in.
Standing on top of a tor looking out...
..it puts mankind into its place in scale.
It makes me feel insignificant and I think that's a good thing.
I look for the minute little colours and marks and textures
and I use those in the foreground to, sort of, knock back
this immense lump of granite.
This beautiful orange lichen,
it's just stunning against this grey.
It's perfect for what I'm after today.
So when I start, I'll actually use a technique called direct draw,
which is a type of printmaking.
I do this in order to have a sketch
that's actually in reverse.
So it's very difficult to sketch in reverse straight on to the paper.
I produce better prints if the wind is flapping the paper around.
I think, as an artist,
it's good to give people a different view of Dartmoor.
So, once I've done my initial sketches,
I head back to the van,
usually have a cup of tea straight away
and, if it's like today, warm my hands up.
A few years ago, we decided to put a print press in the back of the van.
This keeps the engagement with place if I do it straight away.
I lay down a first colour on to a piece of Perspex
and then, using a little piece of rag or my fingers
or a little piece of plastic,
I lift off certain areas...
..and then I'll put it through the press.
I have the plate,
the print and then soft blankets
and it gets rolled through
and the ink is transferred
from the Perspex plate on to the paper.
And this is the same colour as the lichen that we saw.
I'm going to just put a few tinges in.
And sometimes I'll flick a little bit of spirit on to it,
which disperses the ink.
And that looks just like lichen.
And then I'll keep going - probably about three or four colours.
And finally, you peel the paper back off the press to reveal the print.
Pleased with that.
-It's easy to see how this landscape moves the artistic soul.
It's the rugged, unspoilt nature of the land,
one of our last true wildernesses.
But it doesn't look this way by chance.
One animal in particular
has played a big role in shaping this landscape -
the Dartmoor pony.
They have lived in these parts for 3,500 years.
In former times, they were put to work as pack ponies
and in quarries, but these days they have another important task.
What role do they play in tourism?
Well, lots of the 2.5 million visitors who come here
come here to see the Dartmoor pony.
And today, Dartmoor ponies contribute to
the conservation of Dartmoor's landscape.
They will eat plants that some of the other animals will not eat
and they graze in a particular way.
Conservation like this keeps some of them busy,
but with so many ponies now on the moor,
this is not sustainable.
For farmer and pony-lover Sue Martin,
that has led to some hard choices.
Sue, you've had ponies in your family for generations.
-What type of pony is this?
-Yes, this is a pedigree one.
A cheeky one here. This is Star. She is very, very friendly.
They make lovely children's ponies.
What are the issues surrounding ponies here in Dartmoor?
Well, the problem is they're not economically viable to keep
and, of course, they don't earn the money that the cattle and sheep do,
so there's no incentive to do it.
I take responsibility for what spreads,
so we're trying to reduce the numbers
by a package of different things.
Some areas have removed a stallion, or certainly reduced
the numbers of stallions, but that doesn't work everywhere.
In my case, my neighbour's got a vasectomised stallion,
so they run out with him.
It just means I can control how many foals we have.
If you produce something that there isn't a market for, you've then got
to decide what to do with them and, actually, ultimately,
some would end up being put down, being shot, actually.
-Being shot, the foals?
Many people will really struggle with the idea of shooting
a foal like Star here.
It's horrible and I absolutely dread the day that I have to do it.
Charlotte Faulkner is vice-chair of the Dartmoor Hill Pony Association.
For her, there's an alternative to killing - contraception.
She's licensed to shoot contraceptive darts into the ponies,
but it's only so effective.
Wow, this looks like serious stuff. What's happening here?
I'm busy practising to shoot a contraceptive into the mare
so that they don't get into foal.
Can't you just inject them?
No, cos they're wild on the commons and, sadly,
we haven't invented a drug yet which lasts longer than 25 weeks,
so every 25 weeks, you have to go out on to the moor
and find the mares.
We can't just bring them all home each time.
