The team explore the three counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire and meet some of the local crafts people keeping rural skills alive.
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Carpets of sunshine...
birds singing, and new life all around.
We're exploring the three counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire
and Gloucestershire, as the first signs of spring are emerging.
And this week, I'm going to be finding out about some
of the traditional, rural crafts that are still practised here today.
It's proper old school, this, it's incredible.
Ellie's visiting the ultimate hi-tech wildlife garden.
-Already I can see signs of your wildlife studio.
There's plenty to show you here today.
Charlotte's looking at the controversy surrounding
nature's most active engineer, the beaver.
The beavers have tunnelled in, made their lodge in there,
and that's leaving my neighbour with a bill of £4,000-£5,000.
And Adam's meeting three-year-old Lily,
-who's already got the lambing bug.
-Now then, Lily.
I was about eight when I lambed my first sheep,
but you're only three. What was it like?
-Slimy, was it?
The rolling hills and mellow meadows of the three counties.
A famous farming trio in the heart of England.
Herefordshire to the west, Worcestershire to the east,
and Gloucestershire to the south.
A land of pasture, winding rivers and ancient orchards.
With a country church at every turn.
Well, this is a familiar sight in a British landscape.
The village church, with its steeple and weather vane, but many
would walk past a building like this and not even look up to take notice.
Weather vanes were a medieval status symbol,
found on the village church and manor house.
But for farm labourers and peasants,
they gave a heads up about the weather. Quite literally.
Weather vanes on buildings have been recorded as far
back as the ancient Greeks.
And a detail of the Bayeux tapestry shows Westminster Abbey
getting its first weather vane in the 11th century.
Well, thankfully, this historic metalworking craft is still
alive in this old Georgian granary.
And these weather vanes can rival any that have ever been produced.
There are now only a handful of weather vane makers in Britain.
Karen Green, who hails from the US, and her husband, Gordon,
have been sculpting them in all shapes and sizes for 25 years.
Do you know, Karen, it seems such a shame that these are going to end up
so high on a building that people can't appreciate this
incredible detail and beauty.
Yeah, a lot of people do say that,
but it's amazing what light will do and catch that detail.
You can see it as you spin it, that on the wings,
you sort of get these moments where it flares at you, the light.
And, I mean, talk us
through the process of creating something like this.
I start with a full-scale drawing.
And that's generally a sketch that's been blown up.
-And then it goes to pattern makings.
-So we're saying similar to, like, making an outfit, a dress?
It's very much like dressmaking.
-If this is your office, this is your desk.
-Which I love.
And I never leave it. I never leave it.
-I kind of live in a six-foot space.
'And I'll be hot-desking in Karen's unusual office, as she's
'set me the challenge of making a traditional miniature weather vane.'
This is a two-pattern piece.
We've got the tail and the body, and that's very much how the
traditional English weather cock would be constructed.
'The first step is to cut out a bird shape to match Karen's half.
'Easier said than done.' There we are.
It's kind of not great, but it's a bit frayed on there, but...
'Next, shaping the flat sheet, turning it from 2-D to 3-D.'
Nice and hard, you want to bend that side over. That's right.
I'm thoroughly enjoying myself here, Karen.
'Copper has always been the material of choice for weather vane makers.
'It's a soft metal that's easily manipulated.'
Feel it - it comes alive, doesn't it?
Suddenly it's taking a - it almost gets a character of its own.
Great! He's going to need a tail, though, isn't he?
So, in order to function,
a weather vane needs more surface area downwind,
-and that is why the cockerel works as such a great design.
He's got a great skinny head, and then this great big tail...
-Almost like a sail.
-..to catch the wind. That's right.
And that tail, the wind blows it in the direction the wind is going.
-So, it takes the tail.
So, the nose of the weather vane is then pointing in the direction
the wind's coming from,
and that's how you know which way the wind's blowing!
So, yeah - effectively, it's like a metal kite.
-It is, yes.
We're done with hammering.
Now it's time to bring out the blunt chisel -
and grooving the copper sheet makes it more resistant,
so the wind can't bend it.
These are really the only tools I have -
I've got a couple of chisels, one smaller than that,
and the hammers that you've seen,
and that's how I create all my details,
so there's a plethora of marks you can make
by using these very simple, basic tools,
and you can be creative, then.
Do you want to see how the two match up?
Let's have a look.
So, you can actually...
-Do you want me to help you in any way, or are you all right?
-I've got some kind of a ridge going on.
-Oh, feel that.
That is actually quite strong.
And then...you get...
Look at that! Actually looks like a cockerel.
Ohh! There we go.
A three-piece cockerel.
I thoroughly enjoyed that process -
honestly, thank you very much indeed.
Now, the British beaver lost its battle against extinction
hundreds of years ago - but could we soon see them
being reintroduced in large numbers?
It's really hard to believe,
but here, where I'm paddling along,
was, until just six years ago, a forest -
well, now it's been transformed into a small loch.
