Wartime Farm (2012) s01e02 Episode Script

Episode 2

1 'The Great British countryside.
'Setting for one of the most pivotal battles of the Second World War.
'Churchill called it "the frontline of freedom".
'It was a battle fought by the farmers of Britain.
'When war broke out, two-thirds of all Britain's food was imported.
'Now, it fell under threat from a Nazi blockade.
'The government turned to farmers to double home-grown food production.
'If they failed, Britain could be starved into surrender.
' The war started on day one for farmers.
They were told, "You have to turn this land "into a food-producing nation again.
" 'Now, historian Ruth Goodman 'and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn 'are turning the clock back to the 1940s.
'Over the next year, they'll work Manor Farm in Hampshire 'as it would have been during the Second World War.
'This time, they face the conditions of 1940, 'when Nazi bombers brought death and destruction to Britain.
'The team must deal with rationing' That, in total, is your fat ration.
That's particularly hard to make last the week.
make use of every last resource' This was an experiment.
I can see why people hadn't picked it before.
and confront temptation round every corner' You're well on your way to becoming a black marketeer.
as the race begins to beat the shortages, 'on the wartime farm.
' BIKE BELL 'In 1940, German bombers were targeting Britain's docks '.
destroying food imports by sea and by air.
'Britain's farmers were ordered to plough up an extra two million acres of land.
'But with so many fields growing food for people, 'there weren't enough to grow food for animals as well.
' Oooh.
- Nearly! - Cows are getting hungry.
Hallelujah! If you hit the lever and get these belts running.
'Alex and Peter are preparing feed for their livestock.
'It was cereals like this that were now in short supply.
' Peter's milling up a barley meal.
It's a classic feed for anything from pigs to cows.
But of course, barley could be used to make beer, could be used to feed human beings.
So it was considered a waste, really, to feed it to livestock.
If we were to turn that into flour, make some bread, - you could feed a lot more people than you could animals.
- Yeah.
'This competition for land was debated at the highest levels of government.
'The Ministry of Agriculture had been granted emergency powers to control farming.
'They now told farmers the time had come to make a difficult decision.
' - This is a map of Manor Farm, is it? - Yeah.
This is Manor Farm.
The Ministry of Agriculture are breathing down our necks, asking us to grow more food for human consumption.
Essentially, looking at this map, there's not a lot of room on our farm for growing wheat.
- You can't see the map for animals.
- Exactly.
'Wartime planners knew they could feed more people with a field of wheat than a herd of cattle, 'and encouraged farmers to drastically cut livestock numbers.
' You've got to make a call on what can stay and what can go.
If we're going to keep anything, it ought to be the dairy herd.
The ministry is saying that the priority should be milk production.
Then all the other livestock only comes after that.
In which case, we've got to lose the beef herd.
These have all got to come out.
If we're ploughing up the grassland, we're not going to have it to feed the sheep.
I think they're going to have to go.
Basically, pigs eat the same food as people.
They're in direct competition, so I think they ought to go.
- We've got a few chickens and a dairy herd.
- That's all that's left.
'Millions of livestock were slaugheterd in the wartime cull.
'They weren't the only ones affected.
' It begs the question, with no sheep on the farm ALEX GASPS .
what happens to little Henry dog? We're thinking, "Are we going to eat enough? Are people going to be starving?" You look at that thing in the corner and think, - "You're eating food that I could be eating.
" - It's a tough one.
Imagine being in this situation.
You've got the faithful sheepdog.
Probably grown up with it.
Many people felt it was a kindness to put them down, rather than pets starving to death.
We just can't get rid of Henry.
Cos we'll have lost our most intelligent member of the team! Got to keep the guy! It would be a little bit too much.
He'll be useful.
We'll need him.
But we still have to try and find a way to keep a dairy herd going throughout the winter months.
Come on, cows.
'The Ministry of Agriculture wanted dairy farmers to feed their cows on a foodstuff packed with protein - 'silage.
'Silage is made by starving freshly cut grass of oxygen, 'preserving its nutrients for feeding over winter.
'With so many fields being ploughed, grass wasn't always available.
'So the boys must find an alternative.
' - Where is it we're going? - We're going to a farm that grows sugar-beet.
- Sugar-beet.
- So get yourself comfy.
It's a bit of a drive.
And I haven't quite mastered the gearbox on this old boy.
GEARS CRUNCH So, we're going to pick up sugar-beet, yeah? No, not actually sugar-beet itself.
We're going to pick up sugar-beet tops.
You're going to have to swot up.
Leaflet number four from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries tells us all about sugar-beet tops and making silage.
"Sugar-beet tops are equivalent in feeding value to the same weight of swedes.
" Wow! "In normal weather, they may remain fit to feed for several weeks.
" But "If the supply of tops is too great to feed fresh, "the surplus should be ensiled for later use.