Why on earth are you doing this?
It's really important,
otherwise the foals get shot in the year of their birth,
which, to me, is criminal, so we had to find every way possible
and if they're not born, they can't be shot.
You could also do vasectomisation of the male horses,
sterilisation and stallion removal.
Why aren't you doing things like that?
It would be very difficult to remove all the stallions off Dartmoor,
cos, as you can see, it's a huge area
and one of our drifts alone is 10,000 acres
and you only need one boy to hide behind a bush and...
-He has a lot of fun!
-He'd come out once we'd gone and have lots of fun.
Is there some opposition to what you're doing?
I think it's a lack of understanding of the contraception project.
There's so many different ways
and we've got to provide all those options
and support the pony-keepers in every way we can
in order to reduce that foal crop.
Whichever way they choose, we must be there to support them.
So this is just one way.
Perhaps new purposes need to be found for unwanted ponies.
-Scientist and farmer Robyn Petrie-Ritchie
is doing just that.
She's seen the benefits that contact with animals can have.
I think Petal's recognised someone here.
Is it Lee?
Oh, there we are. Hi, Lee. How are you?
-An accident at university left Lee Bramham partially paralysed
and it's the Dartmoor pony that has given him a new lease of life.
I was going to be in the Navy as an officer at university,
and then it wrecked my life.
I couldn't do that any more.
It must have been a really difficult time for you.
Yes, it was, very difficult.
But now I've been introduced to the ponies,
it gives me an amazing sense of wellbeing.
How did the ponies change your life? What did they do?
-They gave me a reason to get up...
-..in the morning.
How important for you personally is it
that they keep the ponies on Dartmoor?
When I was a little kid, I used to love coming up to Dartmoor
-and seeing the ponies.
-They make it a lot better place.
Putting the ponies to work like this
is just one way of safeguarding them.
But there are others.
Later, I'll be looking at another, more radical approach.
ANITA: Earlier we heard how the dairy industry is tackling
the issue of what to do with their bull calves.
But what are the alternatives?
They may look sweet, but financially,
bull calves are often seen as a waste product
for the dairy industry.
They cost money to keep and, obviously, don't produce any milk.
As a result, tens of thousands, maybe more,
are shot every year and bovine TB just adds to the problem.
If it's in your herd,
moving the calves off your farm becomes difficult.
That means they could end up taking valuable space and money for years.
No-one likes this dilemma.
So what other options are there?
One answer is to raise them as rose veal.
Now, unlike veal farming in the past,
this is a modern approach.
The calves have plenty of room to roam around,
they're fed on a nutritious and varied diet
and they're not slaughtered until they're at least eight months old.
But for many people, veal is still a dirty word,
and that's something Joe Bailey from RSPCA Assured says need to change.
The public perception, it's still that negative, emotive image
of the baby calves in the barren crates shipped to the continent.
Veal nowadays in the UK, reared to higher welfare standards,
such as RSPCA Assured,
is very different from the veal that
is in people's minds from the past.
And it saves them being shot at birth,
which is obviously a waste of life.
Nowadays, they're slaughtered between eight and ten months old,
when they're almost as large as fully grown cattle.
And what we have to remember is that that can be older than chicken,
lamb and some pork products that are all deemed acceptable.
To get more of us buying and eating veal,
is it simply a question of rebranding?
Perhaps something along the lines of rose beef or light beef,
but perhaps it's something when, post-Brexit,
when we are allowed to perhaps be a little bit more flexible
with the name, we can put out to the public and get some answers to.
So there is a market for veal, but it's still small
and it's not going to be a solution on its own.
Currently, the market just doesn't demand enough bull calves.
So is there another way?
Now, you'll have to forgive my mentioning Brexit,
but in the UK, we're currently around 75% self-sufficient in beef,
and that begs the question - could British dairy calves
plug that gap and reduce the amount of beef we import?
Well, some dairy farmers are already ahead of the game
and doing just that.
