Demotix.com The Network for Freelance Photojournalists 30,000 contributors. 212 territories. Photos. Videos. News.

The tweeting shepherdess of Swaledale connects to the world

The tweeting shepherdess of Swaledale connects to the world
01/05
Caption
Teaching the pet lambs to drink from bottles. The shepherdess has been sharing both the hardships and the uplifting experiences of running a hill farm.
The tweeting shepherdess of Swaledale connects to the world
02/05
Caption
The wild and remote upper Swaledale area. Tiny bit of remaining snow even at the end of April/start of May.
The tweeting shepherdess of Swaledale connects to the world
03/05
Caption
Dog at work.
The tweeting shepherdess of Swaledale connects to the world
04/05
Caption
The farm at Ravenseat. The shepherdess has been sharing both the hardships and the uplifting experiences of running a hill farm.
The tweeting shepherdess of Swaledale connects to the world
05/05
Caption
Feeding time for the ewes waiting for delivery day.
  • The tweeting shepherdess of Swaledale connects to the world
  • The tweeting shepherdess of Swaledale connects to the world
  • The tweeting shepherdess of Swaledale connects to the world
  • The tweeting shepherdess of Swaledale connects to the world
  • The tweeting shepherdess of Swaledale connects to the world

A shepherdess has been sharing both the hardships and the uplifting experiences of running a hill farm in one of England’s most remote locations by using the power of Twitter to connect with people around the world.

A shepherdess has been sharing both the hardships and the uplifting experiences of running a hill farm in one of England’s most remote locations by using the power of Twitter to connect with people around the world.

Amanda Owen is getting used to being interviewed for media appearances. Being based literally miles from anywhere, the remote farm in the Upper Swaledale area of North Yorkshire might seem an unlikely hub of press and television interest but it’s a location already familiar to viewers of The Dales television series presented by Adrian Edmondson as well as walkers following the famous Coast to Coast trail.

When I arrive on a dark and drizzly afternoon it turns out to be just days after she’s finished talking to the makers of the Countryfile programme and the crew from BBC Look North have been to interview her about the local campaign to save the nearest hospital from closure.

Many people have got to know about Amanda and life on the farm with her six children and 900 sheep via her regular tweets and remain keen to hear how the farm has fared over the winter - the snow there only melted a few weeks ago.

“I thought it was a great way to quickly keep in touch with the outside world. I mean here, don’t get me wrong, is a very busy place, but it is nice to talk to people from all over. You have to be succinct you only have 140 characters and you can post up pictures and explain to people how it all works on the farm.”

Followers of @AmandaOwen8 the horse-riding shepherdess have been able to see pictures of the new lambs arriving, catch-up with the six children helping out and get to understand what’s entailed in a modern day sheep farm.

In these parts, harsh weather isn’t a news event, it’s a lifestyle, and Amanda is proud to tell me how the flock survived the snow and ice.

“It was well forecast and we went out and brought them down. We are used to it.”

So the 900 sheep were taken to the lower ground and kept safe from the drifting snow in the substantial barns but now the lambing season is upon them, the knock-on impact of having animals which would usually be munching tender spring grass is starting to show.

The number of lambs needing to be hand-reared has increased dramatically, not because their mothers have died, but because they haven’t had sufficient fresh grass to produce enough milk. Feeding both the lambs and the ewes replacement food called cake is a heavy cost for the farm and one which has seen the market for these so-called ‘pet lambs’ plummet to its current level of £2 for six animals.

“It’s been really difficult, we’ve been feeding them a lot of cake. There’s times when we are here and look out of the window and you don’t know whether feeding them is a good or a bad thing as they have to come out of the shelter to eat. It’s not easy but we were really pleased with the way our stock is looking and they’ve lambed really good strong lambs but it’s a question of keeping them going now.”

The family’s journey will continue to be chronicled on Twitter, and on TV with a new series of The Dales coming. In addition Amanda has a book deal to write about the changing seasons and daily life which is expected to be released around Christmas time - but not before the arrival of the seventh member of the family. Amanda is expecting a baby this June.

It might sound an exhausting workload but for Amanda it’s the achievement of her life’s ambition to farm and share that passion.

“People are showing more interest in farming now and the horsemeat scandal has meant people want to know where their meat is from. I believe people would be happy to know that the animals have been looked after and see the effort that has been put into producing it. I can be 100 per cent confident that sheep here have had a good life.”

Submitted by
Disclaimer

Please note: the text contained in "The tweeting shepherdess of Swaledale connects to the world" has not been corrected, edited or verified by Demotix and is the raw text submitted by the photojournalist. All views and opinions expressed are that of the independent photojournalist and do not represent the views of Demotix Ltd. These details have been included in order to provide as much information as possible to the Media buyer.