Leicestershire Countryfile


Leicestershire

Anita Rani visits Leicester University's herbarium to investigate the city's plants' past, present and future, and Tom Heap looks at the rural fire services.


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Transcript


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You may think winter is a

quiet time for our countryside,

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that nothing much happens

as the landscape lies dormant.

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But look more closely and

you may find some surprises.

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There's a floral phenomenon

happening that's baffling botanists.

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Spring flowers that are

blooming now in winter.

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So, like a horticultural Doctor Who,

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I'll be travelling

through plants past,

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present and future to find out why.

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Whilst I explore Leicestershire,

Steve's at Rutland Water

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to see the birds that are

flocking in their thousands.

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How do you count 4,000 birds?

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Usually with a click counter.

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But, but they move!

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We're on call with our

rural vets as they treat a cow

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with a twisted stomach.

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So now it's much easier for me

to bring the stomach back round

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and put it back where it should be.

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Tom's discovering

how every second counts

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when it comes to

fighting rural fires.

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Well, that really shows how a few

seconds can make the difference

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to the size of a blaze.

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And Adam's finding out about a

special breed of old English goat.

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So these are the famous

Arapawa goats.

They are, yes.

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Goodness me!

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Today, we're in the heart

of rural England.

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While Steve's over the

border in Rutland,

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I'm in neighbouring Leicester.

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This is the Sence Valley.

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Once an open cast coal mine,

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this place is now a haven

for woodland and wildlife.

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And some unseasonal surprises.

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Now you normally associate

wild flowers

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with the spring or the summer,

NOT the depths of winter,

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but there's a horticultural

head-scratcher going on.

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A mass of flowers blooming early.

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It goes against all the rules

in the botany bibles.

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So, for the past five years,

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Louise Marsh has been rallying

troops all over the country

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to take part in New Year Plant

Hunts, gathering valuable data.

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So what's this big drama that's

going on in the wild flower world?

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Well, our classic textbooks tell us

we should find 20-30 plants

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in bloom in the middle of winter.

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And in the last few years,

we've been finding 500-600.

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Cor, that's a huge difference!

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I know. It's absolutely

jaw-dropping, isn't it?

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So botanists like yourself, Louise,

must be very excited about this.

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We're really excited to find out

what's causing this and, really,

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to gather more evidence and to try

and work out why is this happening.

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So, how are you doing that? How are

you going to gather the evidence?

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We've got people across the country,

botanists and non-botanists,

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just people going out,

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seeing what wild flowers

they can find and letting us know.

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What's the knock-on effect,

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if you're seeing wild flowers

growing at this time of year?

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This is what we want to find out

because, as you know, in ecology,

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everything's connected.

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You've got butterflies using wild

flowers as food plants,

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you've got pollinators,

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how are they going to be impacted

if things are flowering

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at different times?

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The changing climate is one

possible reason and volunteers like

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Jack Riggall are helping

piece together more clues.

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What's this?

So these were male

catkins for the hazel here.

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And then they've got

the female flowers...

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Ah, just there!

..just

coming out of the buds there.

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So they're very small.

That's a good spot.

Yeah.

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So you've got the male flowers

and the female flowers.

Yeah.

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Yes! I can see the little bits

sticking out. Wonderful.

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When would that normally bloom?

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Kind of February, March.

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Yeah, it's a good month early.

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Great. Well done.

Yeah.

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People up and down the country

are sharing their discoveries

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through a special

New Year Plant Hunt app.

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Ciara and Ellen are part of

the social media support team.

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Can you show me some of the stuff

that you've got coming in?

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Yeah, of course.

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This is a wild clary, normally

a midsummer flowering plant.

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Wow!

So it's really, really early.

It's rare as well,

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so it's probably one of the least

expected plants that we'd find.

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That's the beauty of social

media, isn't it?

Yeah.

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Like, you've got

all these volunteers

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collecting this information and

instantly at the touch of a button,

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you can see what's coming through.

Yeah.

It's fantastic.

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It's not only the number of

species flowering that's unusual.

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It's also the size of some of them,

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as nine-year-old Elizabeth

Widdowson found out

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on a recent hunt.

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So, what did you find?

A shepherd's purse.

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And what was so unusual

about your shepherd's purse?

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It was so tall.

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How tall was it?

A meter and one centimetre.

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The tallest in Europe.

The tallest in Europe.

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Wow! Fantastic.

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So why do you enjoy

looking at flowers?

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Cos it's good family time and we

all like the pretty colours

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of the flowers.

It's just a great

thing to do and get out and about

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at this time of year.

See you later.

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People aren't just searching

in rural areas.

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They're out in cities too.

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And in the centre of Leicester,

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they're finding autumn flowers

like wormwood and scentless mayweed

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and early bloomers

like eastern rocket.

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Winter wild flowers don't

just give colour to concrete,

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they also have unexpected benefits

for volunteers like Richard Mabbutt.

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What have you found?

It's a cornflour.

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Oh, wow! That's beautiful.

Yeah,

it's a lovely purple, isn't it?

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Isn't that gorgeous?

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And so why do you do this?

Why have you got involved?

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For the love of plants, mainly,

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and it helps me to de-stress

as well, you know.

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I get a lot of stress and anxiety

and I find getting out amongst

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plants really helps me.

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So you've noticed an improvement

in your own wellbeing,

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in your own mental health?

Absolutely, yes. Yeah.

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That's remarkable.

Yeah.

I love the smile as well.

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It's like, "Yes, if

you don't believe me,

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"look at the smile on my face."

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And whilst hunting with Russell

Perry, we spot a real gem.

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That's Austrian camomile.

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This one has not been found in

flower anywhere else in the country

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at this time of the year, so

this is really quite exceptional.

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That's quite a big deal, then.

It is, it is.

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In fact, it's such a big deal,

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we really ought to take at least

one specimen for the herbarium

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to preserve it and press it.

Do they not have one?

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I don't think they do at the moment,

no, so this is quite exciting.

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Out it comes. Oh, yeah!

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Beautiful.

Perfect. Great.

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Wild flowers look beautiful

where they are

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but we've got permission to pick

this as data from plant hunts

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is crucial for the future

of our flowers.

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I'll find out more later.

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But first...

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..fires in the countryside are

causing more damage than ever before

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and it's taking the fire

brigade longer to respond to them.

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So what is going on? Here's Tom.

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Space.

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Peace.

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Beauty.

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Just some of the plus points

of living in the countryside.

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But there are downsides too.

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Because all it takes is

one little spark

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and devastation can tear through

homes, farms, and the landscape.

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When it comes to fires, remote

communities are at increasing risk.

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According to government figures,

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response times by the Fire

and Rescue Service

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to fires in rural areas have

gone up over the last five years.

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Here in North Wales,

they're up by two and a half minutes

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and across the whole of Wales

by 59 seconds.

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In England, the rise is 48 seconds

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and that's double

the increase in our cities.

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Seconds, even minutes, might not

seem like much, but just look at

this.

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On the stove is a pan of oil.

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BEEPING

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It overheats and ignites

in just a few seconds.

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Throwing on water is a big mistake.

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Oh!

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Well, that really shows how a few

seconds can make the difference

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to a size of a blaze.

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But that doesn't just apply to

what could happen in your kitchen,

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it could be your garden shed,

your car, or even a hay barn.

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Seconds make all the difference.

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And on farms where people live

and work, the losses can be huge.

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NFU Mutual say that in 2016

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there was a massive 26% hike in the

cost of farm fires to £44 million.

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They say that's directly linked

to longer response times.

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So why this increase?

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Well, one possible reason is that

almost all rural fire stations

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in the UK are unmanned and

staffed entirely by retained

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or on-call firefighters,

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and finding people to do

that job is getting harder.

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Pete Preston is watch manager

at Colwyn Bay Fire Station

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and has been a retained firefighter

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and part of the fire brigade's

union for decades.

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So, Pete, what actually is

a retained firefighter?

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A firefighter that provides cover

on an on-call basis in, usually,

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in a rural community.

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And could that be for just a

couple of hours, or, you know,

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ten or 20 hours a week, sometimes?

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It's usually for a

little longer than that.

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It's usually, it could be

for up to 120 hours a week.

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Front. At ease.

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On-call firefighters

aren't volunteers.

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They're paid a retainer fee

of around £3,000 a year,

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plus an hourly rate

when they're called out.