So, the mothers of these would be your pretty standard dairy cow.
Yeah, the mothers of these would be pedigree Holstein cows,
your standard dairy cow you see in the field
as you drive up the motorway.
Near Birmingham, Michael Oakes farms 180 cattle.
Two years ago, as milk prices began to fall,
Michael wondered if he could have the best of both worlds -
dairy and beef.
So they're this shape because their father was a beef breed
even though their mother was a dairy cow?
Yeah, yeah, and that is what is giving these their shape.
If you look at this one behind us now,
you know, I wouldn't want to play rugby against that guy!
You know, he's pretty solid and they're all the same,
so they are a beef breed, in effect,
and they will be your prime cuts.
For his most productive milking cows,
Michael pays for sexed semen,
which greatly increases his chance of getting female calves.
But the rest of the dairy herd is fertilised by a beef breed,
the British Blue, giving him beefier crossbred youngsters.
And the outcome to this change of approach? A much better price.
And in terms of the money that you can make, how is it different?
You know, if these were straight dairy calves,
as opposed to what they are.
We were taking somewhere between £30-£60 for it at ten days of age.
If we'd have sold these at ten days of age,
it would have been closer to £300 a calf,
-so you get ten for one in effect.
So, by changing to a crossbreed,
Michael's bull calves are now almost worth their weight in gold.
For me, economically, it works,
ethically, I think, it's a good thing to do,
but, actually, I think it's part of the solution
to the supply chain issues and, actually, it just works.
Not sure whether that's a vote of approval you're getting there,
but he's certainly getting involved in the answer - gee, you're cheeky!
Now, not every farmer has the option to run beef alongside dairy,
but the dairy black-and-white bull calves can produce mince
and other cuts of beef.
But to do it, Joe Bailey says farmers need us to buy into it.
-Do you think this kind of meat could use a new name as well?
-Yes, I do.
I think if we had something along the lines of dairy beef,
that would inform the public.
You know, and if people do drink milk and they eat meat,
then they should be aware of the realities of dairy farming
and what options the dairy farmer has for those bull calves.
So, ultimately, we shoppers have a lot of the power to shape
the destiny of dairy bull calves.
If we buy the veal or beef they become,
then it gives it a value
and shooting them at birth could end as a pointless waste of money.
I'm on Dartmoor, continuing my journey
along the brand-new Artisan Trail.
I've already learned to spin wool by hand.
Next up, I'm off to Chagford Community Farm,
where members sign up and agree to pay up front
for their fruit and veg.
Today is delivery day
and showing me around is one of the directors, Dan Burston.
I'm appearing through the courgettes!
-Lovely to see you.
-Good to see you. So what's Chagfood, Dan?
Chagfood's sort of set up on the mission to provide the local
communities with healthy
and seasonal food that doesn't cost the earth, basically.
It's like a market garden, we're on six acres,
growing food for five local villages.
Our furthest customer's just under ten miles away.
And how many people do you have who've signed up to the scheme?
Well, there's 100 households at the moment, so it might be 250 people.
These members get a share of the harvest for a fixed price.
In a good year, that can mean plenty of veg.
But in a bad year, it might mean taking a smaller share.
It looks absolutely beautiful today. What have you got growing?
This week, we're harvesting courgettes at the moment.
This morning we've harvested kale, rainbow chard, tomatoes,
cucumbers, lettuce. We'll be picking French beans, broad beans.
Can anybody turn up at this farm and volunteer if they wanted to?
If people were on the Artisan Trail, "Right, Chagfood, let's go
"and see how they grow their crops," could they just walk up here?
Yeah, totally, I mean, get in touch, or
if you're just passing by, come on up and we'll show you around.
-There you go. So we're just harvesting the courgettes.
Because pesticides aren't used on the farm,
old tyres act as a line of defence against hungry critters.
-We're just cutting through the stem, just below the fruit.
