The Hill Farm (4 x ) – Hill farmer Gareth Wyn Jones is desperately searching for his sheep. It’s Spring 2013 – and Wales has been hit by freak, unseasonal weather – a fierce blizzard with gale-force winds and heavy snow that’s crippled parts of the country.
The extreme weather has proved devastating for upland farms and couldn’t have come at a worse time. Gareth has lost a significant number of ewes and lambs, but he’s working tirelessly to save what he can.
For hundreds of years, farming has formed a vital part of the Welsh economy. Generations of farmers have worked the land, and high above Llanfairfechan on the north Wales coast, the Jones family have been farming the slopes of the Carneddau mountains for centuries.
Cameras followed Gareth and his family as they went about their daily lives over the course of a year. He’s a farmer first and foremost, but Gareth has also gained a degree of fame in recent years for numerous appearances on television, as well as for a steady stream of messages and photos on his Twitter account. His wife Rhian – busy taking care of the family, their home and the garden – children Rolant, Siôr and Mari, and Gareth’s parents Roland and Eryl, who also live on the farm, all feature prominently during the series.
Last year’s snow undoubtedly added to the beauty of the stunning landscape of the hills overlooking the eastern part of the Menai Strait over to Anglesey, but Gareth is quick to demonstrate the harsh difficulties that ensued.
By the second programme in the series, the snow has long disappeared and it’s time for the lambs to be turned out onto the mountain pastures. But first they need to be rounded up and given a special mark to identify them as Gareth’s property. There are over 500 lambs to mark, so members of the extended family have come along to lend a hand.
Gareth introduces Uncle Wil, Owen John, Uncle Teg, Robert Jones, Ieuan – “all related – cousins and uncles together,” he says. “This is how we do our jobs up here.”
Farming has certainly changed since the time of his forefathers. Gareth’s agility on Twitter and his knack of getting the media to pay attention to his views on the fragile reality of farming today demonstrates that he’s not afraid of the challenge of change. But the underlying question throughout the series is clear – what does the future hold for the traditional Welsh hill farm?
Channel: BBC Cymru Wales
Producer: Indus Films
TX: 18th March 2014
Source: BBC press release