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The retained duty system

was launched in the 1800s

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but really came into

its own during the Blitz.

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Life in those days revolved

around the local community

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with most people

working close to home.

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NEWSREEL:

Many were part-timers

who responded to the siren's call

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after a day's work in our vital

factories, offices and shops.

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But times have changed and today,

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finding people who live and work

within five minutes

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of a rural fire station is tough.

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Do you think this struggle to get

hold of retained firefighters

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is impacting on response times?

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Without a doubt, it's having some

effect in a number of areas.

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It's significantly more difficult

to maintain

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good 24/7 cover in rural areas,

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compared to 20, 25 years ago.

Yeah.

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Despite the difficulties,

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thankfully some people are

still taking up the challenge.

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Like Brian Roberts,

a farmer in Bala, Snowdonia.

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Hi, Brian.

Hi.

You look hard at

work.

You all right?

Yeah, yeah.

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So tell me, I mean, what's a typical

day like on the farm for you?

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Well, I need to feed the sheep,

then I feed the cattle and then

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on to other jobs after.

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Fencing, maintenance.

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So why have you chosen

to take on extra work

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as a retained firefighter as well?

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Oh, just the extra income helps

and being part of a team,

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you get to talk to different

kinds of people.

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There's butchers, there's wardens.

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It's something different to farmers.

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Brian's going to show me

what happens

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when he gets an alert at work.

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He has just a few minutes

to get to the station.

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It's interesting, as you say, when

the bleeper goes off, you don't...

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..you have no idea

what the emergency could be?

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No. Could be a mountain fire,

it could be a...

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..road smash. It could be

a house fire,

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it could be anything under the sun.

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And ready to go.

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Of course, you know, there could be

some nasty things out there,

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but is there a sort of a feeling, in

a way, of helping the community?

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Yes, because you've got an idea

who lives where

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and you're going to help out.

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Thanks to on-call firefighters

like Brian,

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we have local crews tackling

fires across our countryside,

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day in and day out.

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But with fewer people willing

or able to make that commitment,

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how can we make sure that

our rural fire stations

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have enough staff to cut

those growing waiting times?

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That's what I'll be

finding out later.

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Now, it's not the first time

we've been to Leicestershire.

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The last time Helen was there,

she stumbled across its long

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and explosive history

in Charnwood Forest.

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It's kind of hard to imagine, isn't

it, that 600 million years ago,

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this was a volcanic island

in the southern hemisphere?

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This was a time before our planet

bore any resemblance

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to what we see now.

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Over hundreds of millions of years,

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forces from deep within the Earth

split the tectonic plates.

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Continents shifted, colliding

as they moved around the globe.

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These violent geological processes

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laid the ground

for an incredible find.

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Nearly 60 years ago,

a bunch of Leicestershire schoolboys

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stumbled upon one

the greatest finds

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in the history of palaeontology.

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Roger Mason was 15 at the time.

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The fossil he and his friends

found was to change everything.

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Roger, take me back

to 1957, on that day.

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Yes.

What were you doing?

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I left after school with

two school friends,

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Richard Blatchford

and Richard Allen.

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And we cycled to Charnwood Forest

to go rock climbing

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and I went to the top of the

crag to lower the rope,

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and Blatch called up and said,

"I think I've found a fossil."

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But it wasn't until Roger

returned to the site

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with local geologist

Trevor Ford

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that the discovery

could be confirmed.

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Roger's father recorded this

momentous event in his diary.

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Wow! So this was your dad's diary.

That's my dad's diary.

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There you are. That's the day.

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"Pick up Dr Ford to check

on 'the fossil'."

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Love the way he's written "the

fossil" in quotation marks.

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Quotation marks, yeah.

And then, "Seems genuine".

Yes!

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The fossil was named

in Roger's honour,

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Charnia masoni, and it helped

confirm one of the most important

0:15:350:15:40

scientific theories of all time.

0:15:400:15:43

Darwin's theory of evolution

stated that all life developed

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from simple organisms but for

Darwin, there was a problem.

0:15:500:15:55

He had no proof.

0:15:550:15:57

The earliest fossils were of complex

life forms that appeared all at once

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in the Cambrian period,

half a billion years ago.

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Roger had just found

the missing link,

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a simpler organism that predated

anything that had been found before.

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Darwin's dilemma was solved.

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The phrase I think he used is,

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"The seas must have swarmed

with living organisms"

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and indeed they did.

0:16:230:16:24

And you found evidence of that.

Yes.

0:16:240:16:27

Is it fair to say that you found a

missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle?

0:16:270:16:30

I think it is, yes.

It definitely is!

0:16:300:16:32

ROGER LAUGHS

0:16:320:16:36

Mr Humble!

OK!

0:16:320:16:36

Charnia masoni has been heralded

as the most significant fossil find

0:16:400:16:45

in human history.

0:16:450:16:47

And Charnwood Forest has become

a world-leading site

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for new discoveries.

0:16:490:16:51

Dr Philip Wilby from the

British Geological Survey

0:16:520:16:55

is going to tell me more.

0:16:550:16:58

Charnia masoni was one of the very

first creatures that lived on Earth,

0:16:580:17:04

which was large and complex.

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So this is a replica of the fossil

that Roger Mason found.

0:17:060:17:10

To my inexperienced eye,

that looks like a leaf.

0:17:100:17:13

Is it a living, breathing, walking

thing? What did they do?

0:17:130:17:16

They're a complete mystery

at the moment.

0:17:160:17:18

We don't really know anything

about how these organisms,

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these creatures, lived. We don't

know how they made their living.

0:17:210:17:24

We don't know how they reproduced.

0:17:240:17:26

We don't know how they dispersed

round the world.

0:17:260:17:28

Why is it so important?

0:17:280:17:29

It's important because it's

one of the first times

0:17:290:17:32

that we knew that there were large,

complex creatures on planet Earth.

0:17:320:17:37

By large, complex creatures, what do

you mean, because before this,

0:17:380:17:41

they were only microorganisms?

0:17:410:17:44

That's right, so this was a time

when life changed from one

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which was dominated

by single celled,

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very simple, minute organisms,

to one when all of a sudden,

0:17:490:17:54

there was a big flowering of life

and we had large complex organisms.

0:17:540:17:58

My brain hurts, but I think that's

cos there's so many questions!

0:17:580:18:01

With little on Earth

to compare it to,

0:18:050:18:07

Roger's fossil really poses more

questions than it answers,

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which is why scientists from all

over the world continue to look

0:18:110:18:15

to Charnwood Forest for more clues.

0:18:150:18:18

The rocks of Charnwood Forest

are hugely significant.

0:18:180:18:21

Without them, we wouldn't understand

as much as we do about the evolution

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of early life and that's all

thanks to a chance discovery

0:18:250:18:28

by a group of teenage boys.

0:18:280:18:30

In a series of special films,

0:18:350:18:37

we're spending time

with a team of rural vets

0:18:370:18:39

and seeing what it takes

to look after our livestock

0:18:390:18:42

in the harshest of months.

0:18:420:18:44

Winter.

0:18:440:18:46

It never happens.

0:18:460:18:47

The practice is based

in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.

0:18:470:18:49

It's one of the largest

in the country

0:18:490:18:51

with around 40 vets providing

care to all creatures,

0:18:510:18:55

great and small.

0:18:550:18:56

Wahey!

0:18:560:18:58

We'll track the trials

and tribulations...

0:18:580:19:00

Steady, girl.

0:19:000:19:02

..through the blood,

sweat and tears...

0:19:020:19:04

Good boy, good boy, good boy.

Good lad!

0:19:040:19:06

..to see what it takes

to be a country vet.

0:19:060:19:09

And just to let you know,

0:19:120:19:14

some of what they do isn't

for the faint-hearted.

0:19:140:19:16

Will Sommerville is an experienced

vet who specialises in cattle.

0:19:240:19:28

He's had an emergency call-out.

0:19:280:19:31

A cow, after a difficult calving,

0:19:310:19:33

has been left with

a twisted stomach,

0:19:330:19:35

or as it's known in the trade,

an LDA.

0:19:350:19:37

So if you're after a quick biology

lesson of a cow's stomach,

0:19:370:19:40

here's Will to fill you in.

0:19:400:19:43

An LDA stands for

left displaced abomasum.