" That's the idea, Peter.
If we make a silage clamp or some kind of drum to get the silage in, we can use that feed all the way through the winter.
How many sugar-beet tops will fit in this car? I don't know.
I'm sure we'll - The glovebox is quite roomy.
- .
get a handful! 'Sugar-beet was a vital wartime crop 'grown to take the place of sugar imports.
'But vast acres of sugar-beet created an urgent need for machines to harvest it.
'Farmers were required to master some ingenious new contraptions.
' - Morning, chaps.
- Good morning.
- Good morning, sir.
'Alex and Peter have come to meet the men of the Peterborough Farm Machinery Preservation Society, 'who are trying out one of the earliest of these harvesters, 'which was made in Denmark in the 1940s.
' What are you doing here? We're doing a bit of a modification to try to improve the performance of the machine.
So we've caught you at a point of experimentation, have we? You have.
This is almost certainly a scene you would have seen in 1939, 1940.
With the outbreak of war and the introduction of this technology, farmers are confronted with this innovative equipment which they've got to tweak and tinker with to get to work.
That's exactly what these guys are doing.
Basically, a lot of fiddling with nuts and bolts.
'The machine does two different jobs.
'One part lifts the beets out of the ground 'and the other cuts the tops off.
' - You've got to steer this? - That's what worried me about that disc.
- If it don't steer me.
- LAUGHTER You've got a bit of extra muscle here, Ron, in case you need it.
- I think we're ready to go, then? - Yes.
I'm sure we're ready.
If the tractor driver's ready.
Whoa! - That's an early sign, Ron, that this thing could go - Yes.
- OK.
- Didn't go far, did it? - No.
- It's getting a rhythm going - Whoa, whoa! - Spoke too soon.
- Uh-oh.
Why did it miss there? - Right, third time lucky.
- Try it again? Ooh! Whoa! So, what are they going to Ooh! What are they going to do? Your guess is as good as mine.
'While the boys focus on making food for the dairy cows, 'back on the farm, there are other animals that won't be so lucky.
'Pigs were seen as a luxury, and bore the brunt of the wartime cull.
'Their numbers fell by nearly 60% over the course of the war, 'and pork became a much sought-after rarity.
' - PIG GRUNTS - Yeah.
'But there was one way around the shortage.
'Ruth's come to talk to stockwoman Debbie Underwood 'about a possible solution.
' - I was wondering if we could hang on to one as the pig club.
- What do you mean by pig club? It was a wartime scheme to get together and raise a pig communally.
People bring all their kitchen waste and their garden waste.
When you slaughter the pig, you divide it up between everybody who's fed it.
It was a way of keeping some bacon and pork in the system.
'Pig clubs were officially encouraged by the government 'and were popular, not just in the countryside, but in cities, too.
'Around 7,000 were set up 'raising 140,000 pigs between them.
' How are we going to choose one? - It's quite a nice even litter, isn't it? - Yes, it is.
- They're good-looking piglets.
- They are, yes.
Maybe if I find some people who'd like to be in the pig club, then get together and cook up a batch of swill, feed it to those and see which one's greediest.
Whichever one's the greediest is going to be the one that fattens quickest.
Lift it out.
Get it out there.
'The machine is still causing problems with the beet harvest.
'If they can't get it going, they'll have to lift the crop by hand.
' That's how it should be.
'Ron Knight harvested sugar-beet as a boy 'and remembers how it was done.
' They lay them out in rows like that.
Then go along and chop them up.
And that knife has been replaced by that machine.
You have a go chopping that and see how you get on.
Mind your thumb.
You don't get another one.
Aim where I've marked it.
Aim where you've marked it.
- There you are.
- That was quite an excessive chop there.
You're only an inch out, look! 'To harvest this field by hand would take about a month.
'The machine should get it done in two days - 'if they can get it working.
' I think we're getting clogged up with the leaves it's cutting off the top of the beets.
That we should be taking away for silage.
I reckon, we need to shovel them out of the way of the machine.
Looks like there's going to be some work for us here, Peter.
'The tops pulled out of the way, the machine is able to run smoothly.
' Those two forks get underneath the beet.
They lift it up.
As it goes round, the drum knocks all the dirt off, then kicks it up into a bucket on the other side.
When that's full, Willy opens it and it dumps the load onto the ground.
And this is what it's all about.
Here are our sugar-beet.
They're a rather unsightly looking turnip.
But six of these boiled down would make about a kilo of sugar.
It's amazing to think that during the war, these were responsible for producing the domestic sugar ration.
That's nearly three million tons of sugar.
'Sugar-beet was the ultimate wartime crop.
'It was transformed from being a niche product grown by a few farmers 'to being a mainstream crop, farmed all over the country.
