The Countryfile team visits the rural county of Wiltshire. Matt Baker visits a pig farm, and Julia Bradbury looks at the birds that call the UK home in the winter months.
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It's a week in which huge swathes of our countryside are underwater.
First, it was the Somerset Levels, and now the floods are spreading.
We're in Wiltshire, a fertile feeding ground
for the young River Thames.
Here, farming's a way of life.
Pigs are big business in Wiltshire, and on this farm,
there's lots of hungry piglets,
some of them just a couple of days old.
Now, you might want to cover your ears for this bit,
because I'm going to be finding out what's going to be happening
to this lot and the secrets behind Wiltshire ham.
In the heart of the Wiltshire countryside is Tedworth House,
a recovery centre run by Help for Heroes.
When members of our Armed Forces
suffer life-changing illness or injury,
they come here to begin the often difficult task of recovery,
and, by working with nature, many are being taught skills
that really can help them plan for the future.
I'll be here, catching up with some of them,
seeing how they're getting on.
Tom's got the latest on the flooding.
Weeks after the heavy rain began to fall,
the floodwaters in many parts of Britain are still rising,
but is our countryside being sacrificed
so that people in our towns and cities can stay dry?
I'll be investigating.
And there's a new and potentially lethal threat
to the cattle down on Adam's farm.
When it comes to farming, you've got to pay attention
to the things you can see, but also to the things you can't.
And there's a small but deadly parasite that's causing
problems in cattle, including some of my own.
Wiltshire, with its lush, chalky pastures and gentle landscape.
The county sits in England's fertile southwest.
Found within the wide expanses of the Wiltshire Downs
are the ancient monuments of Stonehenge...
..Avebury stone circle
and the eight white horses carved into the hillside.
Well, today, I'm not here to look at the horses but find out about
a very different animal, one with a culinary connection to the area.
Pigs and their famous Wiltshire hams.
No-one knows more about the commercial home of bacon
than local historian Sue Boddington.
So, Sue, Wiltshire's connection with pigs
really started on the drovers' roads, didn't it?
Yes, it did. It was an accident of geography, really.
The pigs used to come across from Ireland by ship to Bristol
and then they were walked by the drovers up to London.
And when they got to this stage,
obviously there'd be a few stragglers.
They could see which pigs weren't going to make it to London
and so they wanted to try to get rid of them locally.
There were two enterprising brothers
who had bacon curing businesses called Harris.
So, they used to go and buy the pigs cheaply.
-Their business grew and grew?
-Yes, it did.
And there's a story that one of the brothers
ended up going over to America?
What happened there?
Yes, so George went to America.
What he did see when he was there was ice houses.
Importing the idea of ice houses to Wiltshire was a stroke of genius.
Storing the meat in cold rooms meant less salt was needed
for preservation during the hotter months.
The milder-tasting Wiltshire cure was born,
and the county became the chief seat of Britain's bacon industry.
Technically, Wiltshire cured ham
can be made with meat from any breed of pig.
'When it comes to taste, though,
'local farmer Caroline Wheatley-Hubbard
'favours the rare breed Tamworth.'
Aren't they just fantastic?
Such a vivid, rusty colour.
They've got good coats at this time of year, which keep them warm.
And why do you think the Tamworth is so great for bacon?
Because it's a slow-growing pig and it's got a good, hard fat.
And how do they get on here in Wiltshire?
We have them outside here because it's not too wet and boggy.
It's a quick-drying soil on the chalk,
so it drains quite quickly.
Hello, are you having a little...
Yes, he's having a little go at my wellies.
These ones are about eight weeks old.
And how new is your newest litter?
-The newest litter was born two days ago.
Let's go and have a look at them.
It's nice to see you all, but I'm off to look at some littler ones.
My word! Aren't they just adorable?
-How many are there?
-Well, she's got eight here.
A good litter for a Tamworth. And she'll rear them well.
You often know when they're going to farrow,
because they start picking up bits of straw and making a nest.
It must always be exciting for you to see
the next generation in what is a very long line of history.
I can show you just how long the line is.
'Caroline can lay claim to
'the oldest pedigree herd of any pig breed in the country
'and she has a piggy family tree to prove it.'
Now, Matt, this is where the herd began in 1922,
rather a long time ago.
-So, at the top of this...
-I'll move these.
And I'll hold this end.
Are these all the pigs' names, on here?
These are all the pigs,
all the way down to the present generation.
-So, the first pig in 1922 was Jemima.
These are all her descendants.
And the fact that it is very nearly 100 years old, though,
so we're all looking forward to 2022.
-See how it goes.
-Yeah, of course.
We've got some of the old show cards, as well.
That was the Royal Show in 1933.
And then we still go to the Bath & West Show today.
So some of the pigs that we have here in the yards will be
going to the Bath & West this summer.
Let's have a look at these photos. Here we are.
This one is washing pigs before the shows.
They have to be nice and clean and they really glisten in the sun.
-It's quite brave to feed that many pigs.
He's obviously going at quite a lick there.
They're running behind him. He just drops the bag and go.
Soon as you get the first pile of food down, you're in with a chance!