0:19:430:19:45

Initially, we've got the rumen,

0:19:450:19:46

which is a large fermentation vessel

and from there,

0:19:460:19:49

the food will go out of there

into the other compartments,

0:19:490:19:52

one of which is the abomasum,

0:19:520:19:54

which normally sits on the

right-hand side of the cow

0:19:540:19:56

and sometimes this can get displaced

0:19:560:19:58

and it'll go underneath the rumen

and get stuck on the left.

0:19:580:20:01

So the plan here is that we're

just prepping up for surgery,

0:20:030:20:06

where I go in,

0:20:060:20:08

and bring the abomasum round

with my arm

0:20:080:20:11

and attach it back

to where it should be

0:20:110:20:14

on the right-hand side.

0:20:140:20:15

So with doing surgery on farm,

0:20:160:20:18

it's trying to be as clean

as you can

0:20:180:20:21

but it's never going to

be 100% sterile,

0:20:210:20:24

so clipping the hair off the area

where we're doing the surgery

0:20:240:20:27

is going to make it a lot cleaner.

0:20:270:20:29

So we've got a few injections

to give

0:20:310:20:32

just before doing the operation.

0:20:320:20:35

This first one I'm giving here's a,

0:20:350:20:36

this is an anti-inflammatory pain

relief drug

0:20:360:20:39

and it will, after the operation,

make her feel as though

0:20:390:20:43

nothing's happened, hopefully.

0:20:430:20:45

We've got some antibiotic here,

cos as I say,

0:20:460:20:49

doing a surgery on-farm,

0:20:490:20:51

never going to be 100% sterile, so

antibiotics are necessary and then,

0:20:510:20:57

lastly, some local anaesthetic,

where we're going to go in.

0:20:570:21:01

So the hole we're making, really,

0:21:010:21:02

just needs to be about the size

to fit my arm through,

0:21:020:21:05

so I can reach round and

grab the stomach. It doesn't...

0:21:050:21:08

We don't need to make it

much bigger than that.

0:21:080:21:10

So I'm just going to

scrub myself as well

0:21:110:21:14

and try and make sure I'm

as clean as possible.

0:21:140:21:17

With my left arm, I've got

to unfortunately

0:21:170:21:19

be up to my shoulder, so...

0:21:190:21:21

..everything, including the armpit,

has to be scrubbed.

0:21:210:21:25

So now the prep work's done,

we can get started.

0:21:250:21:28

I'm going to go through the skin...

0:21:280:21:30

..and once we're through the skin,

we get into the muscle layers.

0:21:310:21:34

Now we've made the hole,

it's, er, put my arm round,

0:21:370:21:41

so it's going round

the back of the rumen,

0:21:410:21:43

which is a big fermentation vessel

in there, putting it round,

0:21:430:21:46

so I'm feeling the stomach, which

is very full of gas and quite...

0:21:460:21:50

..quite high up here.

0:21:500:21:53

Unfortunately, you can't see much

0:21:530:21:54

but it was all happening

on the inside and, yeah,

0:21:540:21:57

you have to be trusting that

the cow's going to stand

0:21:570:22:00

and behave itself and

not try and kick

0:22:000:22:02

or run off while your arm's there!

0:22:020:22:05

This is very gassed up

and I think that's what...

0:22:050:22:07

We're going to have to deflate it.

0:22:070:22:09

It's a bit like trying to push

a volleyball underwater

0:22:090:22:12

and round and me being a bit feeble,

I'm not strong enough.

0:22:120:22:16

So with that, we're going

to reach round...

0:22:190:22:21

..put the needle into

the top of the abomasum

0:22:230:22:25

and all the gas that's inside the

stomach is going to...

0:22:250:22:29

..come outside the cow.

0:22:290:22:31

HISSING

0:22:290:22:31

I can just hear it, hear it

flowing through there.

0:22:310:22:33

And so, once we let the gas out, all

that buoyancy will go and it should,

0:22:330:22:36

the stomach should drop to the

bottom of the abdomen

0:22:360:22:39

and it'll be much easier for me

to then pull it back round.

0:22:390:22:41

So now all the gas

has been taken out,

0:22:430:22:46

it's much easier for me to

bring the stomach back round

0:22:460:22:50

and put it back where it should be.

0:22:500:22:53

Then once we manage to

get the stomach round,

0:22:590:23:01

it's a case of fixing it in place

and stitching the muscle layers

0:23:010:23:05

and the skin and closing the hole.

0:23:050:23:06

Well, she shouldn't be able

to feel anything

0:23:060:23:08

with the local I've done and,

usually, if you've done the local

0:23:080:23:11

and you've missed a bit,

they let you know about it,

0:23:110:23:13

so I don't want to jinx it, but she

seems to have been very quiet.

0:23:130:23:17

And the final touch,

0:23:230:23:25

this is a bit of, er...

0:23:250:23:28

..antibiotic spray...

0:23:280:23:29

..on the outside, just to

prevent any infection getting in.

0:23:300:23:34

And that's her done.

0:23:340:23:35

It went well and it was nice to see

her eating straightaway after

0:23:400:23:44

and looking like not

much had happened,

0:23:440:23:45

which makes you feel like

it's gone well at the time.

0:23:450:23:48

Just down the road, one of

the team's equine vets, Angela,

0:23:570:24:00

is checking on a pony that's

also having stomach issues.

0:24:000:24:04

She's catching up with owner

Alex Hambleton Burnett

0:24:040:24:07

to see how Titch is doing.

0:24:070:24:09

Morning, Alex.

Oh, morning, Angela,

how are you?

0:24:090:24:11

I'm good, thanks. How are you?

Good, good.

0:24:110:24:13

He looks really well.

Yeah.

0:24:130:24:15

Hi, darling. Good boy.

0:24:150:24:17

Titch had had three episodes

of colic in a two-week period,

0:24:180:24:20

so his owners were quite concerned.

0:24:200:24:22

Colic is just a sign

of abdominal pain

0:24:220:24:25

and it can be life-threatening

in certain situations.

0:24:250:24:27

You are so...

He's so grumpy.

0:24:270:24:30

He hasn't had any breakfast.

Good boy.

0:24:300:24:32

When I first saw Titch, he

had some quite nasty ulcers

0:24:320:24:35

on the lining of his stomach,

0:24:350:24:37

so we prescribed him a drug

that suppresses acid production,

0:24:370:24:40

so it reduces the acidity

of his stomach

0:24:400:24:43

and allows his ulcers to heal.

0:24:430:24:44

Good boy.

0:24:440:24:46

Started looking into the reasons

why ponies get stomach ulcers.

0:24:460:24:49

Normally, it's because if

they're kept in the stable a lot

0:24:490:24:52

and they don't have enough grass and

hay, whereas Titch mostly lives out.

0:24:520:24:57

He's got unlimited grass and hay.

0:24:570:24:59

So the other big reason that horses

can get stomach ulcers is stress

0:24:590:25:03

and so, suggested he might be lonely

and he might want a companion.

0:25:030:25:07

So they got him an unbelievably cute

0:25:070:25:10

miniature Shetland pony

called Tango,

0:25:100:25:12

who's about knee-high and is just

the sweetest thing you've ever seen.

0:25:120:25:17

And it certainly has helped

relieve his stress levels,

0:25:170:25:19

which can be a risk factor in

causing gastric ulcers in horses.

0:25:190:25:22

So cute!

0:25:230:25:25

And no signs of colic since

we last saw him, nothing at all?

0:25:250:25:28

No, no. He's been absolutely fine.

0:25:280:25:31

So, are we expecting the ulcers to

have cleared up or to have improved?

0:25:310:25:34

I would hope that

they've completely...

0:25:340:25:35

Completely gone?

Yeah, absolutely.

0:25:350:25:37

The fact that he's a lot better

0:25:370:25:39

makes me think that

they'll have all gone.

0:25:390:25:41

Good boy.

0:25:410:25:42

Brave man.

There we go.

0:25:460:25:47

So, should get nice and sleepy, hey?

And then you won't know anything

0:25:470:25:50

about not having breakfast,

will you?

0:25:500:25:52

HORSE SNORTS

0:25:520:25:54

During a gastroscope,

we'll pop a scope up their nose,

0:25:540:25:57

down into their oesophagus and into

their stomach and we have a look at

0:25:570:26:01

the lining of their stomach.

0:26:010:26:02

So we're going down his oesophagus.

0:26:050:26:07

Good boy.

So you can see all the

nice longitudinal muscles,

0:26:080:26:11

as we go down.