' - Hello! - Hello! - Hey, you've brought the swill! - Yeah.
'Ruth's got some recruits for her pig club.
' Let's fatten that pig up.
Oh, fantastic! - So, what we got? - Beetroot thinnings, ones that haven't fattened out.
Tops of old cabbage plants.
Old potatoes that are no longer suitable for our use.
Slop it all in.
I've got some on the go already, boiling away.
'The scraps will be turned into a soupy swill.
' All good stuff.
'The swill was often collected by one designated person, 'as pig club member Jill Dicks recalls.
' - I like to think, Jill, that your parents were in a pig club during the war.
- That's right.
It was operated by our butcher.
- What was in the pig swill? - Everything that wasn't eaten.
We didn't separate any of it out.
If it was food, it wasn't eaten, it went straight to the pig.
They did also use to take the bones as well.
Nowadays, people would have kittens about that.
They'd be worried about contaminating the food chain.
'Feeding pigs with animal by-products 'was linked to an increase in foot and mouth disease during the war.
'To avoid the hazards, Ruth's pig will only be fed 'with waste from the garden, not the kitchen.
' Are you going to be able to keep up the supply of swill? We will try.
It's towards the end of the year.
It's always more difficult during the autumn.
- If we can keep it up, six months down the line, half a pig between us.
- That sounds nice.
'The beets will be sent to a factory to be refined into sugar.
'Alex and Peter are collecting the tops, 'which they plan to turn into silage.
' - How are you feeling about this, Peter? - Well, I can see why Obviously, they want to produce as much silage as possible to keep the animals going.
But this was an experiment.
I can see why people hadn't picked it as a silage crop before.
This is going to be the key to keeping a dairy herd in a wartime farm, isn't it? This will provide the succulence, providing we get the silo right.
Providing we get the silo right.
I've got that first bucket of swill.
- Ah, let's have a look.
- I hope they're hungry.
Funnily enough, it smells delicious.
- Yeah.
- Let's see if they're hungry.
- Let's give this a go.
Come on! Show us who's a big greedy pig! What do you think? She's turned her nose up! Which is quite easy for her.
RUTH LAUGHS - This is going well(!) - This is going really well(!) 'Ruth's plan is to choose the greediest pig for her pig club.
' Come on, then.
Little bit closer.
- They're quite intrigued by this.
- They are, aren't they? - They're interested.
Not actually eating it yet.
- Ooh.
Yes, they are.
- Especially her with the little short tail.
- Yes.
- Little shorty.
That's a little female.
That might be a nice one to keep.
Let's have a look at her.
Grab her.
PIGLET SQUEALS RUTH LAUGHS Well, she's certainly noisy.
- Listen to you! - This is the one with the short tail.
- She's good, isn't she? - Look at that fat belly on her! Yeah, I think so.
I think this is the one for us.
'Ruth will keep Shorty and Snowflake but the other pigs have to go.
' Yeah.
I know you're cute.
Yes, you are.
One piggy to another.
'Alex and Peter are back at the farm.
'They'll let the sugar-beet tops wilt for a few days 'before turning them into silage for the dairy cows.
' Get on! Get on! 'First, they must deal with the animals they don't want to keep.
'Sheep were considered a low-priority, 'as they needed to eat a lot of food to produce relatively little meat.
'All wartime farmers getting rid of livestock 'had to deal with a new force that would come to dominate their lives - 'the Ministry of Food.
' The idea of the ministry was to control all the produce from farms.
Pretty much anything produced would have to go through the Ministry of Food.
'The arrival of the Ministry of Food meant farmers were answerable 'to two government bodies.
' On this side of the farm gate, they had the Ministry of Agriculture.
Anything on the farm was the concern of the Ministry of Agriculture.
But this side of the gate was all about the Ministry of Food.
When the livestock passed over this threshold, it became the concern of the Ministry of Food.
'The Ministry of Food was responsible for the biggest 'food distribution network attempted anywhere in the world - 'the rationing system.
' I've got here the ration for one person for one week in 1940.
Of course, not everything was rationed.
You could have as much bread as you could afford, as much vegetables as you could get your hands on.
But a whole range of things were rationed.
'Rationing began in January 1940, 'with bacon the first meat to go on the list.
'Four ounces per person per week.
' You could have it as ham instead, but not as well as.
It amounts to about four slices.
Butter, however, is even more scarce.
Imagine trying to manage on that much butter a week.
You were allowed other fats.
This is for cooking fat.
And that, in total, is your fat ration.
That's particularly hard to make last the week.
'Joining the first wave of rationing was sugar, 'around 12 ounces per week.
' So, these foods were rationed in January.
By March, fresh meat had joined the ration.
Unlike these, which are based on weight, meat rationing was done upon value, how much money you were allowed to spend.
If, in 1940, you bought a really good piece of meat, this is how far your one shilling and tenpence took you.