Looking back at all of this history is one thing,
but, for you, there must be quite a lot of pressure there,
when you're in charge of the herd's future?
Well, that's right. It's an important part
of the national herd, as well, because we have probably
about 5% of the national herd here.
There's less than 500 pedigree Tamworth pigs in this country.
That's really why I think it's important to go on selling
the meat, because that's what's keeping the herd going.
And, later, I'll be following these pedigree pigs from farm to fork.
Now, as we all know, people in the British countryside are being
hit hard by flooding at the moment.
But are they paying the price for defending our towns and cities?
When the rains came, they came with a force and fury
not seen in this country for centuries.
Whole tracts of land disappeared in the deluge.
Communities were cut off by a rising tide of floodwater.
But that was just the start.
When the storms first blew in,
people thought it would all be over by Christmas.
They were wrong.
Each week seems to have brought a new battering.
Thousands of homes have flooded, miles of farmland have been swamped
and crops destroyed, and it's not over yet.
But the focus has shifted.
It's now no longer just about the Somerset Levels -
the floodwaters are spreading and even threatening the capital.
Flooding from Shropshire to Hampshire,
from South Wales to Surrey, is raising big questions,
like who gets the help?
According to the head of the Environment Agency, Lord Smith...
And that, he says, means answering some tough questions.
Town or country?
Front rooms or farmland?
For some people, though, those choices are already being made.
Neil Craddock owns a business making high-end wooden flooring.
What are you hoping to be able to see or do today?
I'd like to think that the water had all disappeared,
but, obviously, that ain't going to happen at all.
So, I think we'll just see a very sad scene.
'His factory is just outside the Somerset village of Burrowbridge
'and it's been flooded for more than six weeks.
'Now the only way in is by boat.'
Something approaching terra firma.
So we're going into the first floor of the building, are we?
Into the first floor, where it's the only dry part left.
So, everything down here is...
Everything below there is underwater.
What kind of value do you think's down there?
Approaching £1 million.
£1 million, all gone?
That's timber stock and machinery, all gone, yeah. The whole lot.
Can you survive?
We'll have to rebuild.
I notice a bit of a set of the chin there, a bit of determination.
Determination, you've got to.
We've been through this before and we're determined that
we're going to rebuild again, yes.
We can't actually get down onto the factory floors.
Some of the floating and swollen wood has blocked the doorways.
Take a look in here.
That is a sorry sight.
The still, dark water - it's quite spooky, really.
So, why is his factory underwater?
Neil believes that's down to dredging.
I'm very, very angry, because all of this situation is avoidable.
Had the rivers been dredged properly, as they should have done,
by the Environment Agency, none of this situation would be here today.
And I'm absolutely convinced of that.
So, if someone were to say,
"Look, this is actually quite a small area, it's 2.5% of Somerset
"or so that's underwater, maybe we should just let that go.
"We can't defend it any more."
What would you say to that?
That isn't the consensus. The consensus is that
it's the Somerset Levels
where people have lived for hundreds of years,
successfully, without depths of water like this.
The Environment Agency says it places flood defences where they are
most needed - that's based on a formula laid down by the Government.
It wants an average of £8 worth of benefit
for every £1 spent.
That inevitably favours the areas with most homes
and large populations, or, at least, it should do.
Along much of the Thames, towns and villages
have been swamped with water levels at an all-time high.
Pretty places like Datchet have been inundated,
and nearby Wraysbury, once a sleepy farming community
a day's ride from London, has become a favourite
with the nation's media,
news helicopters buzzing continually overhead.
There's almost a kind of surreal beauty to this scene,
with the weeping willow and the bridge
that actually leads to nowhere, apart from more water.
I'm on my way to see someone
who's been dealing with this for ten days now.
I somewhat doubt if he sees the artistic upside.
'Long-time resident Yaron Ivry is taking me to his home.
'It used to have a nice view of the Thames.
'Now it's in it.'
So, did you try and keep the water out of here for a bit?
Yes, so I build quite a serious defence here.
It's all blocking the water from coming into the house.
With a huge pump, that is pumping out 400 litres per minute.
It was working 24 hours a day for four days,
but eventually the water got so high.
So, you've left now?
Yeah. Now we're living in a hotel.
So, where did the floodwater reach in here?
Well, Monday morning, I wake up and seven o'clock in the morning,
I had water in my kitchen.
Look out the window. That's extraordinary!
I mean, it's an impressive view, but probably a horrific view,
as far as you're concerned?
It's a very nice view if it's not inside your home.
'Despite official denials, many people here think they've suffered
'because of flood prevention measures for nearby towns.'
I'm very happy for the people
who are living in Maidenhead and Windsor
to remain dry and maintain their lifestyle,
but it's not balanced and it's not fair.
We are here living under stress,
under the water and suffering financially as a result of it.
Because no matter insurance,
nobody can pay you for the stress
and the nights that you are awake,
looking at the river and measuring every hour where it goes.
Bad as things undoubtedly are for flooded homeowners,
they have been worse.
Across the whole country, more than 55,000 homes were flooded.