And this is the reason - a massive 25-metre-long dam.
The amazing thing about this dam is that it isn't man-made -
it was made by an industrious rodent - the beaver.
Famous for their ability to remodel a landscape,
the ambition of bringing beavers back to Britain
has proved controversial,
with some viewing them as destructive pests.
The Scottish Government is due to decide
if beavers can live in Scotland -
now, that could have ramifications for the rest of the UK.
Should beavers be allowed to return,
and, if they do, what impact would it have on the environment?
Beavers have been officially extinct in the wilds of Scotland
for more than 400 years.
Now a growing number have been finding their way
into the wild across the UK.
In 2009, the Scottish Beaver Trial was set up
to bring them here to the remote Knapdale Forest in Argyll.
It was the first time a mammal had been legally reintroduced
to the wild anywhere in Britain.
Well, either someone has been through here with a very small axe,
-or this is beavers - is it?
-This is recent feeding.
We'll see a distinctive chisel-like effect, so -
that's a single bite.
-That's a beaver chip.
-A single bite?!
That's a single bite.
Peter Creech is a volunteer for the Scottish Beaver Trial.
OK, Charlotte - this is the dam.
So, what was the idea behind this?
Why put the beavers back in the first place?
There's been 24 reintroductions throughout Europe,
but it was considered that we needed to see how
this would affect Scottish ecosystems in particular.
They have a big effect, don't they? If we look at the dam.
-How many were put back here?
16 animals - a mixture of adults and juveniles.
And would it take 16 beavers, then, to build this large dam?
-No, not at all. Three made this dam.
So, they do have quite an impact, then, don't they?!
Yeah, they live up to their reputation, certainly.
The beavers have been busy - toppling trees, constructing dams
and making a rather impressive home for themselves,
and Peter says this has helped increase biodiversity.
OK, Charlotte, just through the trees, there,
you can see a beaver's lodge.
We've seen what an effect they can have on a landscape -
why is it good to have beavers?
Beavers create habitats.
They'll quite often be known as a keystone species,
so, lots of other species of animals and plants
benefit from the beavers' actions.
We saw some evidence of that at the dam,
where that large pool of still water
has encouraged a host of invertebrates -
the rotting wood has attracted another range of insects,
that attracts birds.
The increase in fish numbers in that pool will also increase
the number of predatory birds,
so we'll see things like herons, kingfishers -
all of these species are benefitting from the beavers' actions.
But the beavers haven't only helped provide habitats for other species -
they've also had a positive effect on the local community.
The reintroduction has proved to be a real draw for tourists.
We'll look forward to seeing you.
Thanks very much.
Hotel owner Darren Dobson
says he's benefitted from the boom
in wildlife watchers.
Check off, Darren!
Wow, full Scottish. That looks fantastic.
-There we go.
-What a way to start the day!
So, Darren, what do you make of these beavers?
Has it honestly made a difference to the business?
Tens of thousands of pounds.
Every single weekend we have somebody staying
that's come for the beavers.
Half the time, people see the beavers -
so, you know they're going to come twice.
How would you feel, then, if the beavers were removed?
I'd feel cheated. I would -
but it seems to me that they pay for themselves time and time again.
Bear in mind, there's no public money spent on them -
it was all charity, and now they're producing money for the area.
They certainly bring more than they ever will take,
as far as I'm concerned.
In total, official estimates suggest the local area
has benefitted by hundreds of thousands of pounds -
but, after five years of monitoring, the Scottish beaver trial is over,
and their future looks far from certain.
To keep this population healthy, more beavers are needed here -
but that requires the Scottish Government
to make a decision on their fate.
When were you hoping for a decision from the Scottish Government?
Well, we were hoping for a decision last year,
so it's now been delayed for the better part of the year.
Does it make any difference, really, when they decide?
We have a population here of about 12 to 14 beavers,
and, obviously, the longer that situation remains,
possibly the less viable that population will become,
because of the possibility of inbreeding.
It was always deemed to be a trial,
so this wasn't meant to be an ecologically sustainable population
which was put back into the environment, here.
For now, the beavers remain in the forest,
awaiting a decision from the Scottish Government -
but that could be affected by what's happening more than 100 miles away
here in Scotland's low-lying farmland.
So, beavers are generally wonderful -
they improve the environment and help the local economy.
How is it, then, that here on the other side of Scotland,
they're being blamed for damaging river banks?
In fact, some people say they're being forced to shoot beavers
to protect their livelihoods.
Well, join me later in the programme
when I'll be finding out.
It's an age-old problem -
you love wildlife, but how do you get close enough
to truly appreciate it without disturbing it?
The nature-loving owners of this private garden in Worcestershire
brought in wildlife expert Kate MacRae
to help them solve the problem - and it's worked!
Kate has cleverly adapted technology from the urban jungle
and introduced it into this rural paradise -
with spectacular results.
-This place is fab, isn't it?
