The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape

The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 1250060265

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A major new talent redefines the literature of rural life.
Old world met new when a shepherd in the English Lake District impulsively started a Twitter account. A routine cell phone upgrade left author James Rebanks with a pretty decent camera and a pre-loaded Twitter app--the tools to share his way of life with the world. And what began as a tentative experiment became an international phenomenon.
James has worked the land for years, as did his father, and his father before him. His family has lived and farmed in the Lake District of Northern England as long as there have been written records (since 1420) and possibly much longer. And while the land itself has inspired great poets and authors we have rarely heard from the people who tend it. One Twitter account has changed all that, and now James Rebanks has broken free of the 140-character limit and produced "the book I have wanted to write my whole life.""The Shepherd's Life "is a memoir about growing up amidst a magical, storied landscape, of coming of age in the 1980s and 1990s among hills that seem timeless, and yet suffused with history. Broken into the four seasons, the book chronicles the author's daily experiences at work with his flock and brings alive his family and their ancient way of life, which at times can seem irreconcilable with the modern world.
An astonishing original work, "The Shepherd's Life" is an intimate look from inside a seemingly ordinary life, one that celebrates the meaning of place, the ties of family to the land around them, and the beauty of the past. It is the untold story of the Lake District, of a people who exist and endure out of sight in the midst of the most iconic literary landscape in the world.

"From the Hardcover edition.""

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fells with a lamb of value in the autumn. Recent scientific research has shown that Herdwicks are genetically rather special, they have in them a primitive genome that few other British sheep carry. Their nearest relatives are in Sweden, Finland, Iceland and the northern islands of Orkney. It is believed that the Herdwicks’ ancestors lived on the islands of the Wadden Sea, near the Frisian Islands, or further north in Scandinavia. Local myth has it that they came with the Vikings on their boats,

out petrol fumes to add to the sweat and the dust of the hay. I lowered the bales on to the elevator from the trailer and they departed into the darkness of the old barn, then another bale and ever onwards. At midday we both remarked on how little air there was; we knew that after our picnic and bottles of orange squash were gone, we would be out of drink. But after half an hour lying in the shade we recovered and went back for the other half of the bales in the hay field. We got ever sweatier

earlier to make it easier for the ram to get them pregnant (think removing woolly knickers). Then we dip them, worm them and give them a mineral supplement and a dose to prevent liver fluke disease. A pre-natal MOT, if you like. Our job now is to ensure that the ewes are mated to the right tups so that they are a) in-lamb, and b) in-lamb to the right tup to produce the best possible offspring the following spring. We call it ‘lowsing the tups’. At its simplest, it is just about putting a ram, or

Judgements are made about relatively minor issues because self-respecting breeders rarely put a poor sheep in front of the inspectors. ‘It’s a shame but his teeth are just slightly over the edge of his pad … I think we’ll have to turn him down …’ ‘By he’s a good tup, but you’d have to say that leg is a little bit twined [twisted]. I don’t think we can pass him … Sorry, lad.’ Being one of the inspectors calls for the diplomatic skills of Henry Kissinger. You risk upsetting the breeder if you

rocky crags, and all surrounded by endless miles of walls that track up the fell sides and carve the valley bottom into irregularly shaped meadows. As you approach each farm, the ‘coordinator’ who lives in the same valley will tell you about the history of the farm and the family so that you understand the people and place before you. ‘This was once one of the greatest Herdwick farms … my father said there wasn’t another flock to match it … But the son was no good … when he left, the National

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