Book review

The Shepherd’s Life: A People’s History of the Lake District by James Rebanks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The account of sheep farming in James Rebanks’ book is authentic living history. He keeps the traditions of his father and grandfather alive and feels a connection to those who farmed the same land over, possibly, thousands of years. The accounts of hefted ewes and well bred tups are fascinating. I was filled with admiration for the energy and passion which he is pouring into his farm.

There was just one thing bothering me, as I finished the book. He is talking about farming marginal land, in a time when, shockingly, there is no market for wool, and UK consumption per capita of lamb’s meat has been falling. When we are faced with a crisis of biodiversity in these desperate times of climate change, shouldn’t James be considering returning this land to nature? Would he be able to “betray” his forbears by changing his way of farming?

This morning I turned on the radio and there was a programme on Radio 4, Could I Regenerate My Farm to Save the Planet, hosted by James Rebanks. He was examining the role of regenerative agriculture. I was excited, but anxious that he might find that there wasn’t a good enough case for him to do this on his land. I was thrilled when he said he was going to give it a try. (You can find this item on BBC Sounds if you are interested)

Good luck James Rebanks! Your grandchildren will be as proud of you as you are of your grandfather. Please write the book about it when you have time. It will be top of my list to read!




View all my reviews

By helenstephensonauthor

Author of SIDNEY DELICIOUS: the memoir of a Spanish rescue dog

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