Edwardian Farm: The hard graft of country life

Wednesday 10 November 2010, 12:00

Ruth Goodman Ruth Goodman

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Our Edwardian Farm year is over! We have packed up the cottage, sent the animals off to their new homes and said a reluctant goodbye to all the many local people who so generously helped us.

But although it's over for the farming team and the crew - you can join us at the very beginning when the new series airs tonight on BBC Two.

Peter Ginn, Alex Langlands and Ruth Goodman in Edwardian Farm

It has been such a full year, hardly time to breathe let alone think. Alex Langlands, Peter Ginn and I are now quite a long standing team. Having lived through a 1620s year for Tales Of The Green Valley and then an 1880s year for Victorian Farm together we know each other well and have all ended up with our own interests and responsibilities.

This year we moved the filming to Devon, at Morwellham Quay, and while the action is based primarily on the farm, the new location allowed us to explore other aspects of the working countryside, including rivers, coasts and mining.

Peter's soft spot this year was for his fish. When it was suggested that we should have a go at hatching and raising trout for the sport fishing trade, Alex and I were rather sceptical, but Peter got stuck in immediately.

The odd contraption in the woods was regularly fiddled with and lovingly supplied with fresh juicy maggots throughout the summer. I don't know who was most surprised at its success, Peter or us.

Alex arrived for the year with his own cockerel - Sunny - under one arm, determined to make a go of poultry farming. My, was that cockerel pampered.

Ruth Goodman on her bike

As we accurately portray the life of the era and the roles played by men and women, I always get the domestic work, which whilst it does mean loads of cleaning and washing also means that I get to do loads of cooking and making things, both of which I really enjoy.

Ooh the food of this region has been a joy - scrummy and interesting. I also got a bike - wheeeeeee!!! The freedom, the speed, you have no idea of the sense of liberation.

Around the farm Peter supplied the most astonishing amount of muscle. Think you need a machine to do that job? Ha! Call Peter! It is not possible to overstate just how physical Edwardian country life was.

We have certainly all worked our socks off, farming, mining, scrubbing, fishing, a thousand and one jobs. Definitely worth it though, we have had a great year, so interesting, loads of fun and wonderful, wonderful people.

Ruth Goodman is a participant in Edwardian Farm.

Edwardian Farm is on BBC Two at 8pm on Wednesday, 10 November.

For further programme times, please visit the upcoming episodes page.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    So ... I triedf to get some buttermilk today to make the cut rounds, but the shop didn't have any. Is it possible to use yoghurt and milk? As the reaction is between the bicarb and the buttermilk I couldn't work out if that would actually work since youghurt is acidic, but buttermilk isn't - as far as I know. It's just the milk left after making the butter, so low in fat?
    Does anyone know please?

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Recipe for Cut Rounds as used by Richard Hunt, Executive Chef, The Grand Hotel, Torquay as posted elsewhere in the public domain:

    Makes 12 approx

    500gm Plain Flour
    50gm Milk Powder
    35gm Baking Powder
    50gm Butter
    220ml Buttermilk
    70ml Milk
    (If you like a sweet version add 30gm Caster Sugar)
    Beaten egg to Glaze
    1. Preheat the Oven to 180c or Gas 6
    2. Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl
    3. Rub in the Butter
    4. Mix in the Buttermilk, and Normal milk, bring together until a soft dough is reached
    5. Please use your hands, not a mixer, as you will over tighten the dough!!
    6. Roll into a cylinder shape about 3 inches across
    7. Cut into pieces approx 60gm each
    8. Slightly press to a nice shape
    9. Place on the Baking Tray and Glaze with egg
    10. Bake for 14-18 minutes until golden and risen
    The dough must be soft not dry, don’t be afraid to add a touch more liquid if you are not happy with the consistency

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Lovely series It would be even better if the recipes used in the series could be set out in a booklet. As it appears the cut rounds are the most popular but even the hotel chef does not use milk powder. What was it's purpose?

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Thanks for the Cut Rounds recipe, never heard of them before but about to try them
    Question, 35gm baking powder sounds like a lot! Was expecting say 2 tsp
    Has anyone tried the recipe yet? What was it like?

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    oooh ... I used 1/2 teaspoon of bicarb to 6oz SR and 6oz plain flour, not 35gms baking powder ... it did seem so little, but I ploughed ahead.

    I've just made them, and I really do like the recipe I used - the one with 1/2 tsp bicarb. If I did them again I would knead the mixture a bit more - I was so afraid f over-working the dough that I erred on the side of caution, with the result that they are a bit 'rough' in texture on the outside.

    I would also bake them on a lower shelf in the oven so they cook a little slower, but that's a personal-oven thing and your's might be OK.

    They are 'bread-y' in texture unlike scones, and much more 'neutral', so I can see they'd be able to take lots of different kinds of filling. And they're low in fat too, although so are scones. All-in-all, very nice!

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    Hello all, Does one of you please remember the name of the blue mixture Ruth is preparing to spread on the soil, against Mildiou, I think something with Bordeaux????
    Thanks a lot!

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    Hello Staminala, the mixture was indeed called "Bordeaux Mixture" and was "a diluted solution of copper sulphate & lime." Just watching the eipsode again, didn't notice any quantities being mentioned though....

