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The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches…
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The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape (2015)

by James Rebanks

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4641832,041 (4.08)53
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English (17)  Dutch (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
This was such a nice book to have with me on a recent holiday. James Rebanks is descended from shepherds, is very proud of his family history and takes great pleasure in sharing some of that history with his readers. A man closer to his grandfather than his father, the stories are all centered around his family and the family farm in the northern Lake District of England. The sheep they farm are all descendants themselves, of flocks that have grazed the fells for generations. I enjoyed reading how these hardy sheep practically look after themselves and teach their lambs to recognise and return to their home fell every year. James obviously has a deep love of his farm and is proud of the old farming ways that continue still, through the fell farms of today. You wouldn't think sheep farming could be an interesting topic to read about for someone who is a city dweller, but it was! I guess any topic, written about by someone who truely loves what they're talking about, will be. James Rebanks also holds an Oxford degree and works from his farm as an advisor to UNESCO on sustainable tourism. I chuckled and loved hearing that when he drops the O word into a conversation, people change their attitude, start looking at him with interest and pay him a little more attention than they were perviously paying him as farmer joe! ( )
1 vote Fliss88 | Jul 8, 2018 |
The author of this book got off to a bad start. He described himself as a school boy and he was exactly the kind of wise cracking, rude, disinterested oaf that made my school days a misery. I recognise quite a lot of the traits of the bullies that picked on those of us who did want to pay attention and make something of our lives. It didn't bode well. I spent the entire rest of the book feel that the author had a chip on his shoulder. That he thinks I and those like me are, somehow, beneath his contempt. That because we made different life choices and chose not to do exactly what our parents had that we have, somehow, betrayed our past. He gives the impression that because he is taking on a job that his family have performed for generations that he is owed something by those of us that have moved away from the land. He seems to resent us wanting to visit the countryside and invade his Lakeland landscape. He even appears to resent someone else having an emotional response to the landscape he gives the impression should be exclusively reserved for those that work it.

It didn't read as a book, more a series of assorted thoughts that sometimes flowed in an order but usually leapt from topic to topic in a seemingly disconnected manner. It has a logical sequence, with sections labelled with the various seasons, although that is not entirely followed and the reminiscences are dotted around and don;t always follow in a sequence that is apparent to the reader.

This was a particularly depressing experience and I don;t wish to spend much more time in the author's company. This one is heading to the book sale. ( )
1 vote Helenliz | Oct 23, 2017 |
Solid farmer's autobiography. Lovely short chapters and photographs. ( )
  2wonderY | Oct 16, 2017 |
Although I have never been to the Lake District in England, and have had little contact with sheep, I loved this book. James Rebanks comes from a long line of sheep farmers who have worked with sheep on the same land for many generations. This is a book about continuity, and in that sense it represents a refreshing voice in today's ever-changing work culture. The writing is poetic; you feel like you are walking in the author's shoes. I was grateful that he discussed his profession honestly, including the incredibly hard labor required for little financial compensation. He also spoke to the issue of defining intelligence, particularly when it involves those who work in 'hands-on' professions. There is a lot of meat (pardon the pun) in this little book. I would very highly recommend it. ( )
  peggybr | Aug 31, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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Towards the head of these Dales was found a perfect Republic of Shepherds and Agriculturalists, among whom the plough of each man was confined to the maintenance of his own family, or to the occasional accommodation of his neighbour. Two or three cows furnished each family with milk and cheese. The chapel was the only edifice that presided over these dwellings, the supreme head of this pure Commonwealth; the members of which existed in the midst of a powerful empire, like an ideal society or an organized community, whose constitution had been imposed and regulated by the mountains which protected it. Neither high-born nobleman, knight, nor esquire was here; but many of these humble sons of the hills had a consciousness that the land, which they walked over and tilled, had for more than five hundred years been possessed by men of their name and blood... William Wordsworth, A Guide Through the District of the Lakes in the North of England (1810)
Dedication
Dedicated to the memory of my grandfather,
W.H. Rebanks,
and with respect to my father,
T.W. Rebanks
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I realized we were different, really different, on a rainy morning in 1987.
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Some people's lives are entirely their own creations. James Rebanks' isn't. The first son of a shepherd, who was the first son of a shepherd himself, his family have lived and worked in the Lake District of Northern England for generations, further back than recorded history. It's a part of the world known mainly for its romantic descriptions by Wordsworth and the much loved illustrated children's books of Beatrix Potter. But James' world is quite different. His way of life is ordered by the seasons and the work they demand. It hasn't changed for hundreds of years: sending the sheep to the fells in the summer and making the hay; the autumn fairs where the flocks are replenished; the grueling 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 hills and valleys.… (more)

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