So, that would be a week's meat.
Not bad, but you'd only eat meat, say, two days a week.
You could be a bit more canny.
If I bought something like a shin of beef, which you can see immediately is a less quality cut, I could have an awful lot more.
That is one pound of shin of beef.
I could have had three times that amount for the same rationed money that I had for that cut of beef.
And alongside it offal.
I've got here kidney and liver.
This amount of offal cost the same as that little bit of beef.
To a modern eye, you might think, "That's not so bad.
"That's not so very little meat.
" And it's true.
But this is the peak of meat eating during the war.
You were allowed all of that.
As the war went on, the amount of ration for meat reduced and reduced and reduced and reduced.
Within a year and a half, it was half that size.
Suddenly, your ration was one of those a week.
'The Ministry of Food made huge efforts to get people to accept the ration system.
' People talked a great deal about "fair shares", about "fairness".
At this time of scarcity, the whole of the rationing system was presented to the population as about being about "fairness".
Everybody had ration cards, including the royal family.
That was important to people.
It made people feel differently about the system.
'But though the scheme was based on fairness, 'those in the countryside had certain advantages.
'The ancient tradition of the hedgerow harvest came into its own, 'as people went out to forage for whatever they could find.
' Henry, you were supposed to be spotting these! 'Even in the depths of autumn, 'nature's bounty could be pressed into use.
' There's no doubt, townies came off a lot worse during the war.
In the countryside, you've got so many more resources at your fingertips.
Whether it's finding your mushrooms or acorns on the floor or horse chestnuts, sweet chestnuts or blackberries or whatever.
There's just so much more food about in the countryside.
There's loads of food, really, when you start looking.
'Alex and Peter are getting on with the job of deciding which farm animals to cull.
' - Ah! - We've got too many, haven't we? - There's definitely too many.
Unfortunately, the writing's on the wall for some of these old birds 'A chicken lays most of its eggs in the first three years of its life.
'After that, its productivity declines.
' - I reckon that one there.
- If I grab her feet, she's going to flap.
If you grab both feet together, she will flap, but she'll be safe.
CLUCKING That's the one! Straight down.
Wrap her up.
Perfectly done.
Quite a red wattle and comb.
This is a classic sign of an older bird, very deep red.
And if you look at those feet Look at the Ooh! Got a bit of fight in her, hasn't she? She's got calluses on the bottom.
Quite large calluses.
You can tell she's an old bird.
So, that's a natural bird to cull.
Come on, then, boy.
I'm sure there'll be something in here for you.
'It wasn't just wild food that added to rural diets.
'Having more land meant country people were more likely 'to reap the benefit of the Dig For Victory campaign.
' - Terry, you're already here.
- Hello, Ruth.
'Manor Farm gardener, Terry Budd, will help Ruth decide what to plant in the garden.
' We've got this leaflet from the Ministry of Agriculture, encouraging us to grow some of our own veg.
"Savoys, sprouts, kales Vegetables all the year round "if you dig well and crop wisely.
" 'The Dig For Victory leaflets were written to help gardeners get fresh produce every month of the year.
'They were widely distributed, or you could write and request one.
' That's a nice sensible plan.
There's nothing fancy about it.
There's nothing exotic.
This is your basics through the year.
'There are already some vegetables to harvest in the garden.
'Ruth's making them go as far as she can.
' I'm making a giant, great big, enormous stew.
Huge, several meals worth.
Anything that isn't eaten as stew will be turned into soup later.
Yum! I do like mushrooms.
'Ruth's stove is powered by paraffin, 'but along with other types of fuel, paraffin was rationed, 'so cooking the stew for several hours would be a waste.
'There was a popular wartime solution that Ruth's keen to try.
' This is me cunning plan! I'm going to make a hay box.
It's a funny thing, a hay box.
There's no heat source.
It's sort ofjust insulation.
But it does the job that you might think of, say, a slow cooker.
So, hay.
I'm making a really thick layer, not just on the bottom of the box, but up the sides of the box, and eventually in the lid as well.
It's all about keeping the heat in.
The stew that I've got on, when it's really thoroughly boiling, and it does have to be thoroughly boiling, I can transfer it from there straight into here.
It's very fuel efficient.
I'm only doing the cooking for that initial boiling stage.
Snuggle it down in there.
And then on with the lid.
Seal it all up and you've kept the heat in.
The heat can't escape so the heat stays there, carrying on cooking slowly and gently.
That should do.
Right, cooker off.
BLOWS 'The perks of living in the countryside didn't go unnoticed by outsiders.
'Strangers frequently turned up at farm gates, 'looking for ways to beat the rationing system.
'Mark Roodhouse is a historian who specialises in the wartime black market.
' Hello.
- Oh, hello! You must be Mark.