-It certainly is, it's wonderful.
Already I can see signs of your wildlife studio.
Indeed - there's plenty to show you here today.
So, what are we looking at up there, then?
-Right, this is our tawny box.
We knew there were a pair here - when I first came,
-we could see them and hear them calling.
So, we put up this big box, cameras, lights, the lot,
and they've been prospecting the last two years,
so it's fingers crossed - we really want them to choose this box
so that we can film them raising their family.
But it's not just this one owl box -
Kate has rigged up 30 CCTV cameras,
which cover every inch of the garden.
What was it that got you into this in the first place?
How did you get started?
Well, it was a nest box camera kit
that really got me involved in the wildlife technology.
It was a kit like this - you can see it's a standard nest box,
but the addition is that we've got a little camera in there.
I started off really simply, with this -
just watching it on the telly in my kitchen -
got completely hooked.
As well as using off-the-shelf CCTV cameras to get the best results,
Kate thinks outside the box and experiments with her kit.
Basically, I'm trying to encourage small mammals to come in
-and feed here, so that I can film them with the camera.
I wondered if - today I wanted to put some new stuff in here.
So, sort of tucking things in -
just make sure you leave the entrances
-so that they can get in and out.
-Oh, it looks lovely in there!
That looks good - shall we put some food in?
-Lid goes on.
Nice. Ready for action.
Voles, shrews and mice have all been recorded
in this des res mammal box -
and it's not just daytime visitors Kate's able to capture on film.
Now, this is a project I'm really interested in,
because I, too, have had a go at building a badger sett before.
-But it's unusual.
How many entrances have you got? How big is this sett?
This sett has two chambers and two entrances,
here and here,
and these are actually interlinked, so, we've got footage of them
-going in there, going along and coming back out...
..and footage of them going in the chambers.
Kate's night-vision cameras
have also been rigged up on the river bank,
and filmed a male otter -
and there was an even greater surprise in the daylight...
I've got some fantastic footage of a female with two grown-up cubs
last year, basically investigating around this area.
..and the surprises don't end there.
At the man-made pond, Kate's all-seeing eye
recorded one of Britain's most colourful creatures.
What a joy this is!
Two of the big factors with wildlife in gardens is trees and water.
I know - and having a pond this big
has attracted a slightly more unusual visitor to our garden,
and that's kingfisher.
The kingfisher, fairly quickly we established
that he was sitting on here and hunting from this post.
The kingfisher has been pulling out dragonfly nymphs,
damselfly nymphs - even a water stick insect, and water boatmen,
so the kingfisher has almost told us what we've got in the pond!
Here in the reeds, the cameras captured footage of something
the owners never thought they'd see on their land -
a harvest mouse.
This tiny mammal has rarely been filmed in the wild.
Kate's hoping a new feeding station hidden in the reed bed
will capture more extraordinary glimpses of them.
It looks quite odd that it's up high like this,
but harvest mice would feed high up in the stalks, wouldn't they?
Yeah - they're so tiny and so light that they clamber around
with hardly even moving this.
A screen of reeds should encourage the timid harvest mice to feed here.
-Right in the reeds.
-There we go.
-Bit of food.
Let's tempt them in.
Good luck with that one!
And this is where all the hard work pays off.
-The control centre!
Kate can finally get up close and personal
to all to the wildlife in their remarkable garden.
-Is this live, then...
-..or is this pre-recorded?
-No, this is...
-Those feeders are really active, aren't they?
-so, this is all live now.
So, there's tonnes of bluetits down by the river, there.
-Yeah, and we've got redpoll, siskin and goldfinch...
..down on our Nyjer feeders.
And here's the badger sett - those are the two chambers inside.
Oh, it's lovely!
There's the mammal box that we set up.
Did we get anything in there?
Yeah, so let's have a look.
If I hit playback on here...
-There we go, here comes a...
-..here comes a vole.
-So, straight in, and...
..and using our new set-up.
-That was incredible! We really haven't been gone that long.
Just goes to show there's so much activity around us all the time.
I know - most of it we wouldn't even know was happening.
We don't even see it. It's brilliant! I love that.
Kate never imagined she'd be capturing such incredible footage -
and who knows what discoveries are still to be uncovered?
At the heart of every village is its Parish church...
..and country-folk have congregated at this one
for more than 800 years.
This is Holy Trinity Church in Bosbury,
and it was built to be the jewel in the crown
of the Bishops of Hereford, who had a palace just over there -
so, it was very, very important to the clergy
and the medieval villagers,
who used this separate tower
as a stronghold against Welsh raiders...
but today Bosbury is not the powerhouse that it once was,
and this poor old dear is starting to show her age.
With roof problems
and damp taking hold,
Bosbury Church was placed on the "at risk" list by English Heritage.
So, villagers, led by churchwarden Liz Clutterbuck, have taken action
and raised a quarter of a million pounds to stop the rot.
How important is this building to you?
