Chewy Productions

FILM – EDIT – WATCH

The Spring Snow Disaster

My new film. It’s a film with a very important message. Please watch and share on your facebooks, blog, twitter, website etc. It’s good to share.

Or if you prefer Vimeo…

My mini claim to fame is I once saved a drowning sheep from a river. Ok, it’s not a claim to fame at all but it did give me a good feeling knowing I saved a life. It also gave me soggy jeans and the fact it jumped into the river trying to run away from me is neither here nor there.

Anyway, I digress…

When the snow hit in March and the story broke about potentially thousands of sheep, cows, ponies etc being buried under ridiculously big snow drifts I was kept up to date by a farmer I follow on twitter – Gareth Wyn Jones.

The snow hit at the worst time – lambing season. Vulnerable pregnant sheep or new born lambs were hidden under tonnes and tonnes of snow. Many were killed, many weren’t found for weeks (or still missing) but incredibly some were found an dug out weak but otherwise alive and healthy. This is a story people need to see so I arranged to go down follow Gareth as he continues his search.

My mum’s side of the family are either farmers or have links to farmers so the industry is in my blood somewhere. I love the outdoors and love being in the middle of nowhere away from it all but I could never be a farmer myself. I’m more suited to the kind of job that involves sitting down for extended periods of time.

The next morning I woke up at 5.15, shoved a camera in my bag and set off on a 2 hour drive to Wales. I wasn’t the only person who thought this deserved coverage and as I’m writing this a few weeks after filming all areas of the media are still contacting Gareth for interviews and his take on a story which had a massive impact on farmers across the UK.

North Wales is a gorgeous place. The sun was shining and everything seemed normal for Spring but the higher and higher we got snow covered the ground and got thicker and thicker until the land became unrecognisable. No longer were we in the Great British countryside. We were surely in an Alaskan winter. What I saw that day I will never forget.

We were able to cross from field to field not by using gates or stiles but by simply walking over the walls that were covered by snow. It plays on your senses a little when you realise the ground you’re walking on wasn’t there the previous week. At one point while I thought I was walking in a field it turned out I’d walked into the road. No need to worry about oncoming traffic, the road was around 7 feet of snow below me.

As for the sheep, well, it was Gareth’s amazing dog that deserves the praise here. He wandered the snow drifts and paused every time he caught a scent. More likely than not after a bit – sometimes a LOT – of digging, sheep were pulled out. While I was there he found 2 but in the previous days he’d found dozens. That’s dozens of lives he saved. Of course not all of them were alive. Many were frozen solid or too weak to survive. For the lambs it wasn’t over. If they survived the snow they had to survive the foxes and crows that prey on the vulnerable.  It was a haunting sight.

I run and keep myself pretty fit but after walking through the snow for hours I was extremely tired. Covering miles of ground when every step goes up to your knees or even your waist isn’t easy. Gareth had been doing this from dawn till dusk every day since the snow came and was exhausted in every sense of the word. It hit him physically, emotionally and also financially. For some this could be the end of their life as farmers. The cost of feeding the animals is at an all time high, fuel for tractors and equipment the same while the price they’re getting for their meat, milk, crops etc is the lowest it’s been for years. The farming industry was struggling anyway and now this. Talk about hitting you when you’re down.

But what I was left with was an enormous fighting spirit. Giving up simply isn’t an option. I’ve been inundated with messages of support. The film isn’t just about Gareth, it represents all farmers and aims to carry the message of buying British. I hope with watching the film it makes people realise what happens behind the scenes in order for us to have food on our tables and clothes on our backs. Farming is a way of life and seems an idyllic job to many but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. It isn’t always pretty and it’s hardly ever easy. In fact it can be the hardest, loneliest job in the world but without them the country would simply grind to a halt. So the next time you’re wondering if it’s worth paying a little extra for quality British goods, think about the months, if not years of effort that have gone into getting that product onto the shelf.

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