Time really does fly when you’re having fun on the farm.
One farm that’s brought us a lot of joy over the past strange year is Caenhill Countryside Centre, whose team is celebrating one year since their iconic morning ‘rush hour’ video went viral on TikTok and Twitter. If you’re not familiar with Caenhill farm, Chris Franklin the farmer, and Cuthbert the goose, allow me to explain.
Located in Devizes, Wiltshire in the southwest of England, Caenhill found internet fame last year after the world fell in love with its morning video posts. These videos don’t show ‘rush hour’ in the typical sense of the phrase — there’s no traffic jams or packed train carriages. Instead, you’ll see Chris unbolt the door to his barn prompting a flurry of myriad different animals hurtling towards him. The undeniable star of the show, Cuthbert the goose, still features regularly, and Smudge and Socks the cats, Ken the Rooster, Dotty the sheep are just a few of the regular fixtures that rush hour fans look out for in these delightful videos.
“Who’s going to be first out today?” is a frequently asked question.
is an educational farm and charity for children and young people. It aims to teach youngsters about the countryside and caring for animals. This peaceful corner of rural Wiltshire and all the animals that call it home are broadcast daily to viewers all over the world. The farm started six years ago with a little lamb called Dotty, and over the years the family of farm animals — many of which are rescued animals — has grown.
Exactly one year ago to the day, I was idly scrolling through TikTok on my phone when I stumbled upon the most wonderful, joyful video I’d ever seen on the app. I shared the video on Twitter just before going to bed and when I woke up and looked at my phone, I wasn’t sure quite what had hit it. That video ended up getting retweeted nearly 35K times, garnering 145K likes, and racking up an enormous 2.4 million views.
I hadn’t realised a whole year had passed until I received an email from Chris which began with his signature ‘rush hour’ salutation: “Greetings and Good Morning and in some cases goodnight.” In short, this was the best email I’d received all year. “My daughter Kara reminded me that it was the rush hour on 28 July 2019 that you retweeted which went viral. 2.4M views!” Chris wrote.
To celebrate this special anniversary, Chris told me he planned to do a special rush hour to mark the occasion. He ended up doing two rush hours — a mini one featuring newcomer Dive the gosling (!!!) and a standard rush hour featuring everyone’s favourite stars of the show.
“It’s like a carnival this morning,” Chris’ mellifluous voice beamed out. It really is.
It would be remiss of me not to post the mini rush hour featuring goslings and ducklings, so here’s another little treat for you:
I interviewed Chris, the farmer behind the videos, last summer in the days following the viral video. He’d started the week with just a few hundred Twitter followers, but that number grew rapidly to 19.9K followers in a matter of days. That number, one year later, now stands at nearly 75K followers. Over on TikTok, the farm has been seeing enormous gains too with 164.6K followers.
A lot can change in a year — and 2020 is certainly demonstrating that fact to each and every one of us. So, how are things going down on the farm? In the email, Chris reflected on the changes that have occurred over the past year since the farm became TikTok famous, putting the charity on the map. It was difficult to adapt to the newfound attention at first, Chris told me. But they’ve since adjusted and are now receiving funds to support their community work via sponsored shoutouts in videos and virtual tours of the farm. “This has kept us going through lockdown,” he told me. Chris has enlisted the help of his daughter Kara and her 30-month-old son, Casey, who’s known on the internet as Farmer Casey. Chris also works alongside French artist Caroline Le Bourgeois, who makes many video appearances.
Along with their burgeoning follower counts, the number of animals on the farm has also grown over the past year. The farm now has a YouTube presence too, posting live videos every day at 6 a.m. Caroline also vlogs about her work at the farm from a separate account. Kara writes the farm blog over on the Caenhill website, for people wanting to stay up to date with the farm’s news.
One day I hope to visit this special farm that has brought the internet a huge amount of joy over the past year — at a time when many of us need it the most. Until then, I’ll catch you at rush hour.