To me personally -
well, it's been part of my life since we moved here.
Brought my daughter to Sunday school, children's church,
through...ending up being a churchwarden.
How did it feel when you heard that this building was under this review,
and they were saying, "Goodness me, it's in a bad way"?
I was devastated, really, because you've got to turn round
-and say, "What do we do about it?"
-It's been here for so long.
-I don't want to be the one who lets it fall apart!
Liz and her team have put their beloved church
in the safe hands of heritage builders Richard and Rhys,
who relish working on leaky, creaky historic buildings.
They're using ancient techniques and materials
to repair the church.
-Morning, chaps. Are you all right?
-Good morning, Matt.
Got the nippy side of the building, haven't you?!
Out of the sunlight this morning.
Richard and Rhys are currently tackling the west end -
the oldest part of the church.
-We're going to repair this panel here...
..and areas here, where mortar's missing,
-we're going to replace.
So, we're going to patch it.
-So, we have to take all the loose pointing out and repair it.
They're raking out old cement
and replacing it with a traditional mortar
made of crushed burnt limestone and gritty sand.
That's it. Just ram it in.
Make sure it's really pushed in there.
It's flexible, and it breathes.
The technique which we're using today is the original technique,
when the stonework was put together.
They used to use mud rather than... and soil rather than sand,
but sands make a much better mortar than the original clay.
You know, when I was a young lad,
I used to spend a lot of time repointing.
All our buildings on our farm are all stone, so...
Do you want to come and work for me?!
I was going to say! THEY LAUGH
I'd be very, very happy to spend most of my day here doing this.
But repairs alone won't save Bosbury Church.
These pews are no longer full on Sundays.
Change is always difficult,
but the villagers have asked architect Philip Belchere
to create a versatile community space in their place of worship.
-You've done this before in other churches, haven't you?
Surely there must be those people within the community
that are very against this taking pews out and what have you?
There is a great resistance to change.
I've come across people that don't even go to the church,
but they have this feeling that that pew was where their grandfather sat
and it's unassailable, you cannot move that pew.
Philip's vision of communal use actually harks back
to how the church would have been used when it was first built.
-Everybody was here enjoying themselves.
And in some churches, there would have been ox roasts.
This is where brewing started, in the churches.
-This is where the entertainment was.
So bearing in mind what this building
and buildings like it have witnessed in the past
as far as how vibrant it was here,
what is your hope and your vision for this place?
-Everything that we can possibly do
to make sure that these buildings survive.
I'm hoping that what we are doing will leave our generation's mark
on the building so that it looks...
..and stays here for many, many more years.
It's like we're getting married backwards.
-Where's the vicar?
Now, earlier, we heard that after being extinct for centuries,
there have been efforts
to re-establish beaver colonies in Britain,
but not everyone is happy to have them back.
So can beavers successfully coexist with humans?
Charlotte has been finding out.
This is Tayside in the southern Scottish Highlands.
It's home to more than 150 beavers living in the wild.
It's not known whether they escaped from captivity,
or were illegally released some ten years ago.
This area is low-lying farmland,
intensive for agriculture, with quite a few people, too.
And it's this close proximity to humans
that's been causing problems,
leading some landowners to resort to extreme measures.
What we're seeing here is where the beavers tunnelled in
below the water level and come up through here
and it's all starting to collapse.
You can see it's going, look, just here.
Don't stand on top of it,
because otherwise you just go down through and it's gone.
David Colville runs a 750-acre arable farm.
He's one of several landowners in Tayside who say their livelihoods
are being hit by beavers burrowing and destroying flood protection.
The end point of that damage is what we're seeing across the river.
The beavers have tunnelled in, made their lodge
and the river's come up
and the pressure has actually exploded out the lodge
and that's leaving my neighbour with a bill for about £4,000-£5,000
if he's got soil nearby.
If he's got to import soil, that bill could double quite quickly.
How do you know it's the beavers, though?
Cos we've had a really wet winter, the river has flooded -
it could just be that.
It's been a bad winter all over, but there are bursts that we've got
that you can look and say, "That's beaver damage."
Although beavers have been shown to help prevent flooding
in upland areas, here in low-lying Tayside,
they're said to have been responsible
for some flooding-related problems.
As it's illegal to trap and relocate the beavers without a licence,
landowners like David believe they're left with few options
and some have resorted to shooting them.
Recently in the Tayside area,
21 beavers were shot.
Now, some of them were heavily pregnant
and that's raised concerns about the beavers' welfare.
Some environmental groups are demanding that Scotland's beavers
get legal protection, as in other European countries.
But farmers like David say if beavers are here to stay,
they must be controlled.
What do you think will happen to the beaver population here
if it is allowed just to explode, as you put it?
The beaver populations are already exploding.
It's not going to be long before they're throughout the length
and the breadth of the country.
Somerset Levels - they'd have a field day down there.
What would you like the Scottish Government to decide?
