27 June 2013

Edwardian Farm (BBC Full Series)

Edwardian Farm is an historical documentary TV series in twelve parts, first shown on BBC Two from November 2010 to January 2011. It depicts a group of historians trying to run a farm like it was done during the Edwardian era (1900-1914). The farming team was historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn. IMDb Rating: 8,9.

Episode 1

The trio establish their domicile, scrubbing flagstone floor and cleaning out a clogged chimney. They put up hay, hire a stonemason to make a trough, learn to thatch, make rag rugs, begin keeping chickens and sheep. Ruth cooks a sheep's head stew.

Episode 2

Alex and Peter milk goats and train the plowhorses. They begin a market garden of strawberries. Ruth pickles apples, salts a ham, and smokes bacon. Alex and Peter press apples to cider (skrumpy), freighting first the apples, then the barrel on the river. They visit a cooper and make lime putty. They read government agricultural leaflets, collect eggs, make chicken stew, and celebrate Halloween Edwardian style.

Episode 3

Ruth prepares for the arrival of the farm's pigs and works on the privie, while Alex and Peter compare ploughing with horses to ploughing with the world's oldest working tractor. Peter begins a trout hatchery. In order to repair the hedgerows, Alex takes a trip to a water-powered blacksmithery for a billhook. Ruth makes sloe gin for Christmas and entertains with a grammophone.

Episode 4

As winter sets in, the three farm dwellers must look further afield to earn a crust. Peter and Alex fish for crabs while Ruth hires herself out for domestic work. Ruth rides a bicycle and tries period cleaning techniques, including early vacuums. They separate growing calves from their mothers. Alex finds out how leather is made. They celebrate Christmas modesty, as poor farmers might have, and listen to a Methodist Christmas message.

Episode 5

The continuing winter forces Alex and Peter down a tin mine, while Ruth makes lace. The tin mine is the King Edward Mine, Camborne, Cornwall, and the lace-making is at Honiton.

Episode 6

Six months into their year, Ruth, Alex and Peter explore the daily lives of the Edwardian Farmers. This episode has a slightly different format to the rest of the series; instead of covering a whole month's changes, it is subtitled A Day in the Life and uses a framing device of Ruth writing a letter describing the more mundane aspects of daily life on the farm.

Episode 7

Spring arrives with the lambs and the potato crop planted with manure. Daffodils are harvested and sent by train across the country.

Episode 8

April arrives and time is divided between the land and the sea.

Episode 9

Summer brings the tourists, so the farm provides strawberries and clotted cream.

Episode 10

June arrives so the sheep go up onto the moors of Dartmoor with Alex and Peter guiding, leaving Ruth to run the farm, mixing and spraying "Bordeaux" on the potato crop. Alex and Peter try their hands at sheep-shearing and dry-stone walling, and observe sheep-dogs at work. Ruth makes her own cheese and visits an early wool mill. Finally, they have an Edwardian picnic with a vintage auto and then go rambling and letterboxing on the moor.

Episode 11

July brings the harvest, cherries and potatoes. Ruth goes salmon fishing on the River Tamar with a seine net. Peter and Alex pick cherries from tall ladders and Ruth prepares cherry preserves. They try out Edwardian potato digging devices and employ child labor. The annual day holiday at Lynmouth is a welcome distraction.

Episode 12

August brings to an end the year on the farm, weather dictates the harvest and the seaside brings much needed fertilizer.

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