This year, despite record-breaking rainfall,
6,000 homes have been flooded.
But has that been achieved by moving
the problem from the town to the country?
Holly and Roddy Baillie-Grohman
live in Somerset, in the flooded hamlet of Thorney.
It's three weeks of coming downstairs
and getting in your waders.
-I mean, it's just horrid.
What do you think that did to the house,
the fact it was here for so long?
The longer it stays, the more it destroys the fabric of the building.
So, do you feel this area has been made into a bit of a reservoir
to protect the big towns, Taunton, Bridgwater, downstream?
We all feel that, because if one of the bigger estates went under,
there'd be all hell to pay.
It's tough, but is that not possibly a fair deal, though?
I mean, there are thousands of homes there.
If they have changed their strategy to regard houses
as water storage, then they should be up front
and say, "We don't think this village needs to exist any more,
"and we will buy them out."
Just to allow a semi status quo to develop,
But with only so much to spend on flood prevention,
especially in rural areas,
many experts feel that sacrifices of some sort
are now inevitable.
Hannah Cloke is a hydrologist from Reading University.
She knows all about floods and the movement of water,
and thinks we're faced with some hard choices.
For very big floods like we've been experiencing recently,
we might have to accept that the land will flood.
We have to learn to live with that a bit better.
For smaller floods, you can do some simple things,
like trying to slow the water down in the uplands
and trying to get it to infiltrate into the ground,
which means that it hits the rivers much more slowly,
and therefore the downstream flooding is not so bad.
Downstream, when you are on the flood plain,
the best thing to do is to make space for that water
on the flood plain so that it's stored.
There's normally something on the flood plain already,
because we've built on a lot of our flood plains
or they're used for agricultural land.
There is a balance there to strike between
trying to protect settlements and other pieces of land
and not causing downstream problems.
When you talk about balancing where the water is stored in a flood plain,
is that a question of fields versus towns and villages?
Often that's a realistic choice that people are going to have to make.
We need to think about flood risk management strategies,
that means taking a whole catchment approach,
looking at upstream and the middle reaches
and the lowland flood plains too.
That may mean that we need to think about
storing that flood water on those fields.
That's a big ask of those who manage
most of the landscape - the farmers...
..many of whom feel they've suffered enough already,
with crops ruined and pasture under water.
The river burst its bank, and there was a flood of water
a foot deep, went across this field straight into the houses,
flooding that farmhouse there.
It's just been continuous.
Colin Rayner's family have farmed here in the Thames Valley
He's been flooded before but nothing like this.
He puts it down to lack of management.
The rivers are not maintained, the ditches are not dug,
the ones we don't have control over.
My view is it's 50 years of neglect of our infrastructure
in the Thames Valley.
People have forgotten the Thames Valley and the Thames is a drain.
But it's not for nothing that the Thames flood plain is called
a flood plain.
Yes, but not twice in one month.
We expect to be flooded for seven or 14 days,
not for six weeks.
Many farmers believe their fields are being routinely sacrificed
to protect homes.
Turning the British countryside into a natural flood defence
would ask even more -
giving up land around rivers and on the coast,
putting in ponds to catch water
and even moving sheep from the hills
and planting trees instead.
Would farmers buy that?
I'm with Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers' Union.
We as farmers would accept the idea of putting farmland before houses
In recent times, we've been worrying about people's lives as well,
so lives, houses have got to come first.
Where does that leave food production?
It's a massive challenge.
We have to make a priority of our best agricultural land
and we've got figures that show that 58% of our best grade one land
sits below a 5-metre contour.
If we get floods year after year,
that will stop our ability to feed ourselves.
But an awful lot of hydrologists and flood scientists,
not just those in the Environment Agency,
say this idea of using our land differently,
to store water, is viable - it's scientifically proven.
I think it's... I'm really open about this.
With climate change, with extreme weather events,
we're going to have to think differently.
But we've got to put a better value on agricultural land.
But when the waters rise next time,
will we really value farmland over houses?
This choice may well make us all think again
about our country's landscape
and the way we use it.
The vast expanse of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire,
home to ancient monuments,
as well as our armed forces.
As Jules has been finding out,
this landscape is playing an important part
in helping those who have suffered life-changing illness or injury
in the line of duty.
The grenade exploded probably three feet away from me.
The nightmares began six weeks after
and they were every night, two or three a night.
It was real, it was... You could smell the cordite,
you could feel the heat
and the sand in my gloves...
Even sleeping tablets would not keep me asleep.
It would all... It would all just happen exactly the same.
Five years ago, Corporal Michael Day was blown up
during a routine patrol in Afghanistan.
I wasn't even thinking a day ahead.
I was probably thinking an hour ahead
and I had no horizons.
There was no light at the end of the tunnel.
I dread to think what it would have been like
if Help for Heroes wouldn't have been here.
After medical treatment, Michael came here
to Tedworth House in Wiltshire.
It's a recovery centre run by Help for Heroes
in partnership with the MoD.
Its aim is simple - to equip soldiers with the tools, skills
and confidence they need to create a whole new future for themselves.