I don't see there's any chance of eradicating them.
It's beyond that now.
I hope it will allow us to control them in the Lowlands,
but they've got to allow us to do what we are here to do -
produce food to feed the country.
If we can't do that,
then we've got problems.
'The future of beavers in Scotland has polarised opinion...'
I'm nervous now, walking up here.
'..but both sides agree there's an urgent need for a practical
'and sustainable solution.'
Last year, Scottish Natural Heritage prepared this report.
It draws on the experience of having beavers here in Scotland,
but also across Europe
and sets out different scenarios for government ministers to consider.
The proposals range from removing the current population from the wild
to an accelerated, widespread reintroduction.
Look at this. It's just amazing what they can build.
They really are engineers.
You can see why you say, "Busy like a beaver," can't you?
They don't sit around.
The Scottish Government is advised by, among others,
the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.
Sarah Robinson believes there are challenges ahead,
but to see beavers successfully established in the UK,
a compromise must be found.
If we just look around us here,
the plan had been to plant a woodland,
but the beavers have pretty much felled everything that we can see.
In other places, they're undermining river banks
and destroying flood prevention measures.
Yeah, I think some of it is around
how we're using the land at the moment,
so if you are going to take your agriculture
right up to the edge of the river, then you add beavers to that mix
and you are going to see problems.
There is mitigation available and it's been proven
throughout Europe and in agricultural landscapes to work.
You do have to spend some time tailoring it to the situation
and it's been proven time and time again.
What do you think the Government should do?
Obviously, we're pro, so we'd like to see the option
where they're allowed to remain and do further introductions.
I absolutely accept that it requires a management plan
and that management plan should be robust and should,
in certain unsuitable cases,
under licence, be taken all the way to a lethal removal
or relocation of beavers that are causing a real problem.
Returning a species to the wild when it's been absent
for many centuries is a significant decision for any government to take
and what it decides may not please everyone.
Farmers here on Tayside say they're not anti-beaver,
they're just anti-too many of them in what they see as the wrong place,
while in Argyll, they'd like to see more beavers.
But what the two sides can agree on is that they need a decision
from the Scottish Government, and soon,
but there are elections here in Scotland in May
and it really doesn't look likely
that there'll be a decision before then.
For me, the arrival of fields of golden daffodils
bobbing in our landscape is one of the great heralders of spring.
Nearly every daffodil we see has been especially grown
But there is one daffodil found in the fields and woodlands
of Gloucestershire that has not been grown in this way -
the native wild daffodil.
Once found in large numbers,
the native wild daffodil now only exists in small pockets.
Like this woodland in an area
famously known for its native daffodils,
the Golden Triangle.
But why do we not see them in such abundance any more
and how can we tell the difference?
Well, to answer that,
I'm meeting Rosie Kelsall of the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.
-Hi, Rosie. You look busy.
-So, Rosie, this is the native wild daffodil.
-It is, that's right.
Yes, isn't it a beautiful thing?
-Really small compared to your normal daffodil.
In fact, that's one of the distinctive features
about the native daffodil. They are generally much shorter.
They say the leaves are also this very kind of silvery-grey colour,
rather than the deep green of some of the cultivated ones.
But if you look at the flower, the petals around it -
again, very delicate.
Almost papery, aren't they, in appearance?
I've seen cultivated daffodils flowering in January.
The cultivated varieties are bred to look a certain way
and to grow at a certain time of year,
whereas these native species will only flower
when the conditions are right, so it needs to be the temperature right,
the amount of daylight needs to be right, the amount of rainfall,
so when all of those things come together,
that's when you get this wonderful carpet of native daffodils.
Another name for the native daffodil is the Lent lily.
Lent really is because of the time of year that it flowers,
so it's thought that it will grow and flower and die back
in the period between Ash Wednesday through to Easter Sunday.
I like the name lily. My daughter's called Lily.
Ah, there we are, you see.
Bring her out to have a look at them and to enjoy them as well.
Despite the native daffodils flowering
here in the Golden Triangle,
elsewhere in the area,
the picture is not so golden.
Changes in agriculture and poor land management
have meant that much of its habitat has been destroyed.
But help is on hand -
Dymock Forest Rural Action has been growing thousands of native flowers
from seed and today,
some of those are being planted in one of the local villages.
Hello. You look like you're hard at work.
-What are you up to?
-Yeah, we are.
We are planting out these precious wild daffs,
back where they belong, in the verges.
-Can I do something?
-Yeah! You can put them in!
So why are you doing this?
Because we're very concerned that people have put some cultivated ones
to make the place look pretty,
but we don't want them interbreeding with our very special native ones.
We've got some more people from the village who are taking out
the cultivated daffodils.
So they're the bad bullies that we want to get out?
And these are the lovely, little, delicate ones.
Once we get them in, they will take over and it'll be fabulous.
Every year, you see a new area of verge
that's got these beautiful daffodils in.
