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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Comments

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    Comment number 21.

    I enjoy the enthusiastic teams portrayal of life both Edwardian and the earlier Victorian series but PLEASE guys, get some professional, skilled and knowledgeable training in on-screen demonstrations of farming skills such as hand milking that poor goat last night - it would get mastitis (udder inflammation that can be fatal!) within weeks if regularly 'milked' (I use the term loosely!) the way the team tackled and would be no laughing matter for the goat or the edwardian family when they caused the mastitis by poor milking practise! Viewers can be inspired to rush out and acquire animals thinking it's easy and requires no skill and this causes suffering and upset.

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    Comment number 22.

    Hello to everyone who's taken the time to post comments on here. I'm the Executive Producer on the series and wanted to thank you for all the great feedback, I'm glad you've enjoyed this series as much as Victorian Farm. I also wanted to answer just a couple of points:
    To uusikaupunki1870 #14, the Wednesday night episodes are repeated at 7pm on Friday's, but I'm afraid episode 1 has been and gone, the series is however out on DVD in February.
    And to Earl #15, we are aware of the difference between quicklime and ground limestone and considered the latter, but were advised repeatedly that in this location quicklime was used in the form we demonstrated because local farmers considered it desirable to let it "burn" on the ground. Extensive research supported this and we opted for the method which was most authentic to not only the period but the regional practice. I'm pleased to say it worked, and we grew a very successful oat and potato crop there – but you'll have to wait until eps 11 and 12 to see for yourself when we harvest the crops.


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    Comment number 23.

    What are the contemporary farming guides that they are consulting please? I want to get one for when pandemic flu sends us all back to Edwardian times!

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    Comment number 24.

    in answer to diffusa - the excellent Book Of The Farm by Henry Stephens remained very much our "bible" for the series. In Victorian Farm we used a Victorian edition; this time we got hold of the updated Edwardian edition of his work. Equally indispensible is The Agrarian History of England and Wales 1850-1914 Vols 1 and 2. We also used the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries Leaflets from the period - we got bound collected volumes of #1-100, #101-200 and #201-300 - which proved a rich source of helpful information and practical guidance.
    in answer to asteriods, the reason our narrator pronounces the location as "Morwellam" rather than "More-Well-Ham" is this: People who live in the vicinity of Morwellham call it "More-well-HAM" to distinguish it from other Morwell-prefixed places such as Morwell Barton and Morwell Rocks. But we were advised by locals to call it More-WELL-am as that’s how it's pronounced in the wider Devon - and beyond.

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    Comment number 25.

    Please can you tell me the quantities used in the chicken winter feed mixture ?
    Thanks

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    Comment number 26.

    Congratulations to Ruth, Alex and Peter for again presenting such a fascinating insight into life as it was in the Edwardian times.
    Their enthusiasm and dedication to learning how things were in those times and then giving us all this information in a most entertaining manner makes for compelling viewing.
    Please can we have more programmes presented by them and I for one would love to see a new series on The Victorian Farm, possibly covering other areas of life as it was then that didn't appear in the first series.

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    Comment number 27.

    Please could you let me know the ingredients of the Chicken Winter mix as I can't remember them all, i know there was greens & Shell/grit, oats just can't remember the rest. Would appreciate your help as I have a small holding and would like to try this. Thanks

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    Comment number 28.

    A question - in episode 2 of Edwardian Farm Ruth pickles apples in a post 1946 Kilner jar (no moan about the age of the jar as the pre war ones were devils to seal). Please please tell me where you got the red rubber seals for the jar as I have being trying to get replacements for ages without luck- all mine have turned to goo.

    Wonderful series as were all the previous ones

    Peter2006

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    Comment number 29.

    Brilliant series - I LOVE it!

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    Comment number 30.

    where do you get your caps from ?.
    great series !

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    Comment number 31.