I don't know, is this one big enough? Let's give it a go.
-That looks fine, yeah.
Also visiting the farm today is the writer
and photographer who came up with the Artisan Trail, Suzy Bennett.
Suzy, this is idyllic. It's so beautiful.
-Beautiful, isn't it?
So this whole Artisan Trail was your brainchild.
Yeah, I mean, it started
because I needed a curtain pole for my cottage down here
and a friend just said, "Well, why don't you go to the blacksmith
"and ask him to make you one up?"
So I went down one afternoon and was completely captivated by what I saw.
It was a beautiful old Victorian forge, which was really dark
and hot and smoky, and as a photographer it was a total dream.
And I thought, "Gosh, well, if this is on my doorstep,
"what else is here?"
Greg led me to the shoemaker, who led me to the potter,
who led me to the weaver, who led me here, to Ed's farm,
and gradually this photography project gathered momentum,
and initially it was just going to be an exhibition, actually.
But as time went on people sort of said,
"God, I'd love to see all these Artisan producers at work."
So I thought, well,
why not try and make it something that people can come and see?
So the idea of doing a trail was born, where people can come
and visit the artisans, they can watch them at work,
they can try their skills, they can make their own shoes
or wooden bowls or spoons, and it's growing from there.
How do you decide who gets on the trail, who's an artisan?
Because people might not think that growing fruit
and veg is an artisan craft.
I mean, the idea of the Artisan Trail that it's people
who are hand-making things with real love and honesty and integrity.
It's an antidote to mass production.
I wanted to do something that celebrated and championed
the people who are still making things by hand
in a really traditional way.
Growing seasonally and sustainably
is proving a hit with Chagford's members.
Picking your own veg is a big part of the appeal, too.
They are delicious and sweet.
When the picking's done,
there's just enough time for a cup of tea and a quick natter
before the last of the day's jobs - filling out the veg boxes.
And as a finishing touch, seasonal flowers are bundled in, too,
also grown on the farm.
Wow, look at these. Aren't they just delightful?
This is brilliant.
Am I being overly generous?
There we go. Seems like a few here.
-Thank you, Ed.
All grown with love, care and attention,
which makes it extra tasty.
I've done all right here.
The dry start to the summer has meant good growing conditions,
and up and down the country many farmers are well into the harvest.
On Adam's farm, too, the harvest is in full swing.
This time last year, the combines were still in the shed,
but we've got going about a week to ten days earlier this year,
which is quite a good thing. It means we're ahead of the game.
We've got about 1,300 acres of oilseed rape to cut, which is
what we're in now, on our farm, the neighbour's farm
and with the contracting work we do,
so what we need is a really good dry spell of weather so
the combines can crack on.
These combine harvesters are a remarkable bit of kit with
a huge amount of onboard technology.
It's cutting the plant that then goes up
into the guts of the combine, that thrashes out the seed,
it's collected in the tank and then into the trailer,
and because oilseed rape produces such a tiny seed,
it's quite difficult to combine and it's a very, very clever machine.
And here it is in the trailer.
I think it's brilliant how you can go from that dead brown plant
to all this lovely, pure black oilseed rapeseed.
In the past, it would've been used for biofuels and margarines
and those sort of things,
but nowadays it's being cold-pressed to produce rapeseed oil
and it's brilliant for roast potatoes.
Machines like this can really eat up the acres.
Gathering crops as fast as you can is important here in the UK...
-..because the British summer
can vanish in an instant.
We were told there was a weather front on its way.
Sadly, the forecasters were spot-on.
Just after I left the combine, the heavens opened,
so I've had to put the waterproofs on,
and now the crop is absolutely soaked, so we have to stop harvest
because this'll just block up the combine when it's all wet like this.
Now we've just got to wait for the sunshine.
But when it comes to the animals, they don't mind the rain at all -
especially the pigs. These are some of my Berkshires,
we've got a boar there and a sow,
and she's with him to hopefully get pregnant again.