    Just to say, thank you to everyone involved in the creation of this wonderful series. History never had so much heart, I just love it, it is enchanting - such a delight to watch, especially when there is so much bad reality telly. Wonder what you will be doing next..? Can't wai.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    Hi Staminala, Yes the product for protecting against mildew is Bordeaux Mixture. I think you can still buy it as a ready made powder, at Garden Centres and shops. I have used the powder mixed with water and sprayed it over the leaves of the potatoes. I haven't used it on tomatoes though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    I have just seen the authentic recipe for Cut Rounds from Richard Hunt. The 35g of Baking Powder does seem a lot, so has anyone used that much in their cooking and if so, how did the Cut Rounds turn out?
    I love this programme and was amused to see Ruth trying out lacemaking. It looks incredibly difficult and very labour intensive. I have just this week been to an exhibition of lace at my local museum in Aberystwyth. It was fascinating to see the traditionally made lace alongside machined lace. I can remember my Grandmother using hankies with handmade lace borders. In my teens (50's and 60's) I used to get lacy hankies as presents from Aunties and friends, which, by then were machine made. They were still pretty though. I still have a few for special occasions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Love the series - just as brilliant as the Victorian Farm - the trio simply must do another similar series.
    In defence of David Upshalls (24) over the pronunciation of Morewellham - I grew up, just a short distance away in Plymouth, and clearly remember various trips to the quay with my primary school back in the 70's - a true Devon maid of a family which goes back generations in deepest darkest Devon, and he was right to take advice as the pronunciation does vary within the county - Morewellham has always been pronounced by my family and all I know in the same way as the narrator and will never be More-well-ham in my mind. So a little bit of mix and match in the programmes keeps all us Devon people happy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this series especially as I was fortunate enough to visit Belstone at the time Alex, Peter and Ruth were filming their Edwardian picnic on Dartmoor. It must have been frustrating as the army were flying helicopters in the area at the time. Great show - I hope you can come up with an idea for another 'farm' series showing past farming lives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    Hello from the States. I was introduced recently to your series "Victorian Farm" and "Edwardian Farm" via You Tube and have been absolutely glued to the episodes for the past several days. It is so enjoyable to see all the attention to authentic detail and to get a real picture of what rural life was like during those periods of history. Living in the agricultural heartland of America has given me a life-long interest in the farming life ways of the past. This is truly a wonderful series of programs, I hope you will find a new similar project soon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    I'm in my 60's and although life has changed beyond all recognition during my lifetime, Ruth, Peter and Alex, take me back to long summers on my grandparent's farm in the early 1950's. So many of things in the series remind me of the simple life they lived with so many of the chores still very much a part of their daily lives. Probably the one thing which stands out from all those memories though is how contented they were. Lots of people say in their comments how useful these programs are in terms of teaching history. Perhaps the more important lesson though, is that a simple life is so much more rewarding. Just imagine the implications if people went back to that - but had the benefit of modern building techniques, sanitation, medicine etc. I suspect we would be happier, healthier, less stressed and the environment would improve - and I know from working my own acre and a half, that weight isn't an issue!

    My particular thanks to Ruth Pteter and Alex for making these programs which are simply a delight to watch.

    I don't know what they are planning, for the future - but I would really love to see them make a series about living a year in a future where we take the best of the modern world, and the best of history - to show just what can be achieved - ok. it isn't history - yet!

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    I just finished watching episode 11, I wonder if Peter is related to Mario of Donkey Kong fame. That mustache!

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    so the third series comes to an end soon. of all three series it is impossible to name the best one they are a huge breath of fresh air on tv literally. i am fascinated to know, do these good people have a bunch of patient wives, husband children waiting for a year for them to come home or do they get odd days off for good behaviour, where do alex, peter and ruth sleep if i may be so bold what a huge chunk of time this programme must take to make. my hope now is for another series and surely farming in world war 2 has to be a live candidate. ruth as a land girl, peter with dodgy accent as an italian prisoner of war. alex would look just the ticket as a dashing fighter pilot but would draw the line at bailing out to land in a cornfield i'm sure. i hope very much though that another series is in planning stage. many thanks for the sheer pleasure of this series.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    This is another fantastic series showing how people really lived. A window into the past where there were mountains of hard work, and lots of rural skills which are now being lost.The presenters are wonderful, throwing themselves into even the most unpleasant of tasks with humour. A real joy to watch and an inspiration!

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    I'd just like to say how enormously I've been enjoying this latest series. It has been a perfect mixture of fascinating, informative and entertaining, and the three presenters are an absolute delight with their breadth of knowledge and their admirable willingness to get stuck in to no-matter-what tough or revolting or bizarre task.

    Several other commenters have suggested ideas for future series. I've noticed that "Edwardian Farm" has touched several times on issues relating to fishing and the sea and I would have thought there was a lot more potential there (without treading on the toes of "Coast"). Neither of the two guys appears liable to seasickness (or at least, if you are, you've both hidden it manfully!) and Ruth seems positively eager to get in a boat.

    In a series on the Victorian/Edwardian Seaside Town one could cover the fishing and shell-fishing industries and the development of the seaside as a tourist destination, with the resulting changes in the economy and character of seaside communities, as well as the growth of seaside touristic traditions like funfairs and sticks of rock; then there's boat-building, maritime trade and the hard life of the merchant sailor, not to mention a vast range of naval and navy-related topics, and I think most of the classic British artists' colonies were coastal (and how wonderful it would be to spend a year as an Edwardian artist in a Cornish artists' colony, trying to produce a body of work using period materials and techniques!)...

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    Please, put use out of our misery! There are lots of recipes posted on the internet for Cut Rounds, and none I have found is the same as Richard Hunt's, including the one on this site. His included butter and milk powder. Can Richard's recipe, as in the programme, please be posted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    hi hilary- check out item 102 above for the "real" programme recipe from John Hunt with buttermilk, milk powder etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    I see that the Edwardian Farm is soon to be released on DVD. Does anyone know if it is okay (re copyright etc)to edit out the parts from the first few episodes about the production and use of quicklime? The reason I ask is that it would be a really useful resource for teaching the limestone section of the GCSE Chemistry specification.


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