    Very much enjoy the programmes. Seeing the early tractor reminded me of a conversation recently with a french farmer whose father worked with plough oxen. He told me how his grandfather told of the times when one man working in a field would strike up a song which would be picked up by a neighbour in an adjoining field and the singing would spread down through the valley with all joining in...then the tractors came and it all changed, too noisy for singing. Would have loved to hear it.

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    Comment number 32.

    For peter2006 #28: the rubber seals for the Kilner jars were from Ruth's own collection, so thankfully we were spared the ordeal of sourcing them.
    For luvachicken #25 and tamsinbrn #27, the exact ingredients of the chicken feed were as follows: Wheat (cracked) 3 parts, Dari 2 parts, Canary seed 2 parts, Oatmeal 2 parts, Millet 2 parts, Broken maize 1 part, Hempseed and buckwheat each ½ part, Rice 1 part, Meat (granulated) 1 part, Grit 1 part.

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    Comment number 33.

    To Pottypainter - in answer to your question of 16 November - the two black shire horses currently in residence at Morwellham are called Tom and Prince (Prince is the one with the white face). The bay heavy horse used to spread the quicklime was Jack, who is a Clydesdale. Happy painting!

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    Comment number 34.

    Hi Everyone,
    Thankyou for all your comments and queries. I am not a naturall blogger, but will do my best.

    I really think it is great that people mind about the details. Nothing in life is perfect, but we really do try - that after all is the whole point.

    First the query about clothes.
    As everything started up in a great hurry clothes were made by a variety of different people. Jinny and Jane both usually make for the re enactment market, whilst Valerie used to work for Morewellham and Betty used to volunteer her knitting services.
    My own clothes however were from a slightly different source. I have a strong interest in clothing history and wanted to be closely involved in what I was wearing. I researched, designed and cut all my own clothes, although with time so short I got a friend - Julie - to do most of the actual sewing.
    The real challenge was to make clothes worn in that part of the country - not London fashions - by people of that social standing and income level. My red felt hat came from photographs of people in and around Tavistock and seems to have been a style of very limited reach - it doesnt appear in photographs from outside about a twenty mile radius.

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    Comment number 35.

    Rag rugs - mea culpa. I meant to use a button hook, rather than the more modern rug hook. Sorry about that.
    Enjoyed making the rug though.
    Ruth

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    Comment number 36.

    gardenfarming sue - None of the goats got mastitus, they all went home after their stay on the farm happy and healthy. I am sorry that you were worried about them. I have had mastitus myself years ago when I was feeding and it is no laughing matter.
    Best wishes to you and your goats
    Ruth

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    Comment number 37.

    Our life on an old Welsh farm is closer in many ways to the Edwardian farm than 2010.
    Two questions: where did you source the men's wool working clothes? (Impossible to find wool work clothes for men on the high street now.)
    Secondly, much more information on Ruth's restoration of the privy would be welcome. Did they put lime into the bucket after each use, or earth or sawdust? No separation of liquid and solid matter? We have been looking at modern composting ideas to put our privy back into use and have wondered, after all we have read, whether the reason we have a double seater is not for companionableness or one smaller hole for children, but because the solid matter was composted and the liquid left to drain away. Our privy is a long way away from our pigsties. In fact, it's situated in the old vegetable garden.

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    Comment number 38.

    @Honoramorton - as a keen gardener I think I can answer this one - liquid waste would probably have been mixed with water and used as a liquid fertiliser, solid waste also known as "night soil" would have been buried in a technique known as "double digging" the veg plot.

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    Comment number 39.

    The filming in this series has been a delight - the most evocative for me was the filming of the cider press - the golden back light of the sunshine into the apple juice made me long to be there. The cooper and the blacksmith were also very good. The shots of shire horses entering the field on a frosty morning, the hedge layers at work - all magical stuff. Great job all round - it has set me off on a few enterprises and concerns.

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    Comment number 40.

    I may not be looking hard but I can never find any sloes to pick. Will have to read up on them more to find where to pick them. Really enjoyed the series and have even started making my own proggy mat!!

 

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