Wednesday, 10 February 2016


I am posting early today as I have a busy day.   As part of my campaign (suggested by my physio) to lose a stone in weight in order to give my bad ankle a little less weight to support, I have cut out all sweet things and am using far more vegetables in my cooking.   So there is sweet potato and carrot soup to make and red peppers to stuff for lunch.    Then I have my exercise class at 1.30 this afternoon, followed by a visit to the optician for my new specs which are ready for collection (and very expensive too) and then a visit to the Medical Practice to organise a long appointment for my annual check-up (suggested by them I feel fine and would not have bothered otherwise.)

But following on from yesterday's post about jobs and 'horses for courses' I wonder how many of you in the UK watched the programme the night before last about the sheep farmer husband and wife on the Raby Estates in Weardale.

Weardale, for readers from further afield, is North of here and for North read 'higher', 'bleaker', 'less populated' and a jolly sight colder for much of the year.   

Here a husband and wife, tenant farmers with three children (two girls and a boy all under twelve) keep Swaledale sheep and a few beef cattle.   And by golly do they work hard.   They make a living - that is all that can be said.   No great profits, just solid work seven days a week trying to breed the best Swaledale sheep so that farmers will be willing to pay more for sheep from their flock in order to improve their own flocks.

Their children, all of whom looked exceedingly healthy, and all of whom had witnessed birth and death and 'tupping' from an early age were so well-spoken and knowledgeable.   The little boy's description of how the tups are put to the ewes in early Autumn and how this produces lambs in late Spring was a delight to hear.

We saw them all - father, mother and children - working tirelessly through lambing, moving the flocks up on to the moor, moving them back down later in the year.   We witnessed shearing, various medical treatments, difficult births, dead sheep - the lot.

And we witnessed a good social life.   The hub of the whole year was the annual show, where the farmer carried off a huge number of cups and where all the family met up with other farmers for a good natter.

We also saw the children in the local school.   I was so impressed with the level of language among these children.   They were able to chat freely and their wealth of vocabulary was amazing.

Such an upliting film.   Do get to watch it if you missed it and it is on again.


Heather said...

Sadly, I missed that programme. That farmer and his wife must be remarkable parents as well as farmers, to work so hard yet ensure that their children get an excellent all-round education.
Hope the new specs are comfortable and I wish you success with your dieting. I should lose some weight too. I am not dieting as such, but am cutting out sweet and fatty foods. We always eat plenty of fruit and vegs anyway.

the veg artist said...

I saw this, and agree with you. I remember small-time farming here in West Wales, and know how hard it was too. When I met my husband (from the South East) he once said, loftily, "no such thing as a poor farmer"! If he did! People, mostly, have no idea how hard it can be, how farmers, their wives and children, all have to be out in all weathers. The stock comes first. Crops rely on weather. It all depends on health, strength, and a certain amount of knowledge and good luck, but, overall, a tremendous amount of hard work. This little film should be required watching for anyone who wants to buy a leg of lamb!

Elizabeth said...

What a lovely childhood for the children!
So much better than watching lots of videos!
Good luck with the diet. How very dreary.
I have started counting my steps when out walking - the phone does it for me -
keeps me very active so am a bit slimmer!

donna baker said...

Well Pat, you are an inspiration. Get her done. Period. No excuses. Love that. I reared my three children on a farm. It was wonderful for their work ethic and for my son especially, the love of animals and nature. My daughter-in-law grew up in the panhandle of Oklahoma or no man's land it is called. They farm 20,000 acres of wheat which is sold all over the world. Very isolated there. All are empathic children, (adults now) but none of them want to come back to live on or near the farm. They simply think it is too lonely with little for their and their children's future and income. I would have loved to have seen the program.

Wilma said...

I certainly don't have what it takes to be a farmer. I admire those who do farm. Wising you the best with the weight loss and health exam.

Derek Faulkner said...

Looking at the mini photo of you on your blog, I'd say, politely, that you look as though you need to put on weight, not lose it.

As for the farming programme, well that showed the real bottom end of farming, in all it's harsh and stark reality. They're the kind of couples that should get MBE's, they worked so hard to eek out a living in very harsh circumstances, absolutely felt for them. What a difference between them and Adam's almost luxurious farming life-style on Countryfile.
Also, what a fabulous education on life those children are getting - the whole programme should be shown in schools.

angryparsnip said...

I also have to lose weight, was going to start in January but I am so fatigued.
Must start now.
Wish I could have seen that farming programme, it sounds like something i would have enjoyed.
The people, countryside and the sheep.

cheers, parsnip

syrahsuzie said...

I saw the programme and was full of admiration for this family. I also noted how articulate the children were. It really showed how difficult farming is and how heart-breakong it can be.

Terry and Linda said...

Gosh, I wish we could see something like that here.


Rachel said...

I agree with Derek about your weight, you always look nice and slim in the few photographs I have seen of you. I would say that the physio is being a bit over the top saying lose a stone, that's a lot of weight for a slim Jim. Perhaps a few pounds but wow, I couldn't begin to know how to lose a stone. A few nice bits and pieces of sweet things make the days happy so carry on enjoying at least a little.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Good exercise, 12km of running for me today, and walk around the park. A farm upbringing must open your eyes to a lot of things.

Lilly's Mom said...

It sounds like a wonderful childhood.I was raised in a farming community and it was heaven on earth. I wish you well with your medical appt. Pat :)

Lilly's Mom said...

It sounds like a wonderful childhood.I was raised in a farming community and it was heaven on earth. I wish you well with your medical appt. Pat :)

Dartford Warbler said...

We watched the film, "Addicted to Sheep". It was so inspiring and how hard that family works to keep the farm and its traditions alive.

Good luck with the diet and extra exercise Pat, but don`t stop meeting all your friends for tea and (sometimes) cake. Life has to be worth living!

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

I love watching programmes about actual real life (as opposed to "reality tv" which is the farthest thing from it!). I grew up in the country and would love to see that show, but we don't get it here. I agree with an earlier comment that said you always seem very slim and trim in your pictures, so it is surprising that you were told to lose weight. Hope you have the necessary willpower! -Jenn

Frances said...

I admit that I had to research (not for the first time) the pound equivalent of a stone. That does sound like quite a bit of weight to lose. Perhaps if you approach the process in a gradual way, half a stone might be quite enough.

The television program you describe does sound like a good one. I wonder what city children without any access to a farm would make of the life depicted in the documentary. I'll bet that the farming family members didn't do much whining.

Best wishes. xo

Cro Magnon said...

We are usually fed such depressing information about present day school children, that it's good to hear about these ones. Of course inner-city schools have far greater problems to deal with compared to country schools.

Librarian said...

This sounds like a good program to watch. I wonder whether it's available online somewhere. Do you know its exact title? (Makes it easier to find.)

If you remember Adrian Edmondson's "The Dales" series from a few years ago, there were several farming families he visited throughout the year, too. I really liked that program.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Librarian - Dartford Warbler (above) has given us the title, which I couldn't remember. It is 'Addicted to Sheep'.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Seems that those of uswho saw the programme really enjoyed it. Certainly opened the eyes of anyone with a romantic view of it all.
I shall persevere with the weight thingy. Losing a stone will only bring me back to the weight I was when I married the farmer twenty two years ago. Luckily I don't like chocolate and am not at all bothered about cake - so it is a case of upping the salads.

thousandflower said...

Found info on this film, watched the trailer and bought the DVD. I'm eager to get it and watch it.