It doesn't look like the rain's going to put him off his stride.
Back in April, I visited Martin Snell's farm in Somerset.
Martin is one of a handful of breeders who still
farms an endangered breed of pig called the large black.
I was so taken with them I bought a pair of sows so I too could play
my part in keeping the breed going.
Well, I have to say, if they turn out like her, I'll be very happy.
Yeah, I should think you will be. I probably didn't charge enough!
When I bought the two large blacks from Martin,
I was hoping they were both pregnant.
Just take a look in here.
Both sows gave birth and this is the latest litter
and, if you just look over here,
there's nine little piglets and they're absolutely gorgeous.
She's made a great job of it.
We kept them in the stable here, just to get them
a little bit stronger before we turn them into the field.
And that's what I'm going to now, even though it's raining.
Pigs are as tough as old boots and they've got a shelter,
so they'll be absolutely fine.
Pig farmer Martin promised me the large blacks
and their offspring would be easy to handle.
Come on, then. Come on.
Well, he was right. Look at this. She's going straight in.
Some of my pigs would be trying to jump out the side.
What a good girl. She's in. That was easy.
Now I'll just get the piglets and pop them in the front.
They're really great. They're much quieter than I thought they were
going to be. You're lovely, aren't you? Yes.
We'll put you out in the field.
Once all nine are loaded, it's off to their new home,
where there's plenty of room to explore
and a litter of their Iron Age cousins keen to meet them.
Because they're so young, this shelter will give these
piglets a bit of cover if the weather turns nasty.
There's a good girl.
Look, there's some grub for you.
She'll stay with her piglets now for about eight weeks
until she's weaned.
Well, I'm delighted we've got a new breed on the farm.
I think my dad would've been really pleased, too.
There's a good girl.
One animal here on the farm that can withstand whatever
the weather throws at it are our Highland cattle.
You may remember Archie, my Highland bull here.
I bought him from the Queen, from the Balmoral Estate,
and he's grown into a lovely fella.
He's so gorgeous, he loves having his back scratched.
And these are his calves that were born this year.
And we've just put him out with the cows again to get them
pregnant for next year.
And they've pretty much finished the grazing out here,
so I'm going to move them on to some fresh pasture.
Ooh, you love that, mate, don't you?
-There's a good boy.
Go on, then.
Go on, Archie.
I wouldn't recommend scratching the back of any old bull,
but I know Archie very well and I can tell he's in a good mood.
With lots of sweet, fresh grass for him
and his ladies to look forward to,
who can blame him?
It's really lovely turning cattle on to fresh pasture,
when they get their heads down and start grazing. The cows will produce
lots of milk to feed their calves
and he seems happy enough now.
With the pigs and the cattle sorted,
it's time to turn my attention to our rare breed rams.
Go on, boys. Right, Peg, here.
Good girl. Here. Good girl. Peg, that'll do.
Peg's helping me get them in so I can sort through
a few of the breeds to decide which ones to keep and which ones to sell.
These little sheep originate from the island of Boreray
off the north-west coast of Scotland
and they're a hardy little primitive breed.
They say that a ram is 50% of your flock because he'll mate with
all of the ewes and his genetics will stay in your flock
for generations, so we take a lot of pride
and care in choosing good ones to sell on to other breeders.
So this little fella has got good teeth,
good physique, he's a perfect example of the breed,
and I think he'll sell very well at the Melton Mowbray Rare Breed Sale
in the autumn. When it comes to breeding pedigree animals,
this is part of the job that I really enjoy,
knowing that our rams could be sold to flocks all
across the country and help in the work of rare breeds conservation.
The Dartmoor pony has been a feature of this wild
and rugged landscape for millennia.
They're a hardy breed, well-suited to this environment.
Their toughness made them great work horses,
hauling stone in the quarries,
or working as pit ponies in the tin mines.