- Ruth.
- Sorry, muddy hands.
- Nice to meet you.
- You're the chap who knows all the dodgy dealings.
Where would you like to start? 'Secluded rural locations made the perfect base for black market activities.
' Underneath here .
we have various things for our black market experiment.
Here, we've got red petrol.
This would have been used by the army.
Dyed red by the armed forces to stop people stealing petrol, which was rationed and in short supply.
The police would take a sample from your tank and if it was red they would know that you had stolen the petrol and they could prosecute.
What we're going to do is take the dye out of this petrol, so that we can put it in the tank of a car, without risk of being caught.
There are lots of anecdotes about how people could get hold of this dyed petrol and remove the dye.
So I thought that we could have a go and see which of these proves the most effective.
- Have you done this before? - No.
I don't think anyone has tried this kind of experiment since the 1940s.
'The first method to be tried is mixing it with aspirin.
' KNOCKING That's supposed to separate out the petrol from the dye.
- That do it? - Yeah.
Should do it.
- Was there much of this going on? There is a surprising amount of fiddling about with petrol, particularly on farms.
Billy Hill, who was one of the big London criminals of the '40s, he had a run-in on a farm in Hertfordshire, which he used for storing stolen goods.
He also used it as a base for operations such as this one.
Maybe I got the wrong brand! Maybe it needs a bit of time.
'While they wait to see if the aspirin works, 'Ruth and Mark try filtering some petrol through charcoal.
' Go on.
You do the honours.
You're the one who's been reading about this stuff.
I think we're getting something, but pour slower.
It's definitely better than the aspirin, but it's a bit pink.
'Lastly, they'll try sieving it through bread.
' This seemed the least likely one.
- It seemed such a waste of - Good bread.
- Waste of bread.
- That's holding a lot of petrol.
- Ah! It's coming through.
- So it is.
- That looks clear to me.
- It flipping does! I can't believe that's worked! BOTH LAUGH - That is just amazing! - I'll have to eat my words.
I never thought that would work and it does! In some ways, it's the cheapest and easiest of all the methods.
Yeah, if you've got the bread to waste.
Bread, of course, wasn't rationed.
'With the dye removed, the petrol could be sold on the black market.
' If you have this, you have your loaf of bread, you're well on your way to becoming a black marketeer.
And pestering farmers, trying to get them into your dodgy dealing ways.
- Absolutely.
- You wicked man, you! - BOTH LAUGH 'Anyone involved in making or selling food 'had opportunities to make a bit on the side.
'Butchers could be notorious black market operators.
' Hello.
- Looks tasty! - Me? LAUGHTER 'Mark has brought Ruth to meet local butcher Simon Broadrib.
' The Ministry of Food has worked out, speaking to various butchers, what they should be able to get off a carcass, allowing for a bit of wastage.
But a skilled butcher like Simon can make more joints off that carcass than the ministry allows for.
It's keeping the trimming to a minimum.
Nice and lean.
'Under the ration system, 'consumers had to register with a particular butcher.
'So shopping around was not an option.
'Many butchers felt a temptation to sell off parts of the animal 'that would have gone to waste.
' Let me show you the difference between a wartime chop - big long bone, all untrimmed - to what the customer wants now.
This lovely lamb cutlet, nice and meaty, not too much bone, hardly any fat.
- Our wartime chop is almost twice as long, isn't it? - Yeah.
I'd get more money for that.
- Well, the customer would get less meat.
- Right.
A lot of your weekly ration, you would take as the bone.
It's important, if the customer wants a good cut of meat, they get to know Simon, and Simon likes them.
- It changes the relationship between customer and retailer.
- I like this.
The customer's not always right.
The retailer's always right.
'By including plenty of bone on their cuts, 'butchers could achieve the weight of sales the Ministry of Food was expecting 'and still have plenty of meat left over to trade on the black market.
' - You've not got too many qualms, have you? - No, no.
And I deserve it.
I'm working hard.
No qualms at all.
If you're making sacrifices in other areas life, aren't you entitled to a bit of home comfort? You've sent your sons off to war.
Your daughter's in the factory.
You're working extra shifts, extra hours.
Surely, there should be a little bit of reward for that extra work.
'By the autumn of 1940, black marketeering was becoming widespread in the countryside.
'At the same time, ships importing food to Britain 'were being sunk by the Nazis.
' ON RADIO: 'This is the BBC Home Service' 'Among them was the HMS Jervis Bay, 'whose heroic self-sacrifice enabled the rest of her convoy to escape.
' ON RADIO: 'I would first like to mention the gallant action of the Jervis Bay.
'Without one thought for their own safety, 'her crew immediately attacked the raider, 'without one thought of defeating the enemy.
'Words fail to express the gallantry of the men aboard the Jervis Bay.
' Really emphasises the, um the cost to human life.
