Adventures of The Yorkshire Shepherdess by Amanda Owen: an ancient, rural way of life guaranteed to enchant readers both young and old - book review -

Adventures of The Yorkshire Shepherdess
Adventures of The Yorkshire Shepherdess
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For two decades, shepherdess, farmer’s wife and mother-of-nine Amanda Owen has been living her rural dream at Ravenseat, a hill farm at the top of Swaledale in North Yorkshire, a place that has seen so much life during its almost one-thousand-year existence.

How lucky we are to call this little corner of Yorkshire our home.’

For two decades, shepherdess, farmer’s wife and mother-of-nine Amanda Owen has been living her rural dream at Ravenseat, a hill farm at the top of Swaledale in North Yorkshire, a place that has seen so much life during its almost one-thousand-year existence.

Owen grew up in Huddersfield but was inspired by the James Herriot books to leave her town life behind and head to the countryside. After working as a freelance shepherdess, cow milker and alpaca shearer, she eventually settled down as wife to farmer Clive Owen at Ravenseat with her own flock of sheep.

Her large and happy family are the stars of Channel 5’s Our Yorkshire Farm and have appeared in ITV’s The Dales and in Ben Fogle’s New Lives in the Wild. Voted Yorkshirewoman of the Year by the Dalesman magazine, Owen is also author of bestsellers The Yorkshire Shepherdess and A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess, and now she brings us another warm, funny and enthralling chapter in her hectic but rewarding life.

Juggling the chaos of farming and family life is what Owen does best and there are always surprises along the way as she cares for her nine children aged between two and 18, two terriers, a puppy, a host of sheepdogs, an amorous peacock, ‘too many hens to count,’ three horses, an aged pony, a small herd of cows and about one thousand sheep.

It’s a traditional way of life that Owen relishes and throughout the summer months she takes responsibility for guests staying in the farm’s shepherd’s hut and caters for the stream of walkers who call in to enjoy her al fresco afternoon teas.

Adventures of The Yorkshire Shepherdess is full of the dramas and everyday realities of living in what can be an inhospitable part of the Dales as we follow the family’s desperate race to save a calf that goes missing after its mother mysteriously dies and Owen’s discovery that her bra has been repurposed as a house martin’s nest.

There is also the fun and adventure of taking the younger children to try out wild swimming in the river at Boggle Hole near Robin Hood’s Bay during last year’s hot summer, and the brutal winter later in the year that almost brought Owen to her knees.

But as busy as she is with her family and flock of sheep, Owen also embarks on an exciting new project... a project that will remove a worry that has often kept her awake at night as she wonders and worries about the future.

Ravenseat is part of an estate and has been for centuries, meaning that it is a tenant farm and may not stay in the family. Over the years, the idea of buying a permanent home for the family in their beloved Swaledale took root and when Owen discovered a nearby farmhouse, belonging to friends, was up for sale, she knew it was her chance to create roots for her children.

With help and goodwill, they bought The Firs, an old, traditional farmhouse in need of a lot of renovation, with the aim of turning it into a holiday let. But pregnant, with money tight, and needing the house to be up and running as a let as soon as possible, Owen set about doing a lot of the work herself.

Add on some choice of colour shade clashes with Brother Francis, an eccentric monk on sabbatical in a local bed and breakfast who has offered his services as a painter and decorator, misadventures with a visiting plumber… and Clive, of course, and it’s fair to say that things do not go according to plan!

Evocative, enlightening, endlessly entertaining and set in a breathtaking landscape, this is an ancient, rural way of life guaranteed to enchant readers both young and old.

(Macmillan, hardback, £16.99)