"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Friday, 19 November 2010

Days of Yore

I'm going to have another soapbox moment today...

A few weeks ago I watched the complete BBC series "A Victorian Farm".

It was absolutely brilliant and utterly and totally frustrating - as I was left wondering why on earth the powers that be in this country don't purchase programmes like this for us all to watch? Educating, informative and uplifting. Who needs the latest movie which focusses on how to crash as many cars as possible in 1 - 2 hours of "entertainment", or produce a film which gives all those idiots / terrorists out there the latest outrageous idea's on how to inflict pain, torture and punishment on their fellow man?

It is a series which provides good, salt of the earth kind of information - which is sadly lacking in today's modern society. Especially for all of us who enjoy growing our own food, rearing whatever animals we are able, and getting on with our lives in as simple a way as possible.

"A Victorian Farm" dealt with life on a farm 100+ years ago for the period of a farming year. There were three main characters - I can only remember Ruth's name (and I think a guy called Alex) - because the names are not important - it is the lifestyle and methods from the days of yore which are.

But I was also left with wanting more...

So I googled a "Victorian Farm" to see if there were any more episodes, and I discovered that there was an earlier series called "Tales from a Green Valley" - the 2 DVD pack arrived a couple of days ago, and it is an even better series.

It is absolutely riveting and thoroughly enjoyable.  It is a perfect example of putting theoretical history into practice and provides a fascinating insight into how people lived their lives over 400 years ago.

I loved the bit in the unseen footage where Ruth was explaining that, in place of our modern shampoo, they would use fullers earth to remove the oil from their hair, rinsing it out straight away.  (Ruth further said that one couldn't do this too often, as the fullers earth really stripped away the oil from a persons head - they used to use fullers earth to remove the oil from fresh shorn sheep wool, etc.)

What I also found fascinating in both series, is discovering the origin of phrases like "upper crust" - i.e. the larney people :-) .  That came about because bread was cooked in a bread oven which was dirty from the wood with which they had heated it  - similar to a modern pizza oven, but more basic, and they had to work quickly to remove the burnt wood and residue mess so that the oven didn't lose too much heat before they "sealed" their dough in it in order to bake their bread.  The base of the bread picked up all that ash and mess.  The upper classes would slice and eat the top of the loaf, leaving the bottom (dirty) part of the loaf for the kitchen staff / lower classes.

Watching both these series highlights how much ingenuity was required on a daily basis - and affords a prime example of how little we use our brains to do our daily tasks today.  Modern conveniences have certainly caused man a reduction in use of that vital organ - and a dearth of the personal touch and care that was given to tasks in those days of yore.  Nowadays it's all about chemicals and profit!

And consuming the latest drug in order to "enhance" brain function.  Or possessing the latest iPad, BMW or designer clothing.  We've gone from cherishing and worshipping nature, to idolising and elevating possessions and people who are famous and wealthy, not because they are better, but solely because they are the "latest" and famous.

How sad.

But then there's the other aspect too - man, in general, has today become so focussed on me, myself and I - and in the VF or TFTGV it is apparent how important community was - for assisting with tasks on the farm, be they using the neighbour, his / her plough and horse, or at harvest time, and sharing in times of famine / loss, etc.  Interdependence within the local community created a richer, warmer relationship between them which, sadly, is  certainly lacking in our towns and cities today, but, also, to a smaller degree in our rural area's too.  Cities, in my mind, encourage peer pressure, jealously, hostility and greed.

Both "Tales from a Green Valley" and "A Victorian Farm" showed tasks that were performed sometimes better, often in a simpler way, although not necessarily quicker - but perhaps that is exactly what is missing today - we don't spend enough time thinking about what we are doing - we just blindly get it done as fast as we can, before we move onto the next one, so that we can finish as soon as possible and have our "time off"!

I highly recommend both of these series - if you can get hold of the DVD's on Kalahari or Amazon grab it / them with both hands :-)

Has anyone got any recommendations of what I can watch now - I'm hungry for more knowledge...?


Out Back said...

I have watched Victorian Farm on you tube, but not Tales from Green Valley. I love these type of documentaries. I am not a movie watcher, unless they are filmed about these eras. I might try to get my own copies now that you have mentioned it.

Yes a lot of people could learn a lot from watching stories like you mentioned.

Have a great day,


Dani said...

Tania, welcome to my blog. Have to say I think that Tales from the Green Valley has much more info / educational value than the Victorian Farm - but both are equally enjoyable. I agree - any movie detailing this era has me hooked, lined and sinkered LOL

Mr. H. said...

They are both wonderful videos, we have been watching the Victorian Farm in the mornings while having breakfast. I will keep an eye out for anything similar to these two for you.

Dani said...

Thanks Mr H, would really appreciate that :-)

Ginger said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. My friends (one is in the movie/entertainment industry) and co-workers are astonished that I don't regularly watch the latest movie(s). But I have no interest. There is nothing to learn in most of them, and certainly little inspiration to be found. I will look for these videos. I have nothing to offer in return as far as recommendations for others. Let me think on it...

Dani said...

Thanks G - and no rush - I have just had a dose - so the craving isn't as hectic as it could be...

Moonwaves said...

The same people have made a new series, which started on the BBC a couple of weeks ago called Edwardian Farm. I don't have access to BBC so have just heard about it on the Green Living Forum and promptly put Victorian Farm and Tales onto my list of potential birthday presents to myself this year. That forum, by the way, used to be called its not easy being green, and was originally started by Bridget Strawbridge, whose family stared in the series of that name which I would also love to see (their website is now newhousefarm.tv) but unfortunately it's not available on dvd. River Cottage is another series I enjoyed and I tend to assume everyone has heard of it but I have no idea if Channel 4 shows make it to South Africa or not! :)

Mrs. Mac said...

I just read your comments on my blog about the use of a wood stove for cooking. That is a 'wish' for one day if I ever have to replace our elect./gas cook stove. Our kitchen would have to be remodeled a little bit an I'd need an alternative area to cook in the summer to keep the heat out of the kitchen. Here is a blog about a typical (American) family that moved to a former Amish farm off grid with all of their kids .. they cook on a wood stove .. using very little conveniences.


and this blog owner uses both wood and elect. stoves depending the time of the year.


If I was younger, I'd live like my gr. grandparents off-grid. As it is, even with the modern conveniences of elect/running water, I am exhausted beyond belief at days end :) .. some of that has to do with having a special needs child though ;) Am interested in the two dvd series you mentioned. Will have to check them out. Thanks for the tip.

Nice making your acquaintance via the blog.

P.S. Yes, 30 years just flew by with hardly a nod. Congrats to you as well.

Dani said...

Moonwaves - welcome :-) Thanks for the suggestions - guess I'm going to be spending this rainy day in Cape Town googling LOL No, Channel 4 doesn't make it to SA :-(

Mrs Mac - welcome to you, too. I'm going to google your two suggestions, too - thanks very much :-)

Dani said...

Moonwaves - I'm obviously having one of those days. Yes, we did get / I watched the series "It's not easy being green" - loved it, and, as always, wanted more...

Tawney said...

Sorry to revive an old topic, but I've just found TFTGV. (Its while I was looking that I found this site).

Its on a site called moving-gardens.com.

It has that, The Edwardian Farm, The Victorian Flower Garden, Gardeners World etc etc etc.

Hope that tit-bit is useful to someone :)

Dani said...

Tawney - welcome :)

I'm sure someone will be grateful for your link - thanks.