These delicate, characterful flowers will be gone in a few weeks,
just a memory of spring.
But this year, they are to live on, as they are to be immortalised
in a poignant tribute to those who died in World War I.
I've come to Eastnor Pottery for a lesson in ceramic daffodil making.
-Just place your petals...
-Are the petals...?
-They're not very good, are they?
Are you trying to stitch me up here, Sarah?
Because of Gloucestershire's connections with the daffodil,
it was decided to use the flower as a mark of respect
Local people are making hundreds of these flowers.
They'll be used to create a field of ceramic daffodils
to commemorate the fallen.
That's pretty good.
-It should be the Ugly Daffodil, shouldn't it?
It's not very good, really.
During the 1930s, as a young boy,
Horace Dudfield worked as a daffodil picker.
Harvesting the native daffodils
was an important cottage industry in the area
and of huge economic importance.
Horace has written a poem to remember those times.
I used to laugh when, as a child
I walked through fields where daffs grew wild
In such profusion did they grow
All scattered wide, none in a row
Then wartime fields were ploughed
And we those lovely blooms no longer see
But still I dream of those days olden
When fields for miles around were golden
And local ladies thousands sold
To reap their own particular gold
Alas, those days I'll no longer see
I'm fast approaching 93.
Most are familiar with an Easter that promises a few days off work
and a chocolate egg or two to look forward to,
but down on Adam's farm, the Easter holidays are anything but relaxing.
Lambing is still in full swing.
We've got about another 300 ewes to go
and the goats gave birth a couple of weeks later than expected,
but they've all kidded now and are doing really well.
As well as sheep and goats, we've got cattle to look after
and the first job of the day is weighing a young bull.
This is a herd of pedigree Hereford beef cattle
that we help manage for a neighbouring farmer.
Last year, they won a prestigious national prize
with a bull calf called Moreton.
This year, we need to make sure he's piling on the pounds.
My stock manager, Mike, is taking Moreton for a weigh-in.
He's looking good, isn't he?
Yeah, he's always looked good, ever since he was a little calf
and he's growing really quickly as well.
It's interesting to see him next to the heifers that are the same age
and some of his sisters in there. He's a really beefy-looking animal
and for a young breeding bull like this,
it's important that they have the right genetics
and they're the right-looking animal,
but also, growth rates are important,
how much meat they're putting on on a daily basis,
so Mike's going to pop him in the scales.
There's a good boy. Walk on, then.
Farmers want beef cattle that grow quickly.
A bull like this should be putting on more than a kilo a day.
Anything less could be a sign there's a problem.
-The moment of truth. So what's his weight, then, Mike?
-He's 581 kilos.
So what does that mean?
At the moment, he's putting on about one and a quarter kilos per day.
One and a quarter kilos a day?
That's good - are you pleased with that?
Yeah, that's very good
and it means the food's doing exactly what it should do.
So, there we go, Moreton's doing really well.
Over half a tonne of rippling muscle,
and he's not even 12 months old.
Well done, Mike. I'll catch up with you later.
We're keeping these Herefords under cover and feeding them
silage for a week or two yet.
But, come Easter, there's just enough grass to start
returning the ewes and newborn lambs back to the field.
This is the field that I'm going to drop them off.
There's a few ewes and lambs in here already that I'll just check
they're all settled.
Number sixes are fine in there. Mum OK.
They're looking well.
What I'll do is I'll take the ewes
and lambs I've got in the back just a little bit further away from these
others so they don't get muddled up initially, let them get settled.
Right, this should be a good spot to let them out.
We're only turning out the strongest looking lambs for the time being.
Once they're out in the field, it's up to the ewes to look after them.
EWES AND LAMBS BLEAT
All right, want to get your babies?
Anybody who grew up on a farm will know when things get really busy,
you have to get stuck in and help out, even from a young age.
So, when I saw a clip of young Lilly Nicholas helping out
at the tender age of three...
..I just had to go and meet her.
'Lilly's family have been farming just outside
'Raglan in Monmouthshire for five generations.
'I'm meeting Lilly's mum, who filmed the clip,
'and Lilly herself, the star of the show.
'The video was posted online by mum, Rachel,
'and features young Lilly delivering her first-ever lamb.'
Yay! That's it.
'The clip's been viewed millions of times,
'and has understandably attracted a lot of media attention.'
-It's a girl.
-Yay, it's a girl!
-Hiya. All right?
-Good to see you.
And you must be Lilly. Hello.
So, this video clip has gone mad, hasn't it?
Why did you decide to do it in the first place?
Cos friends kept saying, "Oh, I'd love to see her lambing,
"I'd love to see her lambing." So we had the opportunity, and that,
so I thought, I'll take a couple of pictures.
I thought, no, you can see it better on a video.
So I worked out how to video on my phone, and done it,
and it just spiralled from there.
-Incredible, isn't it?
Now, Lilly, I was about eight when I lambed my first sheep.
But you're only three. What was it like?
