The Americans are coming! The Americans are Coming! Manor farm welcomes the Americans. The Allies were in control of the skies and the seas again. The ships were importing military hardware and soldiers. The farmer’s job was not done yet.
Eleven million acres of land were taken over for military camps. It was one-fifth of British land. The Americans had to do their maneuvers somewhere. Flax was the key to D-Day’s success. Farmers had to meet the demand for flax. Flax production went from 1,000 to 60,000 acres. However, Peter and Alex are having no luck with their flax. When Britain fought in World War II they had the perfect weather conditions to grow flax. Alex and Peter comment on the farmers and how the War Ag expected farmers to go against their instincts.
The preparation for D-Day continued in Britain. One important piece of that preparation was carrier pigeons. Civilian racing pigeons were used for this part of the war effort. They parachuted pigeons behind enemy lines and were picked up by the resistance. Bomber crews also carried pigeons in their planes. There were even metals for animals. Pigeons won the most medals out of the animals that received the medals. Farmers trained their birds to be able to fly over large distances. If they did not train the pigeons, they would not get the feed for pigeons. Ruth is given the task to make a pigeon basket.
The summer is proving to be wet. Alex is working on repairing his raincoat. He makes a traditional waterproofing solution. He uses beeswax, linseed oil, and paraffin. He slowly mixes the liquid up. Peter volunteers to put on the jacket while Alex paints on the solution.
Ruth makes a pigeon basket. The demand for the basket was huge and during the war, basket making saw a huge comeback. There were plenty of baskets that were used for the military. Ruth comments on the demand for baskets. She comments that her basket-making efforts would make a professional wince. However, she is proud of her efforts. Peter and Alex will take Ruth’s basket to help train carrier pigeons. Basket-making became a reserved occupation. The Women’s Institute also taught basket making.
Alex and Peter are watching the flax, however, the rain is washing the nitrogen out of the soil. The boys use chemical fertilizer on the flax field. Alex comments that if a farmer did not use chemical fertilizer would have been seen as not being part of the war effort.
Peter and Alex meet up with Leonard, a man who trains carrier pigeons. He started in 1947. They show him Ruth’s basket and they all have a good laugh at Ruth’s expense. Leonard remembers the homing pigeons being recruited to carry back messages from France. He commented that if you did not join, you did not get an allocation of feed. He saw only one pigeon come back. Once the pigeon came back they would take the message to the police station. Radio silence was crucial to the D-Day invasions.
The other type of pigeon was not a welcome sight in the sky. Wood pigeons could be shot down, and the government tracked down flocks. It was additional meat to the diet and people who were “sniffy” at eating them started to eat them. Ruth prepares a wood pigeon. Pigeon makes a rich brothy stock.
Peter and Alex then head out to the sea to train the bird they borrowed. The Government took control of fishing boats as well. The boats were used to run supplies between the bases. To continue to learn more about homing pigeons and what Ruth made watch the rest of this episode.
The basking making would be a good section to show to an art class. This would be a good episode for an independent study student to watch.
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