Lieutenant Colonel Grant Ingleton MC
is the Commanding Officer of the recovery centre.
-This is definitely the place to get better.
What does recovery mean for soldiers coming here?
These young soldiers,
up until their injury or long-term sickness,
were looking for a full career.
Effectively, they are leaving way before they wanted to.
What we do here in the recovery centre
is bring them in,
get their mind set on recovery
and looking at, instead of advancing on the enemy,
to try and get them independent,
reskilled, retrained and doing something really useful
in civilian life.
How many have you had come through since the doors opened?
The doors opened in July '11.
We've had over 900 we've helped in some way, shape or form.
-They can come back, I presume?
-Absolutely. Absolutely right.
Each soldier has been given the Queen's shilling.
No matter what, they were going to lay down their life
for Queen and country.
I think they deserve the best we can give them,
to assist them to transition and recover into civilian life.
CHAIN SAW BUZZES
In amongst the 30 acres of woodland that surround Tedworth House,
the natural world is having a profound impact
on the recovering soldiers.
Bombardier Andrew Deans
is getting hands-on with nature by bird-ringing with Simon Tucker,
from the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.
Have you always had an interest in wildlife?
To be honest, not in particular, no.
But since coming through the recovery process,
it's good to get out into the open.
Especially confidence as well -
it's getting out and amongst people, if you've got away from that.
-Andrew, would you like to hold the bird?
-He might nip.
-That's it. And there you go.
-Look at that.
-You're a natural!
-Now, this is your first week here...
-It is, yes.
Can I ask you, how did you have your injury?
I was checking on the guys in the sangars -
or the look-out towers -
and we got struck by an RPG.
It caused a bit of a chain reaction
and started to cause all the blood vessels in my brain to close up.
They had to do the equivalent to heart bypass on my brain.
So, coming to Tedworth, with activities like this,
must be wonderful.
It feels good that you're being looked after.
And then open up with this hand, and he'll just fly off.
For some recovering soldiers like Andrew,
the woodland provides a well-needed breathing space,
but for others, it points the way to a new career.
Dave Turner from the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust
uses the careful management and conservation of this landscape
to inspire the troops.
There's a lot to be said for the green outdoors.
Just a good feeling of wellbeing.
It does have a healing effect - I'm convinced of it.
I've been in woodlands for 20-odd years,
but it still gives me that buzz and wow factor,
walking into a woodland.
Here we are on the edge of Salisbury Plain.
The Army is all around us, helicopters in the sky,
tanks we can hear rumbling away in the distance.
For some people who come here to Tedworth,
that must feel comforting and familiar,
but for others, I imagine it could be a real problem.
A lot of people do suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder
and they have different trigger factors.
You give them the support that they need
but also say, "Look, if you feel more comfortable,
"just retreat back into the house."
Can you identify any success stories that you've had
over the last few years?
Yeah. One particular person would be Michael Day.
He's now come out of the armed services - he's a veteran.
He engaged in the process, went on his chain saw and brushcutter course
and is now practically using and implementing those skills.
CHAIN SAW BUZZES
But for Michael, it's been a challenging road to recovery
after experiencing so much so young.
When did you first join the Army?
I joined in 2001.
I joined as a 17-year-old.
My first tour was in Bosnia.
That was six months after joining my regiment.
We went to Iraq in 2007.
That was quite fierce fighting every day.
I think we had the record for mortars being launched at us.
It was something like 83 average a day.
And then you found yourself later in Afghanistan.
And that eventually brought you here.
Tell us how that tour began and what happened.
I was a...sniper.
I was involved in an explosion with a grenade.
The grenade exploded probably three feet away from me.
-Where that chain saw is?
-Pretty much so, yeah.
It damaged my back quite badly.
I took a lot of shrapnel to both legs, buttocks,
and the right side of my temple,
which resulted in me having a mild brain injury.
-Were you suffering from post-traumatic stress?
I wasn't sleeping. I wasn't coping very well
with the fact that I wasn't going to be able to do my job any more.
I knew that that day was going to come
where I'd have to hand in the green kit,
and that was one of my biggest demons,
not accepting that.
I didn't think I was employable anywhere.
I didn't think I could do anything else.
Being a sniper, there are not many jobs on the outside
where you can use them skills.
But here we are in this woodland.
As a sniper, you'd have been trained to exist here
-without us being able to see you.
And yet here we are enjoying this in a very different sort of way.
You clearly have an empathy with this kind of setting.
I spent many hours just walking
and just enjoying being in the woods.
I feel at home in the woods.
I've always liked being outside because it was my job,
but being in woods as quiet as this,
Michael's experience in these woodlands was not only therapeutic,
but the chain saw and brushcutter skills
he learnt here have given him a whole new future to look forward to.
I have gotten hold of some woods,
donated to me by a very kind fellow.
I gave him my idea to create a place for disadvantaged children to come
and learn, basically, what I learnt,
and that was teamwork, humour, respect.
In the future, it will hopefully be running courses from there.
So you've gone from being pupil to teacher?
What I've seen so far at Tedworth House
is that nature can be a wonderful healer.
