Watch Tales From River Cottage

British TV personality and chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall made the drastic decision to downsize from his suburban life to a small rural farm in the county of Dorset and try to live a self sufficient lifestyle. Hugh learns the hard way how difficult it can be to only eat what is in season and live off the animals and crops grown on the small farm. Throughout the episodes Hugh looks back at his triumphs and failures before deciding whether to continue with the lifestyle or not.

TVF International
1 Season, 10 Episodes
January 1, 2006
Documentary & Biography
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Tales From River Cottage Full Episode Guide

  • Hugh considers the big question facing the committed smallholder: how far are you prepared to go? You don't need much space for chickens, or even for pigs, but once you've got a couple of acres, all kinds of possibilities open up. It's all a question of how hard you are prepared to work. In the final programme, Hugh looks at pasture management, health care of your animals, breeding and slaughter: these are the ultimate test of the mettle of the smallholder - so are you ready for it?

  • He explains why wild food, both plants and animals, should always be a prime part of the smallholders diet, as he learns how to hunt for rabbits, roes deer and pigeons, and how to gather edible wild plants such as elderflowers, watercress, hazelnuts and mushrooms.

  • In addition to adventure, the river and sea also offerthe smallholder free food, from crabs and cuttlefish to eels and pike, for fantastic fishy feasts. The beach is also a great place for a party, and can even make a practical contribution to the smallholding (seaweed fertiliser).

  • The first item of livestock every downshifter needs is a chicken or two. Hugh recalls the highs and lows of his poultry learning curve, from acquiring his first hens, and teaching them to climb his fox proof, high rise chicken hut, to his experiment to try and breed the tastiest roasting chicken of all time.

  • To achieve this, you need to be a bit of a wiley entrepreneur, always ready to barter and heckle, and go to market with the excess of your harvest, so you can still have your share of the good things in life. Hugh charts the rise of his own little enterprise, the River Cottage Glutton, from the local farmers market, to the streets of London, where he comes a bit unstuck with a traffic warden.

  • Hugh recalls his initiation into the rural Dorset community around River Cottage, with highlights of hospitality at home and away, from a posh dinner at the manor house to a riotous evening at the local Cider Shed. And there are plenty of helpful hints on entertaining River Cottage style.

  • From how to buy a pig, to how to make a dry-cured bacon and hams, this is a guide to all things piggy. Hugh also brings us up to date on his beloved breeding sow Delia, who he has even trained to hunt for truffles.

  • From putting in his first organic veg beds, running the gauntlet of pests, to harvesting bumper crops from his polytunnel. He also offer tips on how to triumph at the local Horticultural show - don't follow his example!

  • He offers advice to would be smallholders on how to find their own rural escape hatch, and get started on the good life. He goes on to recall the early learning curve of beginning a vegetable garden, acquiring livestock, and making new friends, with plenty of tips for viewers on how to do likewise.

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