But now there is little work for them to do,
the ponies themselves have little value.
Of the more than 700 foals born each year, more than half are shot.
So is there another way?
We've already heard how contraception may be one option,
or getting farmers more involved in their upkeep.
As I heard earlier, farmers need an incentive to keep them.
And one incentive may well divide opinion.
Charlotte Faulkner from the Dartmoor Hill Pony Association
thinks the answer is to eat them.
There'll be people watching this who won't be able to understand
why we need to eat ponies,
they'll be really against this.
It's really important that everyone recognises the value of these
ponies and, yeah, it would be awful if nobody threw their hands
up in horror at what we're doing.
They are wild ponies, it's like deer,
and they don't become domestic till we bring them in and then they
become our pets and then they definitely don't go for meat.
So this for you is essentially a farming and conservation issue.
Yeah, it really is.
They've got to have a value in the farming calendar
and we've got to create that.
And, for you, with no value,
-there's no future for the Dartmoor ponies.
-There's no future.
There's no future for ponies on Dartmoor
if we cannot create that value
because we cannot carry on shooting them in the year of their birth,
it's really very serious.
Nobody wants to do that.
So is eating them really the answer?
Well, it's found favour where you might least expect it.
Joss, you are a vegetarian and you're selling pony meat.
How does that work?
I know how important this is to keep our free-roaming
ponies on our commons on Dartmoor
and it's not a new concept
that whatever you eat is what you sustain.
I like to think that I need to buy UK watercress
because those watercress beds have been farmed for centuries,
hanging off them is a whole ecological web of wildlife
and a landscape and I can sustain that by eating the watercress.
And for meat-eaters, this is exactly the same concept.
Well, Ashley, there must be some quite interesting flavours
-in this meat.
-I'd say it's ever so slightly gamey.
It's a cross between beef and venison.
I prefer it over all other meats just because my palate has got
so used to normal meats. This is something different for the palate.
So you say it tastes nice. Is it nutritional?
It's high in omega three, it's low in calories.
As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the best meats you can eat.
OK, well, I'm going to have a little bit of the burger, I think.
I'm not sure how I feel about this,
but here goes.
Mm. I see what you mean.
It's not quite beef, it's not quite venison,
it's somewhere in the middle.
And because I'm trained to either identify beef
or venison or lamb or... I feel like I want to say it's beef,
but it's not quite, it's just off that.
Joss, how's it gone down with the public?
I get 85% of people saying that they think it's a good idea
for conservation, they get the link,
and now that I've been selling it for a year, I'm getting more
and more people coming back to my place just to buy pony meat.
When you say 85%, is that just from what you remember
-or are they actually doing a survey?
-No, I have actually done a little
survey of my own, just out of interest,
so that you can quote numbers, it's not just my opinion.
Whilst pony meat may not be to everyone's taste,
it may well provide farmers with the income
they need to keep Dartmoor ponies here on the moor.
Now, it's been a really changeable day here.
What's in store for the week ahead?
Here's the Countryfile five-day forecast.
I've been exploring the Dartmoor Artisan Trail,
a new trail linking many of the artists and craftspeople living
and working in the national park.
And my last stop on the Artisan Trail involves steel,
fire and brute force.
Greg Abel always had a passion for blacksmithing,
but it was while working as a software engineer in London
that he saw this old forge for sale.
It was love at first sight. Just two days after seeing it,
he swapped keyboard and mouse for hammer and anvil.
Now he makes his living as a blacksmith.
-Lovely to see you.
-What a place.
I feel like I've travelled back in time.
Yes, it's 150 years' worth of forging
been going on in here, six generations of a local family.
And now you're part of this fantastic Artisan Trail here.
-Which is great.
-You're basically the reason it all started, aren't you?
I've been led to believe that, yeah.
There's so many fantastic craftsmen and artisans on the moor...
I just think it's great to introduce them maybe to a wider public.