0:26:110:26:13

Good boy. So Tich has been really

well starved,

0:26:130:26:15

so we can see everything

that we need to see. Perfect.

0:26:150:26:19

That's a lovely shot.

0:26:190:26:20

So, you can see here,

0:26:200:26:22

Alex, that's the lesser curvature of

his stomach and that's where he had

0:26:220:26:26

all those nasty ulcers

and abrasions before.

0:26:260:26:28

We've got nothing there at all that

I'm worried about at the moment.

0:26:280:26:31

Gosh, so they've all gone

completely?

Yeah, absolutely.

0:26:310:26:34

Yeah. There's nothing. There's

absolutely nothing there at all.

0:26:340:26:37

It is really satisfying to see the

difference

0:26:370:26:39

between the two gastroscopes,

0:26:390:26:41

only four weeks apart.

0:26:410:26:43

The ulcers weren't even apparent

at all at the second scope,

0:26:430:26:46

so it was really satisfying.

0:26:460:26:47

Good boy.

Good boy.

What a brave man!

0:26:490:26:51

Good boy, good boy.

0:26:510:26:53

Big success story. And we're very,

0:26:550:26:57

very grateful and pleased to have

found out what was wrong with him.

0:26:570:26:59

He's our little superstar.

0:26:590:27:01

Tich responded really well

to his medication

0:27:010:27:03

and is now back out competing

with his little jockey, India,

0:27:030:27:06

and they're getting on really well.

0:27:060:27:08

It's lovely to see them both

working together.

0:27:080:27:10

Next week, we'll see this job really

is a matter of life and death

0:27:130:27:17

as Will and Georgia are called out

0:27:170:27:19

to save the life of a

cow and her calf.

0:27:190:27:22

Now, earlier, we heard how rural

fire stations are under strain,

0:27:280:27:32

so what can be done to improve

response times?

0:27:320:27:34

Here's Tom.

0:27:340:27:36

Rural fires are causing more

costly damage than ever before.

0:27:410:27:45

But over in Wiltshire,

0:27:500:27:51

they're working to prevent fires

from starting in the first place.

0:27:510:27:55

Which is why station manager for

Salisbury and Wilton Jason Moncrieff

0:27:550:27:59

is here in Devizes for

a farm safety visit.

0:27:590:28:04

Hi, there.

0:28:040:28:05

Good to see you, Jason.

Hi, Tom.

Nice to meet you.

Nice to see you.

0:28:050:28:08

Farmer Adrian White is keen

to safeguard his business.

0:28:080:28:11

Hi, Adrian. Thanks for having

us here today.

Pleasure.

0:28:130:28:15

Straight away, there was a few bits

I wanted to talk to you about.

0:28:150:28:18

Right.

So we have a couple of

vehicles here,

0:28:180:28:21

right next to a stack of straw.

0:28:210:28:24

So, the straw,

obviously very flammable.

0:28:240:28:27

Right.

The vehicles themselves

represent a fire risk to us,

0:28:270:28:30

so should there be a fire, should

one of the vehicles have a fault,

0:28:300:28:33

hot engine, hot exhaust,

they can easily ignite the straw.

0:28:330:28:37

And I gather you have some

experience of a fire on your farm?

0:28:370:28:39

Not actually this property,

but another one?

0:28:390:28:42

Yeah, on another property,

last year, we had a barn fire

0:28:420:28:44

where some children were smoking

in the barn and unfortunately, yes,

0:28:440:28:48

set it alight and the Fire Brigade

were very good.

0:28:480:28:50

Hay barn fires like Adrian's are a

major strain for rural firefighters,

0:28:550:28:59

and they can take days to put out.

0:28:590:29:01

That's why Jason thinks preventing

them is so important.

0:29:030:29:07

Have you been to one or two of

those?

A fair few.

0:29:070:29:09

You'd like to not go to another one,

if you could?

0:29:090:29:11

If at all possible,

0:29:110:29:12

not go to another barn

and stay there overnight.

0:29:120:29:14

But prevention will never

stop every fire,

0:29:160:29:19

and doesn't deal with

the recruitment crisis.

0:29:190:29:22

But some rural fire stations

are tackling this problem head-on.

0:29:220:29:26

Here in Buckinghamshire,

0:29:310:29:31

Here in Buckinghamshire,

0:29:310:29:33

they've managed to cut response

times by ten seconds.

0:29:330:29:36

How have they done it?

0:29:360:29:38

I've come to meet station commander

Andy Maloney in Olney to find out.

0:29:380:29:42

How's it going? Nice to see you.

0:29:420:29:44

So, tell me, how are you finding

getting retained firefighters here?

0:29:440:29:48

OK, we've made some quite

drastic changes.

0:29:480:29:50

We're now using things

like Facebook, Twitter,

0:29:500:29:52

to try and get out.

0:29:520:29:54

We've got a proactive manager here

that actually supports the crew,

0:29:540:29:57

gets that message out

to local businesses, and so,

0:29:570:30:00

we're trying to make

some big changes.

0:30:000:30:02

Using social media is

starting to have an effect.

0:30:020:30:05

In the last year, they've recruited

three new firefighters,

0:30:050:30:09

taking their numbers up to ten.

0:30:090:30:12

What impact have these tactics

had on your response times?

0:30:120:30:15

We are finding that the response

times are coming down

0:30:150:30:18

and people are responding

a lot quicker.

0:30:180:30:20

But they still need to get more

people through the door, so today,

0:30:200:30:24

they're holding a have-a-go day,

where members of the public

0:30:240:30:27

who might be interested in

becoming an on-call firefighter

0:30:270:30:30

can find out if

they've got what it takes.

0:30:300:30:33

I'm joining potential new recruit

Tiffany Star in a fitness test.

0:30:340:30:38

Let's go, let's do it.

0:30:400:30:41

Keep going, keep going,

keep going, keep going.

0:30:450:30:48

HE SHOUTS

0:30:490:30:53

Keep going.

0:30:570:30:58

Place him on the floor when

we get back.

0:30:590:31:01

Well done, son. Well done.

Keep going.

0:31:010:31:04

Mine's quite light.

0:31:040:31:05

That's it, keep going. Keep going.

0:31:050:31:08

HE PANTS

0:31:110:31:13

Easy.

0:31:130:31:15

Oh! Well, that's quite a

toasty little work-out, there.

0:31:150:31:20

That was hard.

0:31:210:31:22

So, have we made the grade?

0:31:220:31:24

OK, so I'd like to say you've

all passed, so well done.

0:31:240:31:27

Hey, well done!

0:31:270:31:28

Well, it's tough.

It's not kind of impossible,

0:31:300:31:32

so people shouldn't be kind of

put off by this test, should they?

0:31:320:31:35

Oh, definitely not. I mean,

0:31:350:31:36

the idea of becoming an

on-call firefighter

0:31:360:31:38

is not about being superfit.

0:31:380:31:40

It's about being fit. Fit enough to

do the job to a good enough standard

0:31:400:31:43

and see you through your career.

0:31:430:31:45

And this applies to you,

whether you're 18 or 60.

0:31:450:31:47

And it hasn't put Tiffany off.

0:31:480:31:50

She is joining the service.

0:31:500:31:52

Our test is over, but while

we're still filming with the crew,

0:31:520:31:56

they get a real emergency call.

0:31:560:31:58

OK, this is a live fire call that's

come in now whilst we were here,

0:31:590:32:03

cos they were on duty.

0:32:030:32:04

Good. We'd better let them go.

0:32:040:32:06

SIREN WAILS

0:32:060:32:07

They're on the scene in

a matter of minutes.

0:32:110:32:13

OK, if you come this way.

0:32:130:32:15

Thankfully, nothing's ablaze,

but the crew prepare for the worst.

0:32:150:32:19

It turns out to be an

electrical heater,

0:32:210:32:23

which smoked but didn't catch fire.

0:32:230:32:25

Take the sets off, all right?

0:32:280:32:29

It's been very impressive to see

what Olney fire station

0:32:300:32:33

are doing to recruit more people.

0:32:330:32:35

And though all our rural

Fire Services are trying to adapt,

0:32:370:32:41

finding enough local people able

to do this job is a huge challenge.

0:32:410:32:46

Today, we're exploring

Leicestershire and Rutland.

0:32:530:32:55

Ellie was there a

couple of winters ago,

0:32:570:32:59

when she met colourful creatures

0:32:590:33:01

bringing a taste of South America

to the area.