Nobody is pretending that the woods here
can offer a cure for what many of the young men and women here
have been through.
But, as we've seen, it puts many of them
on the right road to recovery.
Now, winter might not seem the best time to head outdoors.
But it's well worth braving the cold, as Julia discovered
when she headed east.
Here in Cambridgeshire, it's far from a bleak midwinter.
There's a veritable feast for the eyes and ears
all along our coastlines,
wetlands, estuaries and right on our doorsteps.
This is a prime time of year for spotting birds
and in places you might not expect.
Ever heard of an urban birder?
No, it's not a new avian species, it's someone like David Lindo,
who spends his time looking and listening for birds
in our urban spaces, like the cathedral city of Ely.
Now, this is not the kind of place that most people would expect
somebody like you, a birder, to come.
I love watching birds everywhere, but urban birding is by far my favourite.
You know why? Because it's a challenge.
All right, how am I going to get into the zone?
Once you open your mind to the idea
that birds are everywhere, then you'll see them.
Also, this time of year, a lot of birds come into cities
because cities are warmer than being out in the countryside,
and you can get a lot closer.
-There is a common gull flying to the right. Can you see it?
What are we most like to see at this time of year?
We get lots of things like blue tits and great tits
and chaffinches coming as well.
And then there are a lot of winter visitors, red wings and fieldfares.
And my favourite, the one that I love seeing the most out of all birds,
it's got to be the waxwing.
The waxwing is a bird that comes in from Scandinavia,
I am so jealous of you, that you can look up in the sky
and you can recognise a shape that's this size
and you can tell me... I just haven't got that ability.
But birding in cities is not about identifying half the time.
It's all about enjoying the actual experience
of seeing something flying over your head
-or seeing something come to your garden.
Don't worry about what it is,
it's all about enjoying the actual experience.
So, whenever you are,
you stand a good chance of spotting one of our feathered friends.
But if you're looking for a real bird of paradise,
look no further than the Ouse Washes just outside Ely,
the largest washland in Britain,
and that doesn't mean a place for your dirty laundry!
Every winter, this area is flooded.
This is THE winter holiday destination for thousands of birds -
Russians, Eastern Europeans, Scandinavians,
they all make a bird-line for the UK,
especially to locations like this one.
Welney Wetland Centre across the border in Norfolk
is one of nine reserves run by the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust.
They're most famous winter residents?
The fabulous and feisty swans.
Every day, as dawn breaks,
thousands of swans take flight in search of food.
The whoopers are the noisy honkers with the yellow beaks,
but it is also home to Bewick's and mute swans.
Later, they will return for dinner and a safe roost for the night.
So how did this wetland become a wonderland
for all manner of feathered beast?
Well, hello and welcome again to the Wildfowl Trust.
This is a very busy time of year for us
and a very busy time of year for the birds too.
Described as one of the greatest conservationists
of the 20th century,
Sir Peter Scott started the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust in 1946
to protect birds and their habitats.
But he wasn't just a champion of nature.
He was also a talented artist, and today,
his daughter, Dafila Scott, still follows in his footsteps.
Clearly you have inherited
some of your father's talents in this department.
-A little bit.
-Did you draw with your father?
I did, because I got interested in the Bewick's swans at Slimbridge
when I was only a teenager,
and we had to draw the faces in order to identify the individuals.
All the different birds have different patterns on their bills,
unlike almost any other bird, and I got completely hooked on it,
and his enthusiasm was infectious.
You know, he loved the birds, and I caught it.
So, what inspires you at this time of year?
The amazing thing about winter is the migratory birds
that come in this time of year.
Seeing them flying in on a crisp day is just absolutely beautiful.
-I love it.
-And swans are your favourite, your chosen bird?
I did my PhD studying the swans here, and they are also interesting
in their behaviour, because they go around in families
and pairs, and they have some kind
of dominance relationship within the flock,
so you see them having arguments and you see them
sorting them out, and it's lovely.
The very best time to see the swans in all their glory
is when they are filling their bellies.
I'm getting special access to help with feeding time.
-What's on the menu then, Leigh?
-Just wheat? That's it?
That's it, just wheat.
It's like an After Eight mint after all the potatoes
-and sugar they have been eating.
-No exotic fruits, no bananas?
Leigh Marshall is in charge of the catering today and he has
an unusual way of letting the birds know that grub is up.
So this is the whistle that they are used to so they know that
you're coming, and because we're near the wheelbarrow,
they won't fly off. LEIGH WHISTLES
So you can see these are all adult swans,
they are all completely brilliant white,
but then there is one that is just further out there that looks
like it has just come out of a chimney, it's got a dusting of grey.
That's a young whooper sworn, that's this year's youngsters,
and that bird has just made a 1,500-mile migration
all the way from Iceland.
This lake acts as a giant bird table.
The mute swans are the first to feed while the whooper swans
are a little more cautious.
Here they come. They're coming in now.
You can hear their beaks patting down on the water
as they snap up the grain.
The swans revel in our winter months,
as do many birds in our countryside and our cities.
What better opportunity to get out
and enjoy some of our most flighty creatures?
