Country Life Today: Sheepdogs guarding geese, our best ever blackberry jam recipe and cows just jumping for joy

Today's news round up features sheepdog puppies learning to guard geese, a stellar blackberry jam recipe, a fab fact about the Ashes and a herd of cows just jumping for joy

Harvest 2019: a mixed picture across the UK

The record-breaking weekend weather gave farmers in the East of England a chance to nearly wrap up their harvest for the year, but in the south there are still issues with soggy crops, despite the blistering bank holiday weather.

In Scotland, the combines are making great progress and remain on schedule, while across the water in Northern Ireland farmers are very close to being finished for the year, in advance of expectations.

Full Story (Farmers Weekly)

Two puppies in Somerset are training as guard dogs for geese

A fascinating agricultural experiment in Somerset is taking place, as a farmer is training up two specially-bred puppies to protect his poultry.

Oliver White had seen for himself how Maremma Sheepdogs worked to protect sheep, poultry and even cows while studying in the US.

Back home and running his own business, Farm2Fork at Greenway Farm near Ilminster, Mr White found his poultry being taken in broad daylight. Having unsuccessfully tried using alpacas, he was determined to locate some guard dogs to see whether they would be able to do the job.

Full Story (Country Life)

Our best-ever blackberry jam recipe

blackberry recipes

Blackberry bushes are groaning with fruit, and there are a million things you can do with these little beauties but we think you can’t beat making a good old-fashioned jam. Try our best ever recipe this autumn and you won’t look back

Full story (Country Life)

Previously unknown pearl mussel population discovered

A new population of globally endangered freshwater pearl mussels has been discovered in a Scottish river, giving fresh hope to those working to conserve the rare mollusc.

Freshwater pearl mussels Cumbria

The population, which is successfully breeding on its own, was found in a tributary of the River Spey, in an area of native woodland which is being kept secret in order to avoid poaching.

Freshwater pearl mussels can live for up to 280 years, but the species is critically endangered as a large proportion of the populations across Europe haven’t successfully bred for several decades.

Full story (Country Life)

On this day…

The Ashes was created (sort of)

On August 29, 1882, England was defeated on home turf at The Oval by Australia, losing by just 7 runs. The country was in shock that it could have lost a Test match to a colony, and there was a  great deal of handwringing by the home side. The event inspired a now famous mock obituary which appeared in The Sporting Times.

‘In affectionate remembrance of English cricket which died at The Oval, 29th August, 1882. Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances, RIP. NB The body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia.’

After England’s defeat the Hon. Ivo Bligh, afterwards Lord Darnley, lead a team to Australia, now with the popular objective of recovering ‘the Ashes’. In the event, Australia won the first Test but England won the next two, and it became generally accepted that they brought back ‘the Ashes’. And so the Ashes came into being.

The best village shops in Britain

Did your local shop make our list of the best in the country?

Village shop illustration

We’ve scoured the nation to find those stalwarts of community spirit, the top village shops in the land, from the Isle of Barra to Cornhill on Tweed.

Full story (Country Life)

Detectors discover ‘massively important’ treasure

A couple for Derby have unearthed a significant coin hoard in a field new Chew Valley.

The Norman treasure, described as ‘massively important’ by the British Museum, revealed a 1,000-year-old form of tax evasion.

Some of the 2,528 pieces combined elements of two different coins, known as a ‘mule’ coin, which were used to avoid having to pay for a replacement when the currency became outdated.

‘It is the largest Norman hoard found since 1833 and the largest ever found from the immediate aftermath of the Norman Conquest,’ said the museum experts.

Full story (The Times)

And finally…

Are these cows just having fun or has someone been training them for showjumping?


Recipes with blackberries

Read our favourite blackberry recipes for autumn, from healthy cookies to delicious vension fillet with blackberry sauce.

The charms of Belted Galloways

Farming Belted Galloway cows is a pleasure as this breed not only looks charming, but they’re also extremely hardy