Amanda Owen, 2014
The Yorkshire Shepherdess is a one of the best books I have read in a long time. It is a simple story about family and farm. It reminded me that the mundane every day things we encounter can be made interesting if we keep the right perspective. Life doesn’t need to be boring.
The story starts when Amanda is still young. She is entranced with animals of all kinds, but sheep in particular. She is very determined to become a shepherdess. Knowing she couldn’t just find a farm and take over, she started out by reading all she can on animal husbandry. She offered to help any and all farmers with whatever the needed doing. She mucked stalls, milked cows and delivered animals from one farm to another. All the time she was learning and adding to her experience.
One fateful evening she was asked to deliver a ram to Ravenseat farm out on the dales. It was dark and the road was long and desolate. At the end, she meets Clive Owen. He offers her tea, but all Amanda wants to do is get back on that lonesome drive home. He asks for her number and over the next while they get to know each other.
I don’t think it’s a spoiler to tell you that she marries him. How could she not? Look at that farm and the fact that it looks so peaceful and beautiful. She joined him on the farm and they raise sheep and children. Seven (children) to be exact, and only two of them were born in the hospital. She was a trooper with everything that came along with living far away from civilization and hospitals.
Ravenseat farm is at the halfway point on the Coast to Coast Walk, a 182 mile walk across Northern England. Amanda turned part of one of the barns into a place to rest for the walkers, and she began selling cream teas ( a light afternoon meal consisting of tea, scones, clotted cream and jam). She says most walkers show up about tea time and they were stopping by anyway, so she decided to make the best of it for them and herself!
A lot of the book is about the farm. Weather plays a huge role in farming in the Yorkshire Dales. Winters are long and dark and all the sheep (and other animals) need to be brought to the farm for safety. They raise Swaledale sheep, and are very particular about breeding to keep the line pure. The children help from a very young age with feeding the sheep and general farm work. Even on school mornings they are up and at it, before a two hour ride to school for the older ones!
This book totally captured my imagination and impressed me! First off, I love anything to do with England, and I loved learning how regular people live there! Secondly, it reminded me that there are still good people in the world. It seems we hear so much doom and gloom and this book was a light in the darkness. There are good people living good lives, happy with what they have.
If you are looking for a book to brighten your days, put this book on your ‘to be read’ list for this winter. Have you read (or heard of) The Yorkshire Shepherdess? Let me know in the comments what you are reading. I am always on the lookout for new favorites!