A few weeks ago I heard Jack from TSP mention a BBC show called Wartime Farm. The premise of the show is:
“Historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn turn the clock back to run Manor Farm in Hampshire exactly as it would have been during the Second World War”
They have to live period accurate for a year. Having to deal with the technology of the time. They show recopies, culture and farming tools/methods popular during the War years. I loved this series but what Jack didn’t mention was this is not a single show but an entire series. So far they have made: The Victorian Farm, The Edwardian Farm and Wartime farm. With an hour long Victorian Christmas special as well. Let me share some things learned from the series.
Hearing snippets about this show peaked my interest. Firstly I love British TV (GO DOCTOR WHO!) and documentary’s. I was hooked before I even started watching. I found this channel on YouTube you can watch all of them at. I had to search that one because it looks like all the videos on the channel I was watching were taken down. I can only assume that this one will be taken down as well. I tried to find a link to buy it but could only find regions that won’t play in the US.
The presenters, Ruth Goodman is a social and domestic historian shows the female side to these stories. She does the cooking, cleaning and other duties performed by women of the time. Alex one of the two historians, who grew up around farming communities and rural life, is in charge of the farming and live stock on the farm. Peter Ginn is a trained archaeologist and historian who studied with fellow presenter Alex Langlands at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Peter is in charge of the fixing and building on the farm. I love how in the series they all toughen up. In the Victorian Farm they complain, a lot. It’s cold all the time, the work is back breaking. Through all the hard work and sometimes disgusting food (think pig eyes) they keep you laughing and informed. By the time you get to Wartime Farm they are all experienced farmers.
To me this is one of the most interesting parts of the show. I love cooking and stoves. The stoves were big parts of the show. In Victorian and Edwardian Ruth used coal stoves. In Wartime she tried to get her hands on an electric range, which were becoming popular during the time. However she ended up with a Paraffin (kerosene) stove. This interested me greatly. Being as I live in an apartment at the moment I’m always looking for a off grid replacement that won’t fill up the apartment with smoke. Her stove was designed to look like a traditional coal stove but was made from sheet steel and painted. Underneath the stove was adjustable wicked paraffin burners. This got me thinking and I want to try to build one and see if it will work with alcohol. The one she had was made by a company called Rippingilles. The Victorian Farm was filled with tons of info on preserving foods. Ruth made traditional chutneys, cheese and canning with pottery jars. She used pig blatters to cover the jars. In Wartime she made a salt cured ham and BACON! The smoker that Peter made looked incredibly simple with an empty barrel with a wooden dowel to hang the meat on and bricks below as a smoke chimney. Brilliant! Making bacon will be on my agenda. In all the series’ booze is made. Cider a few times, Beer, Ginger beer, Sloe Gin and Moonshine.
This show was very pro tilling. I tend to be not a fan but it works. In Victorian and Edwardian they used mostly horses. With Diesel coming in at the end of Edwardian and Wartime. They show that invention of and popularization of chemical fertilizers over manure. Mostly you see them learn how to farm. How to deal with problems that come up. The “cutting edge” technologies that make life easier. You get to see what crops became popular at different times. How the government forces farmers to kill livestock to grow more wheat during the war. I liked seeing the transition to more and more complicated machinery. The main guide they had in their learning to farm was a book call The Book of the Farm by Henry Stephens. This book looks like it has everything you would need to know to run a farm using ancient methods and “new” methods. I will be picking up a copy to add to my prepper bookshelf.
One of the things I really loved about the series was them bringing in experts in various fields. In Wartime they brought in many survivors of WWII who experienced first hand what they were re-creating. Learning from someone with years of experience to me is the quickest method to learn. They can show you what has worked for them for years. I imagine trying to plow a field with a horse with only book knowledge would go terribly wrong. One of my favorite guest was the guy on ancient lore. Learning about some of the old folklore and superstitions was hilarious.
This series has more information packed into than I can hope to fit into one article. It has given me a ton of ideas and inspirations. It has also sucked up all my time. I was enthralled by it all weekend. I watched this when I should have been doing other things. If the youtube link is still working go check it out. This is one show you will not be disappointed in. I can not recommend this enough.
Have you seen some or all this series? What did you like most? What did you learn? Let me know in the comments!
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