It makes you think about the value of what they were carrying.
If you'd been wasting that, doing something a bit dodgy, meaning that more stuff had to come in, then you're culpable.
Many people in 1940, who had perhaps not taken the rationing system quite as seriously, may then have reflected back on the severity of what they were doing.
'It's time to see whether Ruth's hay box has done its job.
' It's one of the best stews I've ever eaten.
- Those hay boxes are really efficient.
- Less fuel, I suppose.
Less fuel and less time as well.
Brought in from the four corners of the empire, Peter.
Thanks to brave merchant shippers.
We'll drink to them.
To the merchant seamen.
OWL HOOTS 'With merchant ships taking a hammering throughout 1940, 'imports fell rapidly.
'Livestock farmers in particular felt the impact, 'with imports of animal feed falling by over a third.
' Where is that dog? Henry! Come on, Henry.
Mind of his own.
'Home-grown alternatives, like silage, took on a new urgency.
'The boys are ready to have a go at making it.
'The first step is building an air-tight container, or silo, 'for the sugar-beet tops.
'But there's some bad news.
' - We have the remnants of a sugar-beet crop.
- Look at this! We've got hoof prints, cow poo.
Wonder who the culprit was(!) 'The cows got into the field where the tops were kept, and eaten them.
' They've eaten all the green material and left us with the sugar-beet.
They've had a good old snack on what is, essentially, their winter feed.
- So they've raided the larder early.
- They really don't understand.
- This is all for their benefit.
- Yeah.
We have to go out there with the scythes, with the forks and get some more material.
'There was plenty of official advice about unorthodox ways to make silage.
' It's a measure of how desperate the government had got that they were advocating harvesting nettles, which is a weed.
Nettles are very nutritious - good iron content, good protein content.
They just grow everywhere.
'It isn't just scraps to go IN the silo that the boys need to gather.
'They must also forage for materials to make the structure itself.
' All of the metal in Britain in 1940, of course, would be used to build bombers, fighter planes.
So we're going to have to make do with scrap from the farmyard.
- It's a lot of work.
- It's a hell of a lot of work.
- We need some help.
I should get down the Labour Exchange and see if we can't pick ourselves up a couple of land girls to help, because we're going to need it.
'The wartime drive for food production 'meant extra labour was desperately needed.
'An intense campaign encouraged women to join in the battle of the fields.
'Thousands responded, and the Women's Land Army 'soon became a feature of farms across the country.
'Historians Nicola Verdon and Caroline Bressey 'have come to help build the silo, a classic job for the indispensible land girls.
' - This is Peter.
- Hi.
- Nicola and Caroline are our land girls for the day.
Nicola, shall we get cracking on sorting this tin out? - If you do that, we'll go grab some tops to stick in it.
- Sure.
For when IF we finally build it.
- Henry's not enjoying this damp ground.
- I don't think anyone's enjoying this damp ground.
'Land girls worked at least 50 hours a week, 'with full-timers paid roughly two-thirds the wages of male agricultural labourers.
'Nicola Verdon has written extensively on the history of women in the British countryside.
' Was there a clamour to join the Women's Land Army? Certainly, it was a very attractive proposition for some women, who saw it as a way to get out the city centres and to enjoy the outdoor life.
They may have had a certain image of what farm work was like.
The government propaganda and posters were rather glamorous.
The reality when they got here was rather different.
It must have been a steep learning curve for many of these girls, coming from the town to a completely alien environment and an alien set of jobs.
Farmers, and also a lot of women themselves, had to be persuaded that they were both physically capable of doing the work and doing it well.
There was quite a lot of prejudice amongst the farming community.
But women proved themselves.
They proved that they were physically capable of doing the work, that they were honest and honourable workers.
A lot of farmers were won over.
Certainly a great story.
And we're incredibly indebted to you for your help today.
Otherwise, I don't think we'd get this done in the time we have.
'The number of women in work rose by over two million 'between 1939 and 1943, and voluntary organisations also flourished.
' .
in the orchard.
The tree round the back's got quite a lot on.
'Ruth is getting involved with the Women's Institute, or WI, 'and has roped in her daughter Eve 'to help with her first task - food preservation.
' So, Mum, what exactly is the WI? It's a women's organisation that was very much part of that whole desire to do your bit and to try and sort out some of the problems that war had caused the population.
Food preservation was high on their agenda.
Over 5,000 tons of food that would have just rotted on the floor and been eaten by wasps and things.
- 5,000 tons! - That's a lot.
- Extra food because of this.
You could feel that every apple you pick is one in the eye for Hitler.
LAUGHTER - He ain't gonna starve us out cos we're gonna sort it! - Yeah.
'Ruth will collect apples from all over the farm, 'then take them to a WI centre to be preserved.
