Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess

Yorkshire Festival of Story

AMANDA Owen first came to the public’s attention when she and her family featured in the TV programme, ‘’The Yorkshire Dales’.

The story of life on their remote hill farm so captured the hearts and imagination of the public that Channel 5 commissioned a series about life on the farm, ‘Our Yorkshire Farm’ .

She has also diversified into writing books about her life but this was her first live on line broadcast, and the fact that it was watched by over 1,300 people world wide says a tremendous amount about her popularity and the way that the public are fascinated by her life-style choices.

Amanda is a relaxed and natural presenter, so that the overall tone was as if you were sitting chatting to her over a cup of tea in the kitchen.

Not that she’d ever have time to sit and chat in that way, for her busy day begins at 6am and she regards it as a positive if everything is done by 9pm with an average day involving raising nine children and doing her share on the farm to take care of a flock of 1,000 sheep.

She also now makes time to write. She claims that she does try to be efficient but finds it an ongoing battle, so settles for making sure that the kids are happy and accepts that some things will go wrong. Her positivity and sincerity are obvious when she talks, seeing the best in all situations and accepting that things won’t necessarily go to plan but that they are still worth trying.

It was this attitude which led her as a child, inspired by James Herriot’s books to aspire to be a shepherdess. An unusual choice for someone growing up in Huddersfield.

She began work freelancing as a dairy milker and general hand and worked up to being a shepherdess by learning on the job. She met her husband, Clive, when collecting a tup and married and moved to Ravenseat in 2000.

When talking about their tenant farm, in one of the most remote places in England, and her family she glows with pride and happiness. Clearly a life which most people would find daunting is one which fills her with joy.

Accompanying her talk was a stunning slide show, including examples of her own work as well as scenes from farm life and from the filming of the series. Of the TV series she says only that it has made life busier but that it is always authentic, nothing is ever staged for the camera - instead they just record what happens. In many ways this is a keynote in her way of life, nothing is over-planned and as a result when events happen it is just a case of getting on with it.

The documentary is not about rural idylls, it is about what actually happens and nothing is ever scripted.

It is this which gives it its integrity. This genuine nature and total sincerity made for an engaging encounter with a lady who has certainly achieved her dream, even if it is one which many in our society might regard as more of a nightmare.

Gill O’Donnell