0:33:010:33:03

Six years ago, businessman

Chris Deakin was watching -

0:33:070:33:11

you've guessed it -

Countryfile.

0:33:110:33:13

I absolutely love them!

0:33:130:33:15

Big eyes.

It's those big eyes that

look right into your soul, isn't it?

0:33:150:33:18

You've just got to love them.

0:33:180:33:19

That programme changed his life.

0:33:190:33:22

So, your alpaca story began, then,

0:33:230:33:25

when you were watching the

programme?

0:33:250:33:26

Yes. I was working in industry,

0:33:260:33:28

and I was looking to do

something different,

0:33:280:33:30

and we had the opportunity

of some land.

0:33:300:33:32

And I took the plunge and

I bought three or four alpacas.

0:33:320:33:35

Right.

And then,

very quickly after that,

0:33:350:33:37

I ended up going from the four

to about 55

0:33:370:33:40

in the space of about three months.

0:33:400:33:41

And his flock continues to grow.

0:33:440:33:47

Chris now farms around 80 alpacas.

0:33:470:33:49

As a bloodstock breeder,

0:33:510:33:53

he's always aiming to improve

the quality of his herd.

0:33:530:33:56

This fleece is what it's all about,

isn't it?

0:33:560:33:58

It is, indeed.

Beautiful.

0:33:580:34:00

Feel a little feel of that,

soft, soft, soft.

0:34:000:34:04

And there's a grading system,

isn't there?

0:34:040:34:06

Yeah, they are graded and

they grade one to five,

0:34:060:34:08

and it's a number of traits

that are taken into account.

0:34:080:34:11

The staple length, the crimp here,

going from end to end like that,

0:34:110:34:16

the uniformity of that length, and

all of these things produce a

0:34:160:34:19

very, very fine, very,

very high-quality product.

0:34:190:34:22

They're pretty placid, aren't they?

0:34:220:34:23

Are they quite easy to look after,

would you say?

0:34:230:34:25

They're used to that

hardy environment in the Andes.

0:34:250:34:28

Yeah.

So, they're low-maintenance

but like all animals,

0:34:280:34:30

it needs a lot of care.

Absolutely.

0:34:300:34:32

Alpaca fleece goes for more than

eight times the price of sheep wool,

0:34:340:34:38

but Chris has discovered that their

gentle nature has even more value

0:34:380:34:42

for those who really need it.

0:34:420:34:44

See the boys over there?

We're going to feed those first.

OK.

0:34:440:34:47

Pupils from Maplewell Hall

special school

0:34:470:34:50

visit the farm once a week

to enjoy the therapeutic benefits

0:34:500:34:54

that interacting with these placid,

affectionate creatures can bring.

0:34:540:34:58

Yeah!

0:34:580:35:00

Well, how did this project

come about?

0:35:000:35:02

Mel Ison is the assistant

headteacher.

0:35:030:35:05

What are the different

special needs of your pupils?

0:35:060:35:09

We have a range of different needs.

0:35:090:35:11

Our children are classed as

moderate learning difficulties.

0:35:110:35:14

Within that, we have visual

impairment, we have some physical,

0:35:140:35:17

just general learning needs, to

different behaviour needs, as well.

0:35:170:35:21

And what do they get out of

coming to somewhere like this?

0:35:210:35:24

It helps them to understand that

they can look after somebody else.

0:35:240:35:27

It helps them to regulate their

emotions, to talk and communicate,

0:35:270:35:31

using the animals, it helps them

just to talk about what is going on

0:35:310:35:35

in their minds and what

they think about different things.

0:35:350:35:37

Yeah, yeah. And how about

their behaviour,

0:35:370:35:40

once they get back to the classroom?

How's that different?

0:35:400:35:42

They're a lot more settled,

0:35:420:35:44

they're a lot more engaged in

what they're doing,

0:35:440:35:46

and that helps them, back in the

classroom, to make progress, too.

0:35:460:35:49

It's incredibly rewarding to see.

0:35:490:35:51

Yeah, definitely, and they really

enjoy it,

0:35:510:35:53

and they come back buzzing.

How wonderful.

0:35:530:35:55

So, yeah, it's really nice

to see them,

0:35:550:35:57

and really proud of what they've

done with the animals.

Lovely.

0:35:570:36:00

Come now.

0:36:000:36:01

There's another Ellie here today.

0:36:010:36:03

She's 12 and has autism.

0:36:030:36:06

I'm joining her in taking

two alpacas,

0:36:060:36:08

called Serafino and Michael,

for a walk.

0:36:080:36:11

What are the different jobs

that you've got to do?

0:36:110:36:14

Feeding them is the main one we do.

0:36:140:36:17

Yeah? Which is your favourite job?

0:36:170:36:19

Taking them for a walk.

0:36:190:36:21

Is it nice? What about

your least favourite?

0:36:210:36:23

Probably picking up the poo.

Poo picking!

0:36:230:36:26

SHE LAUGHS

0:36:260:36:28

Fair enough.

0:36:260:36:28

And do you look forward to

coming here?

0:36:280:36:30

Yeah.

Is it the best part

of your week?

0:36:300:36:32

Yeah. Cos I get to miss lessons!

0:36:320:36:34

SHE LAUGHS

0:36:340:36:35

Alpacas may be prized for their

valuable fleeces,

0:36:390:36:43

but to Chris and the children

of Maplewell Hall,

0:36:430:36:46

the value of these animals

is beyond price.

0:36:460:36:48

From alpacas to goats -

0:36:530:36:55

they're one of our oldest

and most adaptable species.

0:36:550:36:59

Adam's got many breeds

on his farm in the Cotswolds.

0:36:590:37:01

We've got about 80 goats

on the farm,

0:37:030:37:06

and they're incredible animals.

0:37:060:37:08

They're one of the first animals

that man domesticated, tamed,

0:37:080:37:12

and we've now been herding them

for around 9,000 years.

0:37:120:37:15

And they've adapted to every

continent around the world,

0:37:150:37:18

apart from Antarctica.

0:37:180:37:20

And here in the UK, they can cope

with our cold winters,

0:37:200:37:24

but thrive during the summer months.

0:37:240:37:26

Now, in here, I've just got to

catch this Boer goat,

0:37:260:37:30

because it's got a sore foot.

0:37:300:37:32

And this is a classic Boer.

0:37:360:37:38

They originate from South Africa,

0:37:380:37:40

and they're really a meat goat.

0:37:400:37:42

They've been developed over the

years for fast growth

0:37:420:37:45

and really good quality carcass,

0:37:450:37:47

and they're becoming quite

popular in the UK,

0:37:470:37:50

although we're more favoured

towards eating lamb and beef

0:37:500:37:53

than we are goat meat, over here.

0:37:530:37:55

But certainly, more people

are starting to keep them.

0:37:550:37:57

The Boer goat's popularity

means that numbers are on the up.

0:37:590:38:02

But there are some breeds here

that are becoming scarce.

0:38:030:38:06

The other breed I've got in

here are the Golden Guernseys,

0:38:070:38:12

aptly named because of

their lovely golden colour.

0:38:120:38:15

And I've got a billy here,

and I'll just try and catch him

0:38:150:38:18

and take a closer look at him.

0:38:180:38:20

Might take some catching!

0:38:200:38:22

Handy thing is, he's got these...

0:38:250:38:27

..handlebars!

Look at the amazing horns on him.

0:38:270:38:30

The Guernsey, unlike the Boer,

0:38:300:38:33

is a milk goat.

0:38:330:38:34

It produces a really rich, creamy,

high quality milk.

0:38:340:38:38

It can't compete

in a commercial world,

0:38:380:38:40

because it doesn't yield very well.

0:38:400:38:42

So they have become very rare,

but they're absolutely gorgeous.

0:38:420:38:46

I think they're a beautiful-looking

animal and lovely to keep,

0:38:460:38:49

particularly for the smallholder

wanting to produce their own milk.

0:38:490:38:52

We check our animals every day.

0:38:530:38:55

Go on, then, mate, off you go.

0:38:550:38:56

And I've just spotted a nanny who

looks like she might have a problem.

0:38:560:38:59

She should be easier to catch than

the billy we've just looked at.

0:38:590:39:02

BANJO MUSIC PLAYS

0:39:020:39:04

HE LAUGHS

0:39:050:39:06

Then again...

0:39:060:39:07

Try again!