'At the silo, the girls of the Land Army are proving their worth.
' This one's a bit shorter than that one.
Doesn't matter about the length, but the camber will be the same.
- Right.
- The internal circumference.
Does that make sense? I haven't got a clue what you're talking about! I've worked with Peter for years so I know his strange language.
'But not all women were accepted into its ranks.
'An infamous rejection was that of London-born Amelia King, 'who tried to join the Land Army in 1943.
'Caroline Bressey has studied Amelia's case.
' Initially, she was rejected from the Land Army, from serving, because she was a black woman.
- The woman who was recruiting noted the colour of her skin - Right.
and suggested that it might be a problem.
Amelia was rejected four times.
Eventually, she went to her MP and questions were raised in the House of Commons.
That's when it hit the headlines.
'Amelia's plight was taken up by the national press.
'The Land Army claimed that no farmer would employ a black woman.
'But one farmer went out of his way to challenge this - 'Alfred Roberts.
' He said, "If she's willing to work, I'm happy to take her on.
" So she said, "Yes, I'd like to do that job, "but only if the Land Army employs me as a land girl.
" It was a matter of principle that she wanted them to take her on.
The fact that he'd come forward undermined their argument of prejudice with the farmers, so they took her on.
'The story was especially famous at Manor Farm, 'because Alfred Roberts was a neighbouring farmer.
' - Where are you in this photograph? - I'm in the background somewhere.
'His daughter, Betty Rudd, worked side-by-side with Amelia King.
' - Is that you there? - That's me.
- You're right behind Amelia.
Right behind her, yes.
Betty, your father was the farmer who gave Amelia King a job.
He was, yes.
Do you know why he did that? Well, because he felt so strongly about it.
Why should she be refused to work? It was in the headlines in every paper, that particular time.
Nobody would accept her.
So he immediately got hold of the phone number and phoned these people and said, "She can come here.
" - Amelia came and she was part of the gang? - She was.
- She enjoyed her time here? - She did.
She was very good, and also the other girls were good to her, they accepted her.
It was hard work, very hard work.
When you think of it, looking back, they all said it seemed like five years just went like that.
Because we were enjoying ourselves so much doing things for the country.
ALEX: Growing food.
Which was the essential thing.
'After her time in the Land Army, 'Amelia King disappears from the pages of history.
'It's believed she died in 1995, but her actions as a young woman 'helped to chip away at the prejudice in British society, 'as wartime pressures forced barriers to be broken down.
'Although women were doing the same jobs as men, 'they were still expected to run the home.
'The Women's Institute advised their members to let nothing go to waste.
' I got this great book come through from the WI, Thrift Crafts.
It's got all sorts of things, including what to do with feathers.
Which, considering we've just had to cull the chickens, makes sense.
'The WI put out wartime publications 'with a heavy emphasis on reviving old-fashioned rural skills.
' Using every feather off every bird you pluck, people in the countryside have been doing that for centuries.
But it had fallen out of favour.
You didn't really need to.
Things were more available in the shops.
Here we all are, at the beginning of the '40s, suddenly having to go back to this older, more thrifty way.
The WI were in pole position to be the ones to disseminate knowledge to a much wider section of the population.
'The book recommends using the chicken's wing feathers to make dusters.
' As well as being the very best feathers for feather dusters, the wing feathers are some of the hardest to pull.
You'd expect it really, wouldn't you? You've got this nice strong quill at the bottom, which is what makes them so good for the job.
It doesn't say in the book how you make the feather duster, it just says that you should.
I thought I'd probably tie them with some thread.
My theory is, if I start with a little like a posy or a tuft to do the top.
Do-do-do-do I wonder if this is going to work.
'Binding the feathers in a spiral 'makes a duster that will get into every crevice.
' Quite serviceable, I think.
Thank goodness for the WI and all their little booklets.
'With the silo built, the team can start filling it.
'First, they must make careful preparation 'to ensure the silage material isn't contaminated with soil.
'Otherwise, unwanted bacteria will develop and ruin the taste of the cows' milk.
' I think that's a pretty good covering.
Right, pitchforks.
Choose your weapon.
- Your work is in there, Nicola.
- Do I stay in here? - Stay in there.
As Caroline forks it over, with our help You got your fork handy? I have.
You're going to tread it like an Italian treading grapes.
- So am I trying to kind of shift it? - It's the trampling down that counts.
'Treading the material forces oxygen out of it, 'which in turn allows the nutrients to be preserved - a bit like pickling.
' It's actually very hard work.
I'm quite out of breath now.
But it's getting higher.
'Although silage had been known about for centuries, 'until the Second World War, many farmers in Britain had never tried making it.
' This really is at the forefront of 1940s farming.
All their lives, farmers had been making hay, and that was really very much more of an artform.
Making silage was a science that they didn't really understand.