To find out what it's all about,
I'm going to try my hand at making a fire poker.
How long do you leave the steel in before it's ready to bash?
It's all to do really with the colour.
Cherry red to orange, up to yellow,
and then finally virtually white-hot.
That's why quite often blacksmiths' forges are dark,
so the smith can see what colour the metal is.
Wow, sparks are flying from the actual rod.
-Well, that's about ready to go.
-Yep. Where shall I stand?
If you want to just stand back there, I'm going to be working here.
-There shouldn't be too many sparks.
So I'm going to start making the taper.
-So do you fancy having a go at the next bit?
I'm sorry. I'm sorry, steel!
Oh, I'm rubbish.
A bit terrified, but it's OK.
I think that's only natural, really.
Yeah. IT'S only natural, I'm not a natural.
-So you have to work quite fast.
-You need to have quite a bit
of welly in your hands as well. I think I was being a bit limp.
First time up, it's just difficult to know how hard you need to go.
So we'll do the point first.
I'll just start by forming the first curve.
-So do you want to have a go at that?
-I'm going to try.
-OK, so this way.
Back to there and then...
And that's it. That's it.
If I grab it here and not be so afraid...
That's quite hot. Right, let's get that back in.
John makes it all look oh so very easy.
-So that's the handle done.
It looks so delicate. It's like you've just twisted it wonderfully.
Now for a really fun bit.
OK, twist away.
-OK. Here we go.
-Yeah, that's great.
-Yeah, yeah, keep going.
Let's have about six.
SHE GROANS What?!
-Let's try and make it equal.
-Just a little bit more.
-Bit more. Bit more if you can.
That's it. Whoa.
-Back a bit.
-Back a bit.
-Yeah, they're all even, all the way down pretty much.
That looks great.
That was cool.
Are you sure you've not done it before?
HE LAUGHS Just twisting that metal,
-there's something really satisfying about that.
-It is, isn't it?
Why are you bashing it on wood and not on the anvil?
Because if you bash it on the anvil, you'll take the sharp edges
that we've made, that are still remaining on the twist.
-And, as they are so crisp,
it's nice to keep them, so wood on wood works.
-Smells good, too.
-It does, doesn't it?
But it's not a poker till it's got a point. Time to give it some welly.
OK, let's see what we've got there.
-I've made a hash of it, that's what I've done.
Well, we both made a hash of it, if a hash has been made.
-But I don't think so.
-Has it not?
-Not really, no.
-Good. That looks good to me.
A thorough quenching sets the metal and that's it, my first ever poker.
-You've done a good job.
-Have I? Thank you.
I made that.
It's not bad.
A thoroughly satisfying experience
and a rare glimpse of master craftspeople at work.
-Hello, Sean, look what I've made.
-Look at that, that's amazing.
-I'm really impressed with this. Even the level of detail.
-Are you sure you made it?
-I can't believe that you are even
-Full of surprises.
-..for a minute. Cheeky!
Anyhow, next week we will be at Blenheim Palace, bringing you
the very best of Countryfile Live, and I can't wait.
-I hope you can join us then.
Come on, there's more artisans to find.
-You can teach me...
Anita and Sean are in the rugged wilds of Dartmoor. Anita explores the Artisan Trail, a newly created route that links some of the area's best artists and craftspeople. She meets the blacksmith working out of a traditional forge, visits a community-supported farm providing locals with hearty seasonal veg and tries her hand spinning wool on an old-fashioned spinning machine. We also meet the printmaker who works out in the wild in all weathers.
Sean looks at native Dartmoor ponies and asks if there is a better alternative to culling unwanted foals at birth. He looks at two different options. One involves finding use for unwanted animals as therapy for people with learning difficulties, and the other, more controversially, suggests rearing the animals for meat.
Tom finds out what happens to the male calves born into dairy herds and looks at what can be done to ensure they have a useful and decent life. And with harvest just around the corner, Adam is taking stock down on his farm.