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Sheep farming in Cumbria

  • by JW

Shepherding has a long tradition in Devon:

Sheep farming in the Sid Valley

And of course in many other parts of the western parts of the British Isles. This week, Radio 4 Extra has been broadcasting from ‘The Shepherd’s Life’ – a view of hill-side farming in Cumbria. Here’s a blurb from the writer’s publishers:

James Rebanks is a shepherd who lives and works in the eastern Lake District, in the same valleys and fells that his family has farmed for over 600 years.  As @herdyshepherd1 he tweets about his farm and his flock’s daily life, and has over 60,000 followers.

He is the author of THE SHEPHERD’S LIFE, [link not broken!] a Sunday Times #1 bestseller, described in the Independent as “an unforgettable book, one that raises important questions.  It is also one of the most truthful depictions of contemporary rural life that I have read”.

James Rebanks |

Here are some pieces from the Futures Forum which have featured the Cumbrian shepherd’s life:

Futures Fourm: Wilderness vs farming: How can we produce enough food for both humans and life on the planet to survive?

Futures Forum: National Parks and people-free spaces

Futures Forum: Brexit: and good news for Exmoor farmers

Futures Forum: The Commons: ‘it’s very much now’ in Cumbria and Exmoor

Futures Forum: Brexit: and Dartmoor

James Rebanks tells his story – and the life of shepherding today:

The Shepherd’s Life

Part 1 of 5

Some people’s lives are entirely their own creations. James Rebanks’s isn’t. The first son of a shepherd, who was the first son of a shepherd himself, he and his family have lived and worked in and around the Lake District for generations.

It’s a life lived according to the demands of the seasons: sending the sheep to the fells in the summer and making the hay; the autumn fairs where the flocks are replenished; the gruelling toil of winter when the sheep must be kept alive, and the light-headedness that comes with spring, as the lambs are born and the sheep get ready to return to the fells.

Through his eyes, we see that the Lake District is not a playground or a scenic backdrop, it’s a working landscape that needs sheep and its farmers to survive.

James Rebanks has a huge following on Twitter (using his moniker: @herdyshepherd1) where you can see photographs detailing day to day life on the farm – including his fine flock of Herdwick sheep and, the latest additions to the workforce, sheepdog Floss’s ten puppies.

The Shepherds’ Life |

And here are a couple of his latest tweets – where he combines tradition and new ways of managing the landscape:

New wilder area of the farm created where we have rewiggled the beck (stream) and created ponds. Plan is more willow and scrub… with pulses of cow grazing

  6 hours ago

We have started to fence off our wood pasture area and add/restore another half mile of hedgerow. And ordered another 1000 saplings Taking this winters total to over 7000

This couple are an inspiration – I’ve watched this a few times Love their attitude. Thomas and Claire O’Connor Farming For Nature Ambassador 2019

Since the Ancient world everyone sensible has known that people who lose the ability to feed themselves are not actually free. Hence most liberation movements like abolitionism featured strong agrarian threads – we need land and food production in more hands not less

As a society we suckers for every new technology and every new ‘disruption’ and utterly disinterested in the simplest solution of all… Paying a price for naturally produced food that would allow sustainable farming using natural processes (and demanding that in turn)

This is the most dystopian nonsense I have ever heard Taking food production from the 2 billion poorest people on earth and handing it to Bill Gates and mates. It would lower food prices and drive further field intensification and trash animal welfare by undermining good farming

In place of farm animals, Monbiot wants lab-grown meat and “vat-etarian” food powders produced by specialized bacteria brewed up in giant vats’. . Excellent on the folly of techno-utopia