0:39:080:39:10

So, this little nanny,

this little female,

0:39:170:39:20

has got a sore eye, and she may have

a thorn in it, or a bit of silage,

0:39:200:39:26

or something, so if I just carefully

squeeze the tops of her eyes,

0:39:260:39:31

it pushes her eyelids out.

0:39:310:39:33

And if there is anything in there,

it usually reveals itself.

0:39:330:39:37

I can't see anything in there.

0:39:370:39:40

All this crud around her eye,

I'll just push that off.

0:39:400:39:43

She's obviously been weeping

quite a lot. It's quite sore.

0:39:430:39:46

But the eyeball is still clear.

0:39:460:39:47

It hasn't gone cloudy, and the

white around it is looking OK.

0:39:470:39:51

So she's probably just had

a poke in the eye

0:39:510:39:53

from one of the horns

of these goats.

0:39:530:39:55

So I'll keep a real careful

eye on it, and if it does

0:39:550:39:57

start to become infected,

I'll put some cream in there,

0:39:570:40:00

or we can get some antibiotics,

or we can get the vet if we need to.

0:40:000:40:04

Looks a bit sore, missus,

doesn't it?

0:40:040:40:07

There's one breed here

as tough as old boots.

0:40:070:40:09

In this pen,

I've got our Bagot goats.

0:40:110:40:14

They're the black and white

ones here.

0:40:140:40:16

They were thought to have been

introduced to the country

0:40:160:40:18

by Richard the Lionheart when

he came back from his Crusades,

0:40:180:40:21

and they ended up at

Blithfield Hall,

0:40:210:40:23

kept by Lady Bagot,

hence their name.

0:40:230:40:25

And they're a lovely looking goat,

an ornamental parkland goat

0:40:250:40:28

that's not very good

at producing milk

0:40:280:40:30

and not very good at producing meat,

0:40:300:40:32

but they do look lovely,

and they're very hardy.

0:40:320:40:34

They can survive the

harshest of conditions.

0:40:340:40:36

We've had them on the farm

here since 1975.

0:40:360:40:39

My dad was really keen

to save them from extinction,

0:40:390:40:42

and started a small herd.

0:40:420:40:44

There's about 500 females left

in the country,

0:40:440:40:47

and we've got around 15 to 20 here,

0:40:470:40:49

so quite a significant amount,

when it comes to the national herd.

0:40:490:40:53

Right, I'll get these bedded down.

0:40:530:40:54

GOATS BLEAT

0:40:540:40:56

You might recall,

when I was in New Zealand,

0:40:580:41:00

I came across the last remnants of

an old English breed

0:41:000:41:03

living on a remote island.

0:41:030:41:05

I didn't know Arapawa goats

even existed.

0:41:050:41:08

So I just had to take a look.

0:41:090:41:11

It was Captain James Cook who took

the original animals there,

0:41:130:41:17

back in the 1770s.

0:41:170:41:18

Look, there's one, there's one.

On the beach, on the beach.

0:41:200:41:23

The goats on Arapawa Island today

are direct descendants.

0:41:230:41:25

That's amazing.

0:41:250:41:27

Since my visit, I found out

that this endangered breed

0:41:270:41:30

not only successfully made the

journey halfway round the world

0:41:300:41:33

to New Zealand, but remarkably,

also made it back again.

0:41:330:41:36

I'm at Mary Arden's farm

in Warwickshire.

0:41:390:41:41

The farm was the childhood home

of Shakespeare's mother, Mary Arden,

0:41:410:41:45

and now showcases many of

the old breeds

0:41:450:41:47

that would have been around

in the Bard's time.

0:41:470:41:50

I'm meeting with the

farm's manager, Andy Walker.

0:41:500:41:53

Andy used to work with the

rare breeds on my farm.

0:41:530:41:56

Andy, hi! Good to see you again.

Nice to see you.

0:41:560:41:59

So, are these the famous

Arapawa goats?

They are, yes.

0:41:590:42:02

Goodness me.

This is the billy goat

that's the father to the little one.

0:42:020:42:07

Yeah.

And Mum is on the end there.

Wow!

0:42:070:42:08

Yeah.

And Mum is on the end there.

Wow!

0:42:080:42:10

It's extraordinary, cos I didn't

know there were any in the UK.

0:42:100:42:14

They came back in 2004.

0:42:140:42:16

An enthusiast flew six back over.

0:42:160:42:19

All the ones we have now

came from those original six.

0:42:190:42:22

Crikey! And what sort of numbers

have we got to?

0:42:220:42:25

About 30, both male and female,

in the country at the moment.

0:42:250:42:28

So still very low numbers?

Very low numbers, yes.

0:42:280:42:32

Even so, these numbers

give cause for hope.

0:42:320:42:35

Arapawas are close to extinction.

0:42:350:42:38

There could be as few as

150 worldwide.

0:42:380:42:41

So the work Andy and his team

are doing is really encouraging.

0:42:410:42:44

Well, it's extraordinary that I've

been to the other side of the world

0:42:450:42:48

to look at them on the island,

and here they are,

0:42:480:42:50

just up the road from where I live!

0:42:500:42:52

And this is very similar to the one

we saw over there,

0:42:520:42:55

that we got up close to.

0:42:550:42:57

Remarkable looking creatures,

aren't they? Pretty tough.

0:42:570:43:00

Yes.

Well, it's lovely that you're

doing your part to look after them.

0:43:000:43:03

Fascinating little animals, and

if you get your numbers up a bit,

0:43:030:43:06

maybe you should be selling me

a couple.

0:43:060:43:08

Well, we'll see how we get on.

0:43:080:43:10

We'll keep in touch. All the best.

Nice to meet you.

Well done, Andy.

0:43:100:43:13

Thank you.

Cheers. Bye-bye.

0:43:130:43:14

Now, you might remember we're on the

hunt for a farming hero for 2018.

0:43:150:43:20

This year is Countryfile's

30th birthday, and to mark it,

0:43:300:43:30

This year is Countryfile's

30th birthday, and to mark it,

0:43:300:43:33

we're looking for the Countryfile

farming hero for 2018,

0:43:330:43:37

and as always, we need your help.

0:43:370:43:39

We're looking for farmers like Julia

Evans, our winner back in 2016.

0:43:410:43:45

I was given a prognosis,

0:43:470:43:49

it was just a 50% chance of

surviving beyond five years.

0:43:490:43:51

And I thought, "What, really,

do I want to do?

0:43:510:43:55

"I want to keep farming, but I don't

want to do it by myself any more."

0:43:550:43:58

Or perhaps you know somebody

like Cameron Hendry,

0:43:580:44:00

a finalist who gave up school

and took over the family farm

0:44:000:44:03

after his dad died suddenly.

0:44:030:44:05

It's been quite difficult recently.

0:44:050:44:07

I'm just getting on

with the job, really.

0:44:070:44:09

Well, I take my hat off to you.

0:44:090:44:10

I'm not sure, at 17, I'd have been

able to do what you're doing.

0:44:100:44:13

So, if you know someone

who goes above and beyond...

0:44:150:44:17

WHISTLES

0:44:170:44:19

..who makes a difference to others,

be they man or beast,

0:44:200:44:23

I really want to hear about

all farmers, young and old,

0:44:230:44:27

unsung heroes who deserve

national recognition.

0:44:270:44:30

And remember, it doesn't

just have to be one person.

0:44:320:44:34

You can nominate a family,

or even a group.

0:44:340:44:37

You can nominate them

by e-mail or post.

0:44:390:44:41

All of the details

are on our website,

0:44:410:44:43

along with the terms and conditions.

0:44:430:44:45

It's all part of the BBC's

Food and Farming Awards,

0:44:470:44:49

and the winner will be

announced later in the year.

0:44:490:44:52

But get your skates on.

0:44:540:44:56

Nominations close at midnight

on Monday the 29th of January.

0:44:560:44:59

Please don't send e-mail or

postal nominations after that date,

0:45:000:45:04

as they won't be considered.

0:45:040:45:06

And remember, if you are watching

on demand,

0:45:060:45:08

then nominations may

have already closed.

0:45:080:45:11

So, get in touch and tell us about

the people you want to celebrate and

0:45:110:45:15

help us find the Countryfile

Farming Hero for 2018.

0:45:150:45:19

The dim days of January may not

offer much

0:45:240:45:26

in terms of inspiration,

0:45:260:45:27

but they do provide a brilliant

backdrop for bird-watching.

