Today, we are in for a surprise.
I once met a double-deck sheep transporter off-loading at a junction of two narrow country lanes. Delighted to see it, and to find a working farm in Troutbeck Village. All along the village street there are stone-built barns and farm houses but how many of them are working farms these days? A sequence of stone wells beside the road, an abundant water supply for the village. All the changes of use these old buildings have seen as farming changes, as the tourist industry makes its mark. And the drove roads, the way of sheep with shepherds and their dogs walking the sheep long distances across country to market. Wool is my bread, Pannus Mihi Panis, is the motto of Kendal. Well, no Lake District hill farmer could have lived off sales of wool in recent years.
Over Christmas, there was a screening of Far From The Madding Crowd with Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene. Hardy's novel was published in 1874. The idea of a woman owning and running a farm! Far From The Madding Crowd: Hardy's farmers are not troubled by walkers wanting to walk through the farmyard when a flock is arriving. The fictitious Bathsheba Everdene cannot compare with the achievement of Beatrix Potter with her network of farms. She began breeding Herdwicks at Hill Top in 1906. An outstanding achievement, then there's her contribution to mycology, her study of fungi and her beautiful illustrations and the little matter of her best-selling books.
I hope the Cheviots at Troutbeck will settle in well. How might they be hefted to the fell, I wonder? That secret knowledge that a flock of sheep passes on through the generations, their intimate knowledge of their habitat that enables them to thrive in a challenging landscape.