The Shepherd's Life

Episodes

EpisodeFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
012015041320200120 (BBC7)
20200121 (BBC7)

Some people's lives are entirely their own creations. James Rebanks's isn't. The first son of a shepherd, who was the first son of a shepherd himself, he and his family have lived and worked in and around the Lake District for generations.

It's a life lived according to the demands of the seasons: sending the sheep to the fells in the summer and making the hay; the autumn fairs where the flocks are replenished; the gruelling toil of winter when the sheep must be kept alive, and the light-headedness that comes with spring, as the lambs are born and the sheep get ready to return to the fells.

Through his eyes, we see that the Lake District is not a playground or a scenic backdrop, it's a working landscape that needs sheep and its farmers to survive.

James Rebanks has a huge following on Twitter (using his moniker: @herdyshepherd1) where you can see photographs detailing day to day life on the farm - including his fine flock of Herdwick sheep and, the latest additions to the workforce, sheepdog Floss's ten puppies.

Read by Bryan Dick
Written by James Rebanks
Abridged by Sian Preece
Produced by Kirsteen Cameron

Music details:
Track: "The Nightshift"
CD: Country Escape
Label: BBC Production Music BBCPM031.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2015.

James Rebanks's powerful account of growing up in a farming family in the Lake District.

By James Rebanks. Emotional account of growing up in a farming family in the Lake District

022015041420200121 (BBC7)
20200122 (BBC7)

After his grandfather's death, James Rebanks's family face a difficult financial decision about the farm.

James Rebanks is the first son of a shepherd, who was the first son of a shepherd himself, he and his family have lived and worked in and around the Lake District for generations.

An increasingly marginalised and precarious livelihood - it costs £1 to sheer a sheep, yet each fleece is worth only 40p - Rebanks' anger at the way small farmers are treated, and his passion for continuing his ancestors way of life, is palpable. Through his eyes, we see that the Lake District is not a playground or a scenic backdrop, it's a working landscape that needs sheep and its farmers to survive.

James Rebanks has a huge following on Twitter @herdyshepherd1 where you can see photographs detailing day to day life on the farm - including his fine flock of Herdwick sheep and, the latest additions to the workforce, sheepdog Floss's ten puppies.

Read by Bryan Dick

Written by James Rebanks
Abridged by Sian Preece

Producer: Kirsteen Cameron.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2015.

James's family face a difficult decision to keep the farm out of debt.

By James Rebanks. Emotional account of growing up in a farming family in the Lake District

032015041520200122 (BBC7)
20200123 (BBC7)

Clashing with his father, James Rebanks gains a place at Oxford University, but misses the farming life.

James Rebanks is the first son of a shepherd, who was the first son of a shepherd himself, he and his family have lived and worked in and around the Lake District for generations.

Small scale farming is an increasingly precarious livelihood, it's almost impossible to earn enough money to bring up a family, you need a secondary income. And so, as disagreements with his father intensified, James, aged twenty-one, decided to return to education, resulting in a place at Oxford. All the time he was away, he longed to be back home, working on the fells.

James Rebanks has a huge following on Twitter ( as the @herdyshepherd1 ) where you can see photographs detailing day to day life on the farm - including his fine flock of Herdwick sheep and, the latest additions to the workforce, sheepdog Floss's ten puppies.

Read by Bryan Dick

Written by James Rebanks
Abridged by Sian Preece

Producer: Kirsteen Cameron.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2015.

Clashing with his father, James returns to education and gains a place at Oxford.

By James Rebanks. Emotional account of growing up in a farming family in the Lake District

042015041620200123 (BBC7)
20200124 (BBC7)

James Rebanks recalls the dark days of 2001, facing the horror of foot-and-mouth disease.

James is the first son of a shepherd, who was the first son of a shepherd himself, he and his family have lived and worked in and around the Lake District for generations.

In this episode, he remembers the dark days of 2001, when farmers faced the horror of Foot and Mouth disease. From the loss came something unexpected: a neighbour's kindness led him to breed pure Herdwick sheep.

James Rebanks has a huge following on Twitter (he's the @herdyshepherd1 ) where you can see photographs detailing day to day life on the farm - including his fine flock of Herdwick sheep and, the latest additions to the workforce, sheepdog Floss's ten puppies.

Read by Bryan Dick

Written by James Rebanks
Abridged by Sian Preece

Producer: Kirsteen Cameron.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2015.

By James Rebanks. Emotional account of growing up in a farming family in the Lake District

052015041720200124 (BBC7)
20200125 (BBC7)

Spring is the farmer's reward for the hard days of winter - and in this final episode, the cycle of the year begins again, as James Rebanks prepares for lambing.

The first son of a shepherd, who was himself the first son of a shepherd, James and his family have lived and worked in and around the Lake District for generations. Through his eyes we see that the Lake District is not a playground or a scenic backdrop, it's a working landscape that needs sheep and its farmers to survive.

Concluded by Bryan Dick

Written by James Rebanks
Abridged by Sian Preece

Producer: Kirsteen Cameron

Music details:
Track: "The Nightshift"
CD: Country Escape
Label: BBC Production Music BBCPM031.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2015.

Lake District shepherd James Rebanks prepares for lambing season.

By James Rebanks. Emotional account of growing up in a farming family in the Lake District