Er... Slimy and hot.
Was it slimy and hot?
What could you feel of the little lamb when you put your hand in?
-Yeah? What else?
-Did I ask you if you could feel her nose?
-And what did you say you could feel?
So, do you know how a lamb is born? What position is it born in?
You show me.
That's it. How does it go?
That's it, and forwards.
Wonderful. That's very clever.
Earlier on, I saw for myself just how hands-on Lilly is.
'Some people might be concerned about a child
'putting their hand inside a ewe when they're lambing it,
'but, actually, they've got tiny little hands,
-'quite handy, really.
-Yes, they are.
'Like you said, she'd...she'd be
'a lot better than my husband or somebody like you with bigger hands,
'you know, especially on more the yearling type, first timers,
'you know, cos there's not an awful lot of room.
'And the smaller your hand is, the better, really.
-'Flick the legs into the right position...
'Yes, you can still manoeuvre whilst you're in there,
'whereas if you've got a lamb and a big hand,
-'it narrows the space down a lot, doesn't it?
'It's all part of farming life, isn't it? They know their boundaries.
'Don't get me wrong, we wouldn't endanger them
'just for the sake of it.'
What have we got to do now, Lills?
-Wash our hands.
-Why have we got to wash our hands?
-Cos they're mucky.
-Cos they're mucky!
Do you think you'd like to be a farmer one day?
What sort of animals do you think you might have on your farm?
Sheep, pigs...piglets. Dogs. Cats.
And cows, and calves.
-And a truck.
-And a truck, yes.
-And a trailer.
-Yeah, you'll need a big farm.
'Well, if she does get one, she can count on help from her
'ten-year-old sister, Catherine,
'who's also more than happy to muck in.
'This is one farm whose future is in safe but small hands.
'Easter is all about new life.
'You might remember a few weeks ago we found out that our pet
'vizsla, Boo, was pregnant.
'Not to be outdone by all the lambs at this time of year,
'she's gone and had some rather cute puppies of her own.'
It's been a few days since Boo gave birth.
And, in the end, it was just six she ended up with.
She's been a little bit stressed by it all over the first
couple of days, but she's settled down now,
and she's keeping them clean and feeding them really well.
And all six puppies are very healthy.
They've still got their eyes shut.
It'll be a few days before their eyes open up.
There's a good girl, don't worry, I'm not going to hurt her.
I'll pop her back down.
There's a good girl. Lie down, then. There's a good girl.
I adore having dogs. I'd never really want to be without one.
And I'm very proud of Boo. She's made a great job of this,
and you're a very good mum, aren't you? I'll leave her to it.
Easter is not normally the time of year to talk turkey,
but in this part of Gloucestershire, it's a different story.
Turkeys are very much the talk of the town.
'Sarah Hawkeswood has an EGGS-traordinary passion
'for these birds. (I didn't write this.)
'But you won't find these turkeys on your Christmas dinner table.
'These birds are bred for the amazing eggs they lay.'
Look at you! He's handsome!
-How are you doing?
-We're great, thank you.
Good, good, good. Gosh, it's quite a noise up here, isn't it?
I know, you can hear it right from the road outside.
Good thing about turkeys, they're great guard dogs.
They always tell you first if somebody's coming.
That's true, that's true. How many have you got here?
There seem to be more coming out by the second.
Yeah, I think there's probably about 70
-of these bronze egg-laying turkeys out here.
The black one there, he's a boy.
He makes the gobbling sound. All these you can see are all females.
So that gobble sound we're quite familiar with, that's all male?
That is all the male. The females make a kind of high-pitched sound.
TURKEYS MAKE HIGH-PITCHED SOUND
How did you get into this, then, keeping turkeys?
It first started out, it sounds quite bizarre,
I had one pet turkey, a female, and one morning I came home
and I discovered she'd laid a beautiful egg.
I thought, how wonderful! It's so pretty, I thought,
how come no-one's... I'd never seen one,
no-one I knew had seen one, you couldn't get them in the shops.
I suppose there's so many of them that don't make it past Christmas,
don't get into laying season.
Turkeys only usually live until about six months of age, maximum.
-And they're not going to lay an egg in that time
cos they don't start laying until around about Easter time.
I've never seen a turkey egg. Is there any here we can see?
Well, yeah. I mean, if you look there,
-that turkey is actually busy building a nest.
-Let's take a look.
-I think they're absolutely beautiful.
-They are beautiful. That beautiful speckle.
-Look at that.
-Yeah, that's a cracker.
-They're pointed at one end,
-they're quite distinctive, the shape of them as well.
a little bit of a warning here - "Stay out of my eggs."
You'll see that the speckles are actually different,
-and they've each got their own distinctive pattern.
-What are these eggs like to eat, then?
-Well, I'm biased.
They are... I call them the Champagne of the egg world.
The yolk is much larger than a chicken egg,
and it takes up most of the size of the egg.