0:45:270:45:30

Covering a thousand acres, Rutland

Water Nature Reserve has become

0:45:320:45:36

one of the most important places

for winter birds.

0:45:360:45:39

With wildfowl overwintering here,

0:45:420:45:44

it is the ideal time to spot your

smews from your shovelers.

0:45:440:45:47

This place was given an ecological

overhaul in the 1970s,

0:45:500:45:53

when these lagoons

and wetlands were created.

0:45:530:45:56

Before that,

it was just a dry valley.

0:45:560:45:58

For Dr Mat Cottam,

it has breathed new life

0:45:580:46:01

into a place that was once,

well, pretty dead.

0:46:010:46:04

Wow, Mat, first time to Rutland

0:46:050:46:07

and it is fair to say even for a

wetland,

0:46:070:46:09

it is pretty wet, isn't it?!

0:46:090:46:10

It is not bad, is it? Good weather

for ducks, though, I suppose.

0:46:100:46:14

What sort of numbers are we getting

here?

0:46:140:46:16

Well, the site is designated

for 20,000...

0:46:160:46:18

20,000?!

But on a good day

we can get nearly double that,

0:46:180:46:22

we can get 36,000 birds.

0:46:220:46:24

36,000 birds on site and you've

got to remember

0:46:240:46:27

that, 40 years ago, there wouldn't

have been any here at all.

0:46:270:46:29

Nothing like that at all.

0:46:290:46:31

It is a really nice example of what

can happen when industry and

0:46:310:46:34

conservation work together

in partnership,

0:46:340:46:36

and this is the end result.

0:46:360:46:38

Recent mild winters have been

attracting more birds here,

0:46:380:46:41

but this time of year a lot of

the birds we will be seeing

0:46:410:46:44

on Rutland Water will be coming down

from Scandinavia,

0:46:440:46:47

they might be coming from Siberia,

from Russia and Eastern Europe.

0:46:470:46:51

Their idea of a warm time is

an English winter.

0:46:510:46:54

Birds are not making the same

migrations that they used to.

0:46:560:46:59

If they can avoid travelling

those great distances, they will.

0:46:590:47:02

They are not daft.

0:47:020:47:03

The huge numbers of birds that come

here are counted and monitored by

0:47:050:47:09

Lloyd Park and his volunteers,

0:47:090:47:11

but I can't quite get my head

around how they do it.

0:47:110:47:14

How do you count 4,000 birds?

0:47:140:47:17

Usually with a click counter and

counting every single one

0:47:170:47:20

of that bird, right the way through,

through the end of a flock.

0:47:200:47:23

But they move!

They do.

0:47:250:47:27

And you have to move with them and

sometimes it is really frustrating.

0:47:270:47:30

Just as we are talking,

feathers start to ruffle.

0:47:350:47:37

What's happening down there?

0:47:370:47:39

Yeah, they are just responding

to a predator,

0:47:390:47:41

it may be an aerial predator or even

a fox close to us on the shoreline

0:47:410:47:45

that's come past and

they are swimming towards it.

0:47:450:47:48

Towards it?

Yeah, it's a strange thing.

0:47:480:47:50

A lot of wildfowl do, they'll come

towards a predator

0:47:500:47:53

in order to confuse it.

Yeah?

0:47:530:47:54

Yeah.

You wasn't too high

on your counting, was you?

0:47:540:47:57

No, I hope not. We'll have to start

again.

Start again!

0:47:570:47:59

Lately, Lloyd has been noticing some

new arrivals to the waters.

0:48:010:48:04

The more recent one is the great

white egret, which we're seeing

0:48:040:48:08

more and more of.

I have seen great

white egrets down in Spain

0:48:080:48:11

but I had no idea they were this far

up through Europe into the country.

0:48:110:48:15

It started appearing in the last few

years and what we have seen is them

0:48:150:48:19

breeding in parts of the UK now,

0:48:190:48:21

so last year there were seven pairs

bred and 17 young,

0:48:210:48:24

so hopefully in the future we'll see

more things like great white egrets

0:48:240:48:27

coming, especially as the

temperature and climate is changing.

0:48:270:48:30

We are seeing that with lots of

smaller species of birds,

0:48:300:48:33

so we'll see it

with the bigger ones as well.

0:48:330:48:35

Wow, when it comes to the counting,

0:48:350:48:37

I'll count the great egrets,

all right?

0:48:370:48:39

I'll leave you with the counter.

0:48:390:48:41

I reckon I can get to 17.

OK.

What are you going to be counting?

0:48:410:48:44

Shall I stick with those

few thousand coot out there?

0:48:440:48:47

Yeah, that's it! Meet you for a cup

of tea later!

OK, fair enough.

0:48:470:48:50

You get all the star species here,

from tufted ducks...

0:48:530:48:56

..to gadwalls. The reserve is well

managed for its winter guests

0:48:580:49:02

but we can all do something to help

the visitors

0:49:020:49:05

to our own gardens, too.

0:49:050:49:07

Next weekend, the RSPB hosts one of

the largest wildlife surveys in the

0:49:070:49:12

world - The Big Garden Birdwatch.

0:49:120:49:14

And just like Anita and the plant

hunters,

0:49:140:49:16

it's all about getting out there

0:49:160:49:19

and building up a picture

of our birdlife.

0:49:190:49:21

Aha! You recognise that!

A robin!

0:49:210:49:24

The reserve staff here are teaching

local schoolchildren

0:49:250:49:29

all about our precious garden birds.

0:49:290:49:31

In your gardens, what birds do you

get?

I don't really get any.

0:49:330:49:36

Don't you?

0:49:360:49:38

Maybe you will if you start feeding.

0:49:380:49:40

With our feathered friends busy

searching for food

0:49:410:49:44

during the cold winter months,

0:49:440:49:46

Dale Martin has been showing this

bunch how to make some tasty treats.

0:49:460:49:50

On the menu, lard, seeds and fruit.

0:49:500:49:53

Delicious.

0:49:530:49:54

How does it feel?

Disgusting!

Squidgy!

0:49:550:49:57

Squidgy and disgusting!

0:49:570:49:59

It's reminded me of being your age,

making them with my dad.

0:49:590:50:03

Look at that, not bad at all!

Let's have a look at yours.

0:50:030:50:06

Shall we get these hung up?

0:50:070:50:08

Yes!

0:50:080:50:09

If you'd like to join in and learn

more about birds in YOUR garden,

0:50:120:50:16

check out our website for details.

0:50:160:50:18

Well done, you three!

0:50:180:50:20

Look, there's mine!

0:50:220:50:24

If, like me, you're getting out for

the Big Garden Birdwatch this week,

0:50:310:50:35

you're going to want to know what

the weather has got in store,

0:50:350:50:38

so here is the Countryfile forecast.

0:50:380:50:40

Good evening. It has been a day of

transition, some big changes taking

0:50:530:51:00

place, in the atmosphere, and change

is not always easy, peninsula irly

0:51:000:51:03

when it is dramatic, we have been

many process of swapping out cold

0:51:030:51:11

air for milder air pushing in from

the south-west. The contrast has

0:51:110:51:15

brought a lot of rain and flooding

for some, in other places today, we

0:51:150:51:20

have seen some significant snow

fall. And, some big variations in

0:51:200:51:24

the temperatures. Through the middle

of the afternoon Glasgow and

0:51:240:51:28

Newcastle were sitting round

freezing but in Plymouth, we were up

0:51:280:51:31

at 12 degree, skip ahead to Tuesday,

the mild air will win out and just

0:51:310:51:35

about all of us will be up into

double digits. That process of

0:51:350:51:40

transition bringing that milder air

in continues as we head through

0:51:400:51:43

tonight, not before we have had icy

patches perhaps in North East

0:51:430:51:47

England, eastern Scotland. Showers

into northern Scotland, rain into

0:51:470:51:51

the far south-west, but generally

quieter by Monday morning, and

0:51:510:51:55

significantly milder as well. Now

take a first glance at this weather

0:51:550:51:58

chart and you might think that low

pressure dominates the scene for

0:51:580:52:01

Monday. I want to draw your

attention down here to this area of

0:52:010:52:07

high pressure which will try to nose

its way in. Rain early on, some

0:52:070:52:11

showers continue in the north and

one or two in the west, but

0:52:110:52:15

generally as that high builds in we

are looking at a decent day, large

0:52:150:52:19

areas of cloud, sunny spells as

well. The breeze easing somewhat and

0:52:190:52:24

a much better feel, a less chilly

one than today as six to 11 degree,

0:52:240:52:29

our high pressure moves southwards

and eastwards into Tuesday, low

0:52:290:52:33

pressure dominates in the Atlantic,

driving things and driving the

0:52:330:52:37

south-westerly winds that will pump

very mild air northward across the

0:52:370:52:40

country, for many I think Tuesday is

the mildest day of the week, some

0:52:400:52:46

rain, chiefly for Northern Ireland,

Scotland and northern England and

0:52:460:52:50

Wales, the best of brightness where

you have Shetland tore the east of

0:52:500:52:53

high ground. It will be windy, gales

in places but look at the

0:52:530:52:57

temperatures, confirmation of that

milder air, nine to 13 degrees

0:52:570:53:02

during Tuesday afternoon. Will it

stay that Hyland

Not quite. On

0:53:020:53:08

Wednesday this will push forwards.

