Country Smallholding

Shep­herd gains in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence

- * By Deb­bie Kings­ley who tweets from @SouthYeoFa­rm and set up @Small­hold­er­sUK

This month: So­phie Barnes

So­phie Barnes is 23 and a first gen­er­a­tion shep­herd. Her in­ter­est in sheep was sparked at the age of 16 when she was on work ex­pe­ri­ence and helped birth her first lamb. “It was 3am and freez­ing cold. A lamb was com­ing with only one leg out! It seemed like the most pet­ri­fy­ing thing. I was go­ing to get it wrong. The lamb would die. The sheep too... I reached in, got the leg round and pulled the not-so-wee lamb out. I placed him in front of Mum and then that’s when the sparky-lights, magic mu­sic, life chang­ing mo­ment hap­pened. It was then and there that I re­alised that I wanted to be a sheep farmer for the rest of my life.”

“I knew I wanted to be a farmer, but didn’t know how to get around to it. I did months of bar work and twid­dled my thumbs. And then one day, my step­mum no­ticed an ad­vert for a lamb as­sis­tant. It was a farm in Cum­bria and that job taught me a lot; af­ter all, not much fazes you af­ter 5,400 sheep lamb­ing in five weeks! I was then well and truly hooked on sheep farming and got my own lit­tle flock of Castlemilk Moorits on some rented land.”

Mean­while, So­phie gained more ex­pe­ri­ence on Europe’s big­gest or­ganic sheep dairy, in Dorset. In the last four years she’s done con­tract lamb­ing in the UK, Ger­many and Canada, and then de­cided that to gain the ex­pe­ri­ence she needed, New Zealand would of­fer the best ed­u­ca­tion, so she had to sell her flock. “I was trav­el­ling to study sheep farming, but I had no stock of my own, and that felt bizarre. I won­dered if I’d done the right thing sell­ing up my flock. Find­ing out about the dif­fer­ent meth­ods of farming will be an in­cred­i­ble insight and a huge learn­ing curve for me. But I now know that what­ever comes my way, I’ll al­ways re­turn to hands- on sheep farming.”

Do check out So­phie’s on­go­ing fas­ci­nat­ing saga. See @Sheep­ishSo­phie and web­site https://theshep­herdessabr­oad. word­

 ??  ?? @small­hold­er­sUK UK Smallholde­rs are pro­filed week by week on twit­ter
@small­hold­er­sUK UK Smallholde­rs are pro­filed week by week on twit­ter @Small­hold­er­sUK

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