And you've got all the nutrients concentrated in there.
However you like them, they really are...
like I said, something special.
'And it's not just turkey eggs.
'Sarah has a host of feathered friends, producing eggs of all
'shapes, sizes and colours, which she sells at farmers' markets.'
These eggs are really beautiful.
It's hard to imagine improving on nature.
But there is one Easter tradition that can add a bit of colour.
'I've come to a local school,
'where they're carrying out a lovely Easter custom.'
There's some fantastic artwork going on here,
let me see these eggs. Oh, they're beautiful.
Who can tell me why we paint eggs at Easter time? Does anybody know?
-Do you know?
-Cos it's a symbol of new life.
Because Christ came back to life.
I see, so the breaking of the egg is like the tomb opening.
That's really good.
-Does nobody like chocolate eggs?
-Oh, you do?
You do like chocolate eggs? Do you?
-Have you two even finished yet?
Well, here is an EGG-citing display, if ever there was one.
Another great Easter tradition is heading out for the chocolate hunt.
And if you're going outside for yours, you're going to want to know
what the weather's got in store.
Time for the Countryfile forecast for this week.
I always like looking in there, going...
'Earlier, I was at Bosbury Church in Herefordshire,
'meeting the team fighting centuries of neglect.
'Holy Trinity's windows were made by highly-skilled craftsmen
'and have, remarkably, survived the centuries.'
And while many craftspeople are creating stained glass windows
fit to grace a medieval church,
others are taking the art form into the 21st century.
Looks like I'm in the right place.
-Hiya, Tamsin. Oh, I love your workshop!
Nice to see you.
'With a background in fine art,
'Tamsin Abbott has been working with glass for 16 years.'
It's a lovely space to be working in. I mean, it just feels right.
I mean, I don't even know if it's just because of
the stained glass window that's surrounding us here.
I feel like I've made a sort of nest of all the things
that are important to me.
'And she takes inspiration from her time spent in the countryside.'
Well, ever since I was a small child, I drew and drew and drew.
And it was always animals. That was always my passion, really.
The idea is that we are there in the landscape, in our houses,
but, actually, the landscape is alive outside of our awareness.
And that's the magic, for me, about the countryside, is that
even if you go for a walk and you don't see anything,
-you know it's there.
'And the one creature that particularly captures
'Tamsin's imagination is the hare.'
Of all the animals, they've got a real mythical, sort of,
quality to them.
With regards to Easter, people thought that hares laid eggs
because leverets are always found out in the field,
they're born fully furred with their eyes open,
so people thought they hatched out of eggs.
So, that's where the sort of theory of the Easter bunny
with the Easter eggs come from.
'The glass Tamsin uses is all handmade,
'and the vibrant colours often inspire her work.'
-It's so beautiful.
You're starting with a real beautiful product already.
So, all the colours in the glass are already in the glass.
They're underneath the black.
'Tamsin's technique requires covering the glass in a thick layer
'of gummy black paint.'
It's proper old school, this, isn't it?
-Here we are, in the lovely hut...
..with the old pestle and mortar
and the glass that's all being made by hand, and blown.
-It's incredible. Lovely process.
I think this might be a little bit thin, but it doesn't matter.
'Now it's my turn to be creative,
'scraping the paint off to reveal the glass below,
'similar to a photographic negative.'
We've got an actual feather here, which is the barn owl.
And I've done a couple of examples.
So, if you draw the stem of the feather.
-So, a bit wider at the bottom, yeah?
-Yeah, that's fine.
So, here, you've got these lovely little, sort of, fluffy...
And, so, this is a very nice way of doing that.
-Oh, yes, isn't that lovely?
-It is all about confidence, this, surely.
-It is, yes.
You've just got to be sure of what you're doing.
You get a lovely surprise, don't you, when you see...
-The colours coming through, yeah.
-..through the glass, yeah.
So, that's looking good, Matt.
-It's knowing when to stop, I guess.
-I think you might need to stop now.
-You've got to leave it on
-in order for it to actually...
-Hold it up to the light,
-then you can see it properly.
-There we are.
-Oh, that's great. That's lovely.
-Quite happy with my first one.
Fluffy and light and feathery.
-What more do you want from a feather?
Well, that's all we've got time for for this week.
Next week, we're going to be taking an in-depth look
at the nation's cattle.
Until then, happy Easter to you all.
This episode explores the three counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. Matt Baker meets some of the local crafts people keeping rural skills alive - heritage builders, a weathervane maker and a stained glass artist. Ellie Harrison is visiting a farm where the owners are potty about poultry, breeding turkeys for their eggs rather than meat. She's also exploring the ultimate wildlife garden. Sean Fletcher is discovering the area's links with the humble daffodil. And Adam Henson is meeting the three-year-old girl already getting to grips with lambing. Hundreds of years after becoming extinct, beavers are back on mainland Britain. Charlotte Smith investigates why some people are trying to save them, while others want them culled.