Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host the first day of the Blog Tour
A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess
What's it all about ...
In A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess the reader joins Amanda as she describes the age-old cycles of a farming year and the constant challenges the family faces: from being cut off in winter to tending their flock on some of the country’s highest, wildest moors - land so inaccessible that in places it can only be reached on foot.
Writing with her trademark warmth and humour, Amanda tells us how her nine-year-old son Miles got his first flock, Reuben took up the flugelhorn and she herself gave birth to a new baby girl. She shares the touching stories of an epic two-day journey taken by a ewe determined to find her lamb and of Queenie, an ageing and neglected horse who comes to live at the farm. Meanwhile, her husband Clive is almost arrested on a midnight stakeout to catch a sheep-worrying dog and becomes the object of affection for a randy young bull.
Amanda’s stories abound with humour and warmth that bring the countryside alive.
My thoughts about the book..
There's something refreshingly original about reading Amanda's account of life at Ravenseat. The image of this remote stone built farm, brooding in weather that sometimes leaves the farm isolated for days at a time, and perched high in the Yorkshire Dales, could be conjured right out of a Bronte novel. The Owen family live and work in glorious isolation, often at the mercy of whatever the weather or life throws at them, but always with a sense of realism and a huge dollop of good old fashioned Yorkshire pragmatism.
|Photo Credit : Ian Forsyth|
The book starts in January when the weather in Swaledale can be brutal but with remarkable resilience, the children are up and about early, and even before most school children have dragged themselves out of bed, the Owen children have tended to their chores, feeding chickens, collecting eggs and mucking out horses. In Amanda’s world no child is too young or too small to play a part in farm life.
With nine children to look after, Amanda and her husband Clive are constantly on the go, literally from dawn until dusk with little respite from either, the weather, or of the difficulties and dangers of managing a remote hill farm, and yet, throughout the book Amanda talks about her life with such warmth and humour that you can’t help but be envious of a life which at first appears relentlessly difficult.
With about a thousand sheep to look after, this huge flock features heavily in the year’s calendar, after all that’s where the family’s living comes from, but I never expected the sheep to have such distinct personalities or of the family’s emotional attachment to them. Amanda recounts her daily dealings with her flock with great affection, some of her stories made me laugh out loud, particularly the sheep who always seemed to know when a publicity photographer was around, or the way she has of warming up vulnerable baby lambs in the oven.
|Photo Credit: Ian Forsyth|
It’s not all about sheep, although they do feature large, but it’s also about how the changing seasons affects the family, of the adventures and mishaps of daily life, and of the determination needed to keep the farm productive and sustainable.
I raced through the book, always finding something of interest, a quip that made me smile, a story that tugged away at my heartstrings or an event which brings Ravenseat to life in Amanda’s indomitable style. It must be said that by the end of the book I was in awe of this family who live, work and play with such a unique perspective , and with such utter joy of living life to the full.
Best read with...One of Amanda's home baked scones and a large mug of tea..
|Photo Credit : Ian Forsyth|
Amanda Owen has been seen by millions on ITV’s The Dales and in Ben Fogle’s New Lives in the Wild and is currently appearing on ITV1’s Countrywise. Voted Yorkshirewoman of the Year by the Dalesman magazine, she is also the author of the top-ten bestseller The Yorkshire Shepherdess. Amanda lives and works at Ravenseat, a hill farm of 2,000 acres, which she shares with 1000 sheep, nine children, four dogs, and one husband. Not to mention chickens, pigs, cows, horses and an uncontrollable goat and a vole who has taken up residence in the living room. And she couldn’t be happier.
As well as looking after her animals and children, Amanda sells cream teas to walkers who stop at her farm on the Coast to Coast walk. Amanda’s farm Ravenseat is halfway along the 192 mile journey, which 16,000 people walk every year bringing new faces and stories to the farm each day.
Amanda also runs James Herriot tours for fans of the books, who visit her farm to see a way of life that hasn’t changed for decades. Amanda has also set up a traditional shepherds hut on the farm for couples wanting to experience a real country get away. After an encounter during a storm, Amanda now also counts former BBC Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury as one of her good friends.
Amanda originally grew up in Huddersfield but was inspired by the James Herriot books to leave her town life behind and head to the countryside. After learning her craft as a freelance shepherdess, cow milker and alpaca shearer, she eventually settled down as a farmer's wife with her own flock of sheep at Ravenseat. Happily married with nine children, she wouldn't change a thing about her hectic but rewarding life.
Follow on Twitter @AmandaOwen8 or visit the Ravenseat website
My thanks to Olivia at Midas PR for sending me a review copy of
A Year in the Life of a Yorkshire Shepherdess
and for the invitation to be part of this blog tour.
Follow the blog tour on Twitter #yorkshireshepherdess