Jul 29, 2019

    This British Farmer Didn’t Know His Wholesome TikTok Account Was Going Viral

    Cuthbert the Goose, Trigger the Pig, and others went viral in America — and helped British children in the process.

    You might know TikTok as a meme incubator and as this year’s fastest-growing social media app. It’s a world where teenage influencers have more followers than Ariana Grande.

    Honestly I’m not sure there is anything purer than farmers on TikTok

    Well, due to a series of extremely wholesome posts... a farm in the southwest of England has also been going viral. The Caenhill Countryside Centre is a charity near Devizes, Wiltshire, which works with schoolchildren and young people to teach them about farming, animals, and the countryside.

    The video in question is one of many “rush hour” videos posted by 61-year-old Chris Franklin, in which he opens the door to his barn in the morning and commentates as the many ducks, geese, and roosters inside make their way into the yard.

    When BuzzFeed News spoke to him on the phone, Franklin had just finished showing a group of young carers around.

    His father was a tenant farmer on the 70 acres of land on which the farm is situated for 40 years. Franklin left the farm in 1987 and worked with the police, filming crime scenes, and for the council. After his father retired, in 2002, only parts of the land were used, meaning areas ended up overgrown and derelict.

    He and his wife took over the farm around five years ago. They started with “nothing”, he told BuzzFeed News, but the charity took off, and now has around 100 animals.

    Franklin had always been interested in the internet, he said, and he heard the kids on his farm talking about TikTok. When he went on the app, he was confused by the fact there were people “lipsyncing and doing fun things ... 15 seconds of madness!”

    He wondered if his own footage of the animals would go down well on the app. Well, thousands of views and followers later, it most certainly has.

    One of his followers’ favourite animals is Cuthbert the Goose, whom Franklin describes as “the master of the farm”. Cuthbert was actually hatched by a duck, as his mother left him in the nest with it.

    Franklin picked him up when he was a little gosling and carried him around in his sleeve. His real name should of course be “Cuff-bert”, he said.

    Ken and Kenny are the farm’s two main roosters: “They start at 4am trying to impress the ladies,” Franklin said, “and they don’t finish till 10pm.”

    Caenhill Countryside Centre isn’t a working farm — so a lot of the animals there are rescued, like Trigger the Pig. “Everyone loves him,” Franklin said.

    Coco and Eli, the donkeys, were rescued too.

    Franklin had no idea his footage had gone mega viral on Twitter — but he was aware he was building up a TikTok following.

    The charity — which is staffed by volunteers and sustains itself from donations from local businesses, including Aldi and Sainsbury’s, which give fruit and veg — has even had Paypal donations from the US, where Franklin says most of his TikTok followers come from.

    Supplied

    His friend Caroline, who helps with the farm, creates cards and paintings which they have also sold to America thanks to the TikTok account.

    Supplied

    He said that he’d received messages from people across the pond saying they were getting ready for bed and were still waiting for his regular “rush hour” videos.

    In the future, Franklin is trying to take on more people to work at the farm and raise funds for a farm kitchen so children can learn to pick vegetables and how to cook them.

    Franklin said part of the magic of his farm is the way that all the animals could live together — he said some people had compared its existence to the film Babe.

    And then there’s all the good work it’s done for the local young people. “It gives us the chance to create memories — and careers,” he added.

    Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Alan White at alan.white@buzzfeed.com.

    Got a confidential tip? Submit it here