This largely rural county lends its name to its most famous exports -
bacon and ham.
When it comes to taste here at Boyton Farm,
the Tamworth breed wins out.
With 25 sows farrowing twice a year,
lots of little piglets develop with a hard layer of fat,
great for flavour and ideal for curing.
And farm butcher Mike Alexander is showing me
what's needed to get it onto the table.
OK, then, Mike, talk us through this carcass.
Right, so what we've got here, we've got a lovely piece of Tamworth pork.
We've got leg, which is going to be your gammon.
Then from here down is all your bacon cuts.
-Belly is streaky, loin is going to be your back bacon.
-OK, question, then.
When does gammon become ham?
In my opinion, you've got pork,
it's cured, it's then gammon,
-it's cooked, it's then ham.
Depending on who you ask, what area of the country they are from,
-you'll get a different answer.
All right, then, let's cut this up.
First of all, we are going to take the leg off,
which is going to form our gammon.
-There you go.
Once the leg is off, it's time to separate the loin and belly pork
so they can be used as bacon.
I'm going to cut right the way through the meat
and I'm going to stay parallel with this back here
and come all the way back to there.
Look at the effort that your butchers go to to give you bacon!
-Is that all right?
-That's fine, not too bad at all.
A couple of years, you'll be perfect. MATT LAUGHS
So, let's talk, then, about this curing process
and the brine that you are putting it into,
cos you've got a big tub down here.
So, what we've got in here
is a few pieces of your loin of pork in there.
They've been curing for a couple of days now.
Still need another three days in there.
OK. And what is in there, then?
-What is the liquid?
-Basically, it's water and salt. OK?
There is a few other little bits and pieces in there,
but I'd have to shoot you if I told you.
And they often say, don't they, that the only bit of pig
that you don't use is the squeal?
Yeah. And if you could bottle it, you would use it.
So, speaking of that then, there is a very precious bit of fat in here.
OK, your flare fat, or leaf fat.
Good for lard. Traditionally, you would use this in lardy cake.
Once it's rendered down, it actually doesn't have must taste to it.
Absolutely brilliant for baking.
And here it is - the sweet and sticky lardy cake.
Very popular in the southern counties of England,
with each region having its own quirky way of making it.
Some people have tried putting spices in.
We don't put any spaces in,
we just stick to the flavour of the fruit and the lard and sugar.
It's a recipe that works for us, so why change it?
A little bit of lardy cake every now and then is a real treat.
Richard Marshall's prize-winning recipe
has been passed down to him from his grandfather through his father.
If there was a competition between myself and Dad
as to who could make the best lardy cake...
I'm pretty sure he would win, beat me hands down.
After leaving it to prove, it's baked until golden brown.
So, what's Richard's dad's verdict?
Really nice. Yeah, it's good.
Wiltshire. On these chalky downlands, the military have made their mark.
And this landscape is also having a profound impact
on the lives of our Armed Forces.
I'm at Tedworth House, a recovery centre run by Help for Heroes,
and I have been meeting members of our Armed Forces who have suffered
either life-changing illness or injury
and who are here learning how to adapt to what, in many cases,
is a very different kind of life.
One of the many success stories here is Michael Day, a wounded veteran
who has turned his life around, all thanks to getting closer to nature.
At what point, Michael, did you realise that, actually,
you did have a future to look forward to?
I think it was when we built the first shelter here in the woods.
I mean, sitting in a doctor's chair and talking about it is good,
but actually going out and doing physical things with people
that have got injuries, it was a good sense of achievement.
Today at base camp,
groups of recovering soldiers are taught woodland craft skills
by Amy Cahillane from the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.
Now, arts and crafts in woodland,
isn't that a bit soft for all these tough Army types?
Actually, what you don't realise is
some of the things we do are quite physical.
When you come from a military background,
you learn about lighting fires, so there is whittling.
They've already got maybe some natural whittling skills.
-They're creating utensils, basically?
Cos when you create something that's positive,
then you're going to take that away
and you're going to feel better in yourself,
but also, they have learnt a new skill.
I can hear plenty of banter coming from that camp over there.
Shall we go and join them?
-Hello, Andrew. How are you?
-Yes, good, thank you.
How's it all going, then?
-Yes, really well, thank you.
-You're packing it all in, aren't you?
Bird-ringing and now carving and all the rest of it.
Tell me, what are you gaining out of this whole experience?
When you are off work, you are often sort of isolated from others,
from friends, from colleagues, often from family.
This gives you the opportunity to be with people
that, you know, get you, for starters.
During the early stages, obviously, of your recovery,
your confidence and everything is knocked down,
and doing things like this, you know,
getting involved, can sort of boost you back into yourself.
It gives you the opportunity to expand what you do.
As a soldier, all the good things that you've done for your country
will always be there and never be forgotten,
but you can now, you know, take a new path.
Now, talking of skills and the future,
hold up your spoons, everybody.
I don't you're going to become professional spoon carvers, are you?
-You are probably right.
'The big idea behind Tedworth House was the inspiration of Bryn Parry
'who served with the Royal Green Jackets
'before co-founding Help for Heroes six years ago.'