Some mild air still into the

0:53:080:53:12

south-east, but that front is a cold

front and behind it, we will see

0:53:120:53:17

something a bit chillier returning

in northern and western area, as we

0:53:170:53:21

get into Thursday, follow the white

line, they go up to the Arctic, we

0:53:210:53:25

get back in to colder air, I say

colder, it won't be anything like as

0:53:250:53:29

cold as it has been over the

weekend. So Thursday, quite a

0:53:290:53:33

blustery day, could be gales in

exposed spots. Some showers that

0:53:330:53:39

could be heavy and thundery,

temperatures down a bit, but 6-10

0:53:390:53:43

degrees is not bad at all for this

time of year. Here comes another

0:53:430:53:48

area of high pressure. Toppling in,

if the timing is right, with this on

0:53:480:53:52

Friday morning, it could be some

frost to start the day, and

0:53:520:53:58

particularly in southern and eastern

area, frontal systems into the

0:53:580:54:01

north-west. Still lower temperatures

at five to nine degree, but actually

0:54:010:54:06

signs are into next weekend it will

turn milder again, some rain to come

0:54:060:54:11

in northern areas, often windy here

as well but it should be mostly dry

0:54:110:54:15

in the south.

0:54:150:54:17

I've been on a plant hunt with

some citizen scientists collecting

0:54:240:54:28

important floral data that may help

rewrite the botany rule books.

0:54:280:54:32

Research has found that

every three years,

0:54:370:54:40

two plant species disappear from

Leicestershire,

0:54:400:54:43

so scientists here at the university

0:54:430:54:45

are preserving wild flowers so they

are not lost forever.

0:54:450:54:49

And maybe my discovery will go

down in botanical history, too.

0:54:490:54:52

The herbarium holds thousands of

species of international importance.

0:54:550:54:59

They help experts like

Professor Pat Heslop-Harrison

0:54:590:55:03

understand how plants evolve

over time.

0:55:030:55:05

Hello, Pat.

Hello.

I come bearing gifts.

0:55:070:55:09

What do you think about that, then?

Fantastic.

0:55:090:55:12

Full flower from Leicestershire,

0:55:120:55:14

that's one that we don't have

in our collection.

0:55:140:55:16

So, this will actually go

into your herbarium today?

0:55:160:55:19

Yes, and it will become one of the

140,000 specimens that we have here.

0:55:190:55:23

All collected like this.

0:55:230:55:25

All collected and all pressed, yes.

0:55:250:55:28

Many of the specimens here were

reference materials used to write

0:55:300:55:33

one of the original floral guides

of the 18th-century.

0:55:330:55:37

Hopefully, the data that our plant

hunters are collecting today

0:55:370:55:40

will help write a new one.

0:55:400:55:42

This is one of the things where

citizen science is so important

0:55:420:55:46

for us. It gives us a survey that we

would never be able to get just as

0:55:460:55:51

researchers.

So, this is my bit of

citizen science.

0:55:510:55:55

So, now we need to put it

between the pieces of tissue paper.

0:55:550:55:58

For pressing, the flower has to be

arranged carefully

0:55:590:56:03

so that its details

can be studied by the scientists.

0:56:030:56:06

All of a sudden, this plant I would

never have batted an eyelid at,

0:56:060:56:10

becoming the most important thing

in my life right now.

0:56:100:56:13

Though an old process, it captures

details that photographs can't.

0:56:130:56:18

And then we will press that

and leave that to dry

0:56:180:56:21

between those boards.

There you go,

my little Austrian camomile.

0:56:210:56:25

Your Austrian camomile will now be

part of the collection.

0:56:250:56:28

Brilliant. Thank you so much.

Thank you.

0:56:280:56:31

As well as plants of the past and

present here,

0:56:350:56:37

the university's Genebank55

was set up a year ago

0:56:370:56:41

to freeze and preserve seeds

for the future.

0:56:410:56:44

It is Anna Farrell's job to make

sure

0:56:450:56:47

the seeds they save are healthy.

0:56:470:56:49

Every collection that we make,

0:56:510:56:52

we need to check the quality of

seed that we have.

0:56:520:56:55

You don't want any duff ones.

No, that's right.

0:56:550:56:57

So, how can you tell which are good

and which are the ones

0:56:570:57:01

you don't particularly want?

We need

to look under the microscope.

0:57:010:57:03

And what we need to do is cut one in

half, so we have to sacrifice about

0:57:050:57:09

ten for each collection.

0:57:090:57:10

Have a look down there.

Oh, wow.

0:57:140:57:17

So, that is the inside of the seed.

0:57:170:57:19

Wow!

You can see the texture of the

seed wall.

That's incredible!

0:57:190:57:23

Wow! It is a whole other world.

0:57:230:57:26

Fantastic. So, that's a good one.

That's a good one.

0:57:260:57:28

This is woolly thistle.

Mm-hm.

0:57:300:57:32

Have a look down there,

0:57:330:57:35

you can see straightaway that

there is a hole in that one.

0:57:350:57:40

Oh, yeah! So that is hollow.

0:57:400:57:43

Yes, you can see where the insect's

buried in from the side.

0:57:430:57:46

So, that's no good.

No.

0:57:460:57:48

We find this is quite common

with thistle seeds,

0:57:480:57:51

sometimes up to 90% of the seeds

have been eaten

0:57:510:57:54

by some kind of insect.

0:57:540:57:57

Once the seeds are checked,

0:57:570:57:59

the good ones are dried and frozen

in the cold store,

0:57:590:58:01

where they will be preserved,

0:58:010:58:03

patiently waiting for their

floral comeback

0:58:030:58:05

in the Leicestershire landscape.

0:58:050:58:07

Let's have a little nosy in the

freezer, shall we?

0:58:070:58:10

What have we got?

0:58:100:58:12

Some borage-in-something...

0:58:120:58:15

Some crassulae c...

0:58:150:58:18

What about this one?

0:58:180:58:20

Well, I never! They get everywhere,

these things, don't they?!

0:58:200:58:24

Countryfile calendar!

0:58:240:58:26

Thanks to all of you that have

already bought one,

0:58:260:58:29

and if you haven't yet,

there's still time.

0:58:290:58:31

Visit our website for details.

0:58:310:58:33

Well, that's all from

Leicestershire.

0:58:350:58:38

Next week, we will be in Perthshire,

0:58:380:58:40

where Matt will be meeting the

farming brothers representing

0:58:400:58:43

Great Britain

in the Winter Olympics, no less.

0:58:430:58:45

We'll see you, then.

0:58:450:58:47

It's a floral phenomenon that has baffled botanists - an early explosion of spring plants flowering at the wrong time. In a normal cold winter, botanists would expect no more than 20 to 30 types of wild plants to be in flower in Britain at this time of year. But a couple of years ago 612 plants were found to be in bloom on New Year's Day. That's 20 times as many species as botanists' bibles suggest.

Anita Rani joins some budding 'citizen scientists' taking in the New Year Plant Hunt. Leicestershire has more than 300 rare species of plant, but they're being lost at a rapid rate. Anita visits Leicester University's herbarium to investigate the city's plants' past, present and future.

Steve Brown gets to know some of Rutland Water's winter visitors better and looks forward to the Big Garden Birdwatch, as well as meeting the young birdwatchers taking part and revealing how to take part in this years' event.

Tom Heap looks at the problems faced by rural fire services.


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