Saturday, 3 March 2018

The Ish Mother Reads: 'A Year In The Life Of The Yorkshire Shepherdess'

When we bought our first home, it overlooked a farm. I would often look out of the bedroom window at the sheep and cows in the fields, and daydream about being a farmer.

Of course my aversion to early mornings and bad weather made this an unrealistic career for me, but still I retained a fascination with the rural life. And I've always been fascinated by large families - if I didn't suck at being pregnant, I'd love more kids.

So when I heard about Amanda Owen, who lives and works on a remote farm with her impressive brood, I was fascinated by her. When I saw she'd written a book about her life I couldn't wait to read it. At the time of writing the book she'd just had her eighth child, I believe she now has nine! I really wanted to find out about how looking after that many children, living in a remote area and working at a very demanding job was even possible.


The book follows the course of a year, with a chapter for each month. My romanticised notions of farming life drifted further and further away with each month - it soon becomes clear that the work is relentless. Every month brings a new job to do, and honestly, I don't know how she and her husband do it! Even the proverbial 'making hay' sounds like exhausting work!

I found all the different aspects of farming work really interesting to read about, though, and some of the anecdotes Amanda includes in the book are really absorbing, either because of the humour or sadness of the situation. She doesn't shy away from the realities of working with animals - those realities regularly include death - but nor is she completely cold about it. You can really tell how much she loves her animals, especially those which she is particularly close too.

I have to admit though, at times I found this book quite a tough read. Some of the anecdotes she includes have a feel of 'you had to be there' about them and never really go anywhere. And while of course real life doesn't always have a natural climax to a story, these parts did make for tedious reading. I actually read the book over a period of months because there were times when I'd finish a section and not feel particularly inspired to carry on.

I'd say this is a really good book for anyone wanting to learn more about the farming life, either through curiosity or pipe dreams, but just be prepared for the odd patch of boredom as you read. That said, learning about Amanda's family was a joy, even though it made me feel massively inadequate for only having two and barely managing to keep them happy and entertained!!

Linking up with #ReadWithMe hosted by Mama Mummy Mum.

MamaMummyMum


9 comments:

  1. Oh I know I couldn't do the work they do, I struggle to get up before 6am!! Thanks for sharing with #readwithme

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    1. Actually given how early my toddler wakes up I think he may be destined from the farming life!!

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  2. I have never aspired to being a farmer but this sounds like an interesting read. I guess that when they're old enough Amanda's children help out on the farm in some way too.

    #ReadWithMe

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    1. Yes, the older children help out an impressive amount and even some of the younger ones have jobs to do. I don't know how she persuades them to do it though, my 6 year old would be having none of it!!

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  3. My mum saw her speak at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and bought the book. She's been promising to lend it to me, but I think my life might be a bit too short for the boring bits!

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    1. It is a good book but yes, some of the anecdotes did slow me down a bit!! I hear she's a very good speaker.

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  4. Sounds an interesting read, even with the tedious parts. It has brought back memories from my childhood when one of the many occupations I wanted to be when I grew up was a farmer. Since I am now scared of cows, I do hope it would have been arable in my case #readwithme

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    1. Haha, yes I think a few of us probably like the idea of the farming life but wouldn't much like the reality!!

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  5. I've heard so much about this family but not read the book. I'm intrigued about how they manage to run a farm and raise such a big family too so I'm sure I'd enjoy this one. #Readwithme

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