So they were deeply, deeply sceptical.
The government wanted this to happen on every farm, but the reality was it happened on very, very few farms.
We would have been innovators of our age.
- Where do you want it? - That far corner.
'The Women's Institute preserving day has begun, 'staffed by ladies of the Hampshire WI.
'Throughout the war, centres like this operated all over the country, 'preserving thousands of tons of produce for the nation.
'Ann Stamper is the WI's archivist and has come along to supervise proceedings.
' The sheer numbers of tins, the sheer numbers of pounds of fruit is huge! Yes, yes.
Just on this one page here, 68 and a half pounds of fruit, 41 and a half pound of sugar, and that yielded 74 pounds of jam and jelly.
- Free.
- Free, yeah.
- In one day.
'Though the WI was famous for jam making, 'that wasn't the only preserving method at their disposal.
'In 1940, home canning machines were donated to Britain from North America.
'But home front housewives had never seen this technology before.
' - You don't hear much about home canning, do you? - Not very much.
- Have you done it? - I haven't done it, no.
- Really? - No.
- Has anybody here ever canned any fruit? ALL: No.
Bottled and jammed but not canned.
I hope we get this right, then.
'Ruth's about to put this machine into action 'for the first time since the Second World War.
' Line it up carefully.
- It sits in there.
- That's quite easy.
So, lock it in.
And now Got to turn the handle at least 20 times.
One, twofour, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 20! Did anything happen there? It's stuck.
- Well it seems to have worked! - ALL LAUGH So this has got to be sterilised.
- This is what this other pan of water's for.
- That's right.
So we sort of cook it in the can.
I think we can get the hang of this.
'After being peeled and cored, 'the apples are covered in sugar syrup so no oxygen gets in.
'Working closely with the Ministry of Food, 'the WI sent their produce straight into the rationing system, 'with no reward for themselves.
' - And all these people in here would have been volunteers.
- Oh, yes.
These women or other WI members would be coming in here from nine in the morning till five in the evening.
So, as a volunteer, you're making a gift of your apples, making a donation of your time, you get nothing back, personally.
No, it's your contribution, as a countrywoman, to winning the war.
- OK, Peter, are you ready with the molasses? - We are, Alex.
This is another by-product of the sugar-beet industry.
OK? It's a bit like brown sauce, this stuff.
It's really sweet, but it was absolutely crucial to making silage.
Whereas sugar was rationed, the government were so keen for farmers to make silage they gave them dispensation to use this.
'Molasses was seen as vital to the preservation process, 'helping fermentation of the crop to begin.
'The government encouraged all wartime farmers to make silage, 'and though it never became widely popular, levels of production 'are estimated by some to have reached a million tons.
'The ladies of the Women's Institute are celebrating a successful canning drive.
'Together, the WI and the Land Army engaged 'almost 600,000 women in the war effort.
'The two organisations were headed by the same person, 'Lady Gertrude Denman, who did everything she could 'to ensure they helped each other out.
' In this copy of Home And Country, which was the WI magazine, Lady Denman actually wrote a letter .
which she actually headed "An appeal to farmers' wives".
Oh, yeah.
"The prejudice against a woman attempting to do a man's work dies hard.
" That's true enough, isn't it? "The progress of the Land Army in the past year shows that it can be overcome.
" She goes on in that letter to suggest that one of the ways WI members can help is by inviting land girls into their houses to have a bath, if the place where they're working hasn't got a bath.
She suggests they come as guests to the WI meetings.
That did happen.
Quite a few joined the WI.
You're getting higher.
'In tribute to their sisters in the field, 'the ladies of the WI are rounding off the day 'with the Land Army's official anthem, Back To The Land.
' PIANO ACCOMPANIMEN Back to the land We must all lend a hand To the farms and the fields we must go There's a job to be done Though we can't fire a gun We can still do our bit with the hoe When your muscles are strong You will soon get along And you'll think that a country life's grand - Race against time, this.
- Yeah.
Rain's coming.
Got to move faster.
A little over that there.
- Not a bad job, that.
- A brilliant job.
It makes you realise how hard work it was.
We're extremely grateful for your help.
'With autumn's bounty safely preserved, the team are ready to face the winter, 'and the shortages that wartime would continue to bring.
' .
all you can help in the war If you come with us back to the land.
- Hip, hip! - Hooray! 'Next timean influx of evacuees means a shortage of space.
' It's warm, it's dry, better than being in the city centre of Southampton.
'Emergency repairs are needed.
' - Whoa! Whoa! - Peter, what are you doing? 'And the team prepare for Christmas under fire.
' Put it to the back of your mind and have what fun one can, while you can.
Make the most of it while you can.
'To find out more about how Britain fed itself 'during the Second World War, 'the Open University has produced a free booklet 'and online interactive challenges to explore.
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