When you first envisaged the idea of a recovery centre, did you always
know that it would involve such a huge element of the great outdoors?
A lot of the soldiers, although they spend their whole life
running around in the great outdoors,
are actually from urban backgrounds, and I'm a country boy
and I know the value of being out in the countryside.
So, yes, very much so.
In fact, when we looked at the options of these houses,
option one was a new-build on, you know, a brownfield site,
on a two-acre car park, or this.
It was... for me, it was a no-brainer.
Earlier, I met Michael Day,
who is the most extraordinary guy who has seen the whole process
from start to finish and is out there now full of confidence.
That must put a smile on your face from dawn till dusk.
You feel proud, is the word. Inspired, certainly. Driven, maybe.
Because they are so... so worth it.
I suppose, every time any of us have felt a bit knackered
over the last six-and-a-half years,
you only have to talk to some of the guys to sort of,
you know, get back on your feet and do it again.
Tedworth gave me focus, direction
and a good transition from Army life to civilian life
and finding what I can do in civvy street.
I dread to think what it would have been like
if Help for Heroes wouldn't have been here at Tedworth House, so...
Our countryside is a living landscape full of flora
and fauna, but, as Adam has been finding out, sometimes
it's the creatures you can't even see that cause the biggest problems.
A few weeks ago, we had one of our vets here to pregnancy test
this lot, our Belted Galloways.
We wanted to make sure Crackers the bull over there was doing his job.
And most of the ladies were pregnant, but there was one disappointment.
Tense moment when we are pregnancy testing the cattle.
We want them to be giving birth to a calf every year.
-She is a no, I'm afraid.
-This one's a no.
This is the handling pens where we were pregnancy testing
the cows a couple of weeks ago.
And this is the cow that wasn't in calf,
so we sent her bloods away that we took for testing,
and, unfortunately, the results are not good.
There is a microscopic menace that is quietly infecting livestock.
It's called Neospora and it is small but deadly.
There are no obvious symptoms for an infected cow,
but looks can be deceiving.
It's a particularly nasty parasite because it causes abortion in cows.
In fact, it is the most common cause of abortion in cattle in the UK.
And although this cow gave birth last year, she is empty now,
she hasn't got a calf inside her,
so she may well already have aborted, but really we just don't know.
And she's not the only one.
Parasite Neospora has spread to other cattle on the farm.
Some of my Gloucesters, a Highland and a White Park are also infected.
In fact, 11 of our cattle have now tested positive for the disease.
Cows can't directly infect other cows in the herd,
but Neospora can be passed in other ways.
The most common source of infection is from a dam,
a mother cow, to its calf while it is still in the womb.
But the other source of infection is from dog poo.
Neospora uses the dog as a host and then produces eggs inside the animal.
When the dog does its business,
the parasite eggs spread into the countryside.
The cow then eats contaminated grass or silage and becomes infected.
Any dog can pick it up by eating infected meat -
that could be raw meat or bones from the butchers.
Farm dogs are particularly susceptible,
as they often hang around sheds and eat afterbirth from calf and cows.
It sounds a bit off-putting, but is quite common,
and there is usually no harm in it.
But once a dog has consumed the Neospora,
the dog will become the host, and the parasite will continue to spread.
The only way to find out if a cow is infected
is from a blood test or a post-mortem after abortion.
But if I want to see this parasite for myself,
I'm going to need expert help.
I've come to the Royal Veterinary College in Hertfordshire where
they have got an entire department dedicated to parasitology.
It is in labs like this where they can take a closer look.
Time for the white coat.
Dr Damer Blake is a parasitologist.
He's got all the kit you need to see this microscopic disease.
-Good to see you.
-Is this the dreaded Neospora?
-Yes, this is Neospora caninum.
What you can see here is an oocyst. That is the egg of the parasite.
How do you collect the Neospora eggs to start off with?
You can collect the fetal samples from the environment,
and when you collect them, you store them in a buffer
so that stops bacterial growth and allows us to preserve parasite eggs
for some time so we can work with them in the future.
And then that's what you've got on the slide?
Exactly right. So we put a sample of this onto this chamber here,
and you can see an example of a parasite egg.
So what is it, in fact?
So this is a protozoan parasite,
that means it's a small single-celled organism.
It bigger than a bacteria but smaller than most parasites.
So it is inside the dog that then poos onto the pasture.
What happens then?
Initially, this parasite, when it looks like this, is not infectious.
It takes two or three days,
and then the parasite will change its appearance to look like this.
You can see there are several compartments.
At this stage, the parasite is now infectious.
If it is ingested by a cow, the cow will become infected.
So that sits on the pasture for...how long will it last?
It will lose viability over time,
-but they can remain viable for at least six months.
So then the cow will eat the grass where the dog muck was
and ingest the Neospora into its system.
That's quite right, but it can be over a broader area than that,
so it might be birds, insects or rodents,
or even wind and rain can spread the dog faeces
and the parasites with it across the environment.
So when a cow eats that grass, it becomes infected.
And what happens once it's inside it?
