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January 24, 2021

the wartime farm s01.

Series Repack (Originally posted Sep 2012)

Historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn are back, this time facing up to the challenges of the biggest revolution ever seen in the history of the British countryside as they turn Manor Farm back to how it was run in the Second World War. When Britain entered the war, two-thirds of all Britain's food was imported - and now it was under threat from a Nazi blockade. To save Britain from starvation, the nation's farmers were tasked with doubling food production in what Churchill called 'the frontline of freedom'. This meant ploughing up 6.5 million acres of unused land - a combined area bigger than the whole of Wales.

wartime farm e01.avi

Ep01 - In this first episode, the farmers find themselves in a new location, a new time period and with a new team member. There is a new farmhouse to modernise, strict new rules to abide by and air raid precautions to contend with. The team begin by reclaiming badlands to grow new crops. Peter works with a blacksmith to design a special 'mole plough' to help drain the waterlogged clay fields. Ruth and Alex get to grips with a troublesome wartime tractor - and must plough through the night to get the wheat crop sown in time.

Ep02 - 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 World War 2, when farmers were tasked with doubling domestic food production due to the Nazi blockade. The team tackle the conditions faced by British farmers in 1940, when the full impact of rationing took hold and which also saw Britain face the onslaught of Nazi bombing in the Blitz. Ruth finds out how about the impact rationing had in the kitchen as food became strictly limited - and also explores the temptations of the black market. Alex and Peter are confronted with vastly reduced supplies of feed for the animals, so attempt a method encouraged by the government: making "silage". This involves not only finding alternatives sources of feed to store for winter, but also creating a container to store them in. And for this they find out how the Women's Land Army could be of help.

Ep03 - The team tackle the conditions faced by British farmers in late 1940, as the heavy bombing of the Blitz ravaged Britain's cities and drove millions to seek refuge in the countryside. Alex and Peter work in the freezing cold to turn inhabitable outbuildings into refugee shelters, aided by a 94-year-old conscientious objecter who was conscripted as a labourer during the war due to his religious beliefs. They also learn how to set up 'decoy fires' to distract German bombers, whilst Ruth gets involved with the Royal Observer Corps. Finally, with December approaching, the team looks forward to celebrating Christmas - albeit Christmas under rationing, which features the central dish of 'mock turkey'.

Ep04 - The team discovers that farmers during the War could lose everything if they didn't meet government standards for productivity. Over 2,000 farmers deemed 'not good enough' were thrown off their farms during the war. Ruth, Peter and Alex face a WW2-style government inspection, meeting an expert who tells them to grow and to get their milking operation up and running. In the process they confront the wave of mechanisation that government regulation brought to wartime farming, whilst Peter also launches a rabbit-breeding program using the latest advice from the Ministry of Information. The team also discovers the chilling story of a dramatic shoot-out between an evicted farmer and the authorities, before receiving their final grade.

Wartime Farm e04 1

Ep05 - The team tackles the conditions of 1942, when British farmers and the nation as a whole suffered from the massive shortages of vital materials such as wood, fuel and food due to the threat of Hitler's U-boats to imports. Ruth and her daughter Eve travel to the New Forest to discover the story of the Women's Timber Corps, known affectionately as the 'Lumber Jills'. Meanwhile, Peter and Alex face up to the wartime petrol crisis and investigate how coal was so vital, men were actually conscripted into the mining workforce rather than the armed forces.

Ep06 - The team tackles the conditions faced by British farmers in 1943, when food imports slumped to their lowest level during the war. The government feared a crisis and Britain's farmers were challenged with somehow increasing food production yet again. There were renewed shortages of animal feed so Alex and Peter use some clever 1940s technology to produce a hay crop from grass in the church yard. Ruth enlists some children to help collect herbs that were needed to make medicines during the war and discovers the methods women used to look good despite the restrictions of rationing. While Peter is getting to grips with a vintage hay baling machine, Ruth and Alex attend a party at the village hall where they experience a new dance phenomenon brought to Britain by African-American GIs, the jive.

Ep07 - The team face the farming conditions of 1944 when Britain had been at war for five years and millions of troops packed into the fields of southern England as the Allies prepared for the D-Day landings. Farmers did their bit by growing vast amounts of flax but the wettest summer for a century has devastated the crop at the farm, and Alex and Peter must take drastic action to save it. Ruth revives the traditional craft of basket making to create a pigeon transporter while Alex and Peter head out into the English Channel to find out how racing pigeons were trained to carry intelligence to and from occupied France. As D-Day drew closer, foreign troops formed close bonds with the locals, drinking together and playing games, such as the baseball game Americans played at the farm in 1944, which the team recreates.

Ep08 - Even as the conflict drew to a close, the need for home-grown food became greater than ever. With Britain sharing the responsibility for feeding populations across war-torn Europe while struggling to afford imports, and American aid no longer available, rationing lasted well into the 1950s. As a fitting send off, the team celebrate the harvest with a 'Holiday at Home' - inspired by a government scheme to encourage exhausted workers to make the most of time off without travelling anywhere. Alex has a surprise up his sleeve to make the party go with a bang.

Wartime Farm e08

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