Once it's ingested this parasite egg, these then invade the cow
and migrate through the cow, primarily
to the central nervous system where they will set up infection.
They can also cross the placenta and infect the calf.
What sort of impact is this having on the cattle industry?
This parasite is now recognised as the number one
cause of abortion in cattle in the UK and in Europe.
In terms of cost,
it has been estimated to cost the UK cattle industry
in excess of £20 million.
Globally, we are looking at more than £800 million every year.
-Wow! Serious, isn't it?
-Certainly very serious.
We've got it on the farm,
but prior to this year, I'd never heard of it.
You don't hear very much about it. It was only actually discovered
and named as a recognised parasite in the late 1980s.
-How do I get rid of it?
-If you want to get rid of it,
you are going to be looking at culling animals.
Unfortunately, there are no drugs
and no vaccine available at this time.
So I've just got to get rid of those cows that have got it?
It's incredible that such a tiny creature
can have such a damaging impact.
Sadly, there isn't much I can do for the cows
infected by the Neospora parasite,
but as the meat is still safe to eat, I'll send them off for beef.
It's a sacrifice, but hopefully it will ensure
the health of the rest of my herd by removing the infection from the farm.
For any farmer who keeps cattle, it's a grim outlook, especially when
we've already had diseases like Schmallenberg and bovine TB
to deal with.
We've just got to hope that scientists can come up
with a solution before too long.
As for the dogs,
it is worth bearing in mind that any pooch can carry the parasite.
In some cases, they too can be affected by Neospora,
passing it on to their puppies.
But while there still isn't a vaccine for them either,
there is one thing that dog owners can do for now.
Although it is a messy business,
here on the farm we are going to pick up the dog muck
when they mess on the pastures,
and I'm hoping where there are dog walkers walking on footpaths
that go through fields, they'll do their bit too
and pick up the poops.
Today, we're in the rural county of Wiltshire,
where I've been meeting the oldest pedigree pig herd in the country.
Rare breed Tamworths.
When it comes to bacon,
they are the breed of choice for farmer Caroline Wheatley-Hubbard.
It's the best of bacon, because it's a slow-growing pig
and it's got a good, hard fat.
In the process of following them from farm to fork,
I've now landed the job of bringing home the bacon...
..which John Symes has been smoking over smouldering sawdust all night.
-You can smell the smoke from up the road.
-It's fantastic, isn't it?
Yeah, it's wonderful. So here we are, then,
in what's a modern version of the old smokehouse.
This machine is doing what your grandmother's grandmother
-would have done 200 years ago.
So we've got trays of smouldering oak sawdust in here.
We only use hardwood - we don't use any softwoods at all,
because they would produce too much tar,
-and that would make the meat or fish very acidic.
-How hot is it?
30 degrees, the temperature of a nice summer's day.
The question is, is the pork ready?
Oh, my word, look at that!
'After 16 hours, the bacon is ready.'
Beautiful. Obviously, it gives it this lovely oaky, smoky flavour,
but there is a purpose for actually smoking.
It began time immemorial with the cavemen drying out his meat
in the summertime when he had plenty of meat
and kept it preserved in the smoke of the fires for the winter.
Can you make sort of dodgy meat taste better?
If you start off with rubbish, you end up with smoked rubbish.
I can't improve on something
you shouldn't have bothered smoking in the first place.
Right, OK, well, I'll take this away,
because I'm sure that Caroline will be absolutely delighted.
After a busy day,
it's time to savour the fruits of Caroline's labour...
with the ultimate bacon sandwich.
Wow! That looks impressive.
And don't forget, there's those pigs to bed down still.
Just give us ten minutes, will you?
There we go, look. Snuggle yourselves in there. Perfect.
Now, that is all we've got time for from Wiltshire.
A couple weeks ago, we asked for your suggestions
of where you think we should visit on the programme
and we had hundreds sent in, so thanks to each and every one of you.
We've read all of them
and we've decided that the first place we're going to go
is the Isle of Portland off the Dorset coast.
So that is where we're going to be next week.
I hope you can join us then.
Right, can you stop nibbling my wellies, please?
The Countryfile team visits the rural county of Wiltshire. Matt Baker looks at the pig industry. The county has a long and proud history with the animal, and Matt visits a farm containing the oldest pedigree herd of pigs in the country. They are Tamworths, and Matt helps out with the piglets who are just a few days old. He also sees how the meat from the pigs is cured and smoked.
Jules Hudson is at one of Help for Heroes' recovery centres at Tedworth House, meeting some of the servicemen who have suffered life-changing injuries or illnesses whilst serving their country. He sees how working in the countryside helps in their recovery and also helps set them up with skills for a career outside the forces.
Julia Bradbury is in Cambridgeshire looking at the birds that call the UK home in the winter months. She heads to Ely with urban birder David Lindo to see what they can find in the city, before heading to Welney Wetland Centre to feed the swans who have made the long journey from colder climes.
With huge swathes of our countryside under water, Tom Heap asks whether rural areas are being sacrificed so our towns and cities can keep dry.
Down on the farm, Adam finds out about a parasite that is affecting cattle, including some of his own.