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The Dogs of Windcutter Down: One Shepherd's…
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The Dogs of Windcutter Down: One Shepherd's Struggle for Survival

by David Kennard

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I liked both of the books by this author. A real life look at farming from one who does it for a living. Makes me grateful for my life and for this author's sharing. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
This is the second book by David Kennard, describing his working life as one of the few remaining shepherds working the sheep in North Devon. This book deals with the immediate aftermath of the Foot and Mouth outbreak, where farms all around Kennard's had seen their livestock decimated by the disease and then culled to prevent further spread.

In this book more than the first, Kennard really opens your eyes to the many vagaries of fate that will affect the profit to be earned. Here he struggles with low prices thanks to Foot and Mouth, and varying diseases that he has to treat over the course of the year. He also suffers the breaking down of the only farm tractor; one of his older dogs suffers a tumour which thankfully is benign; and one of his flocks is threatened by loose dogs. He also sees a number of his fellow shepherds give up the game for good.

With that backdrop of gloom, you'd think the book would be rather disheartening to read, but Kennard manages to find the humour in many situations and presents a life that, though extremely hard, is extremely rewarding.

The characters of both his children and dogs are greatly developed in this second book, and it is lovely to see them grow up - especially his rather solemn son, Nick.

Out of the dogs, Ernie makes me laugh a great deal, while Greg's descent into old age is heartbreaking. As a working dog, he now only has a couple of seasons left where he is effective, and Kennard describes the difficult decision of trying to replace his best dog with sensitivity and great sadness.

I thoroughly enjoyed this rather simplistic account of shepherding life. It was never going to be a literary classic, but does what it says on the tin very effectively. For those who have enjoyed similar tales by such authors as James Herriot, it will be a welcome addition to the bookshelves. ( )
  magemanda | Nov 4, 2009 |
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For the children who brighten Borough Farm: Kate, Jemima, Callum, Ros, Frances, Anna, Leanne and Frances L. But most of all Clare, Laura and Nick.
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A wicked blast of Atlantic wind wrenched the gate from my hand and sent it crashing shut.
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'And I bet you don't know how important to us you lot have just become,' I said, as I gave Swift, Gail, Fern, Ernie and Jake a ruffle as well.
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'There is no good flock without a good shepherd, and no good shepherd without good dogs'. These age-old words of wisdom have always guided Devon sheep farmer David Kennard. But as he battles to save his farm from extinction, they resonate more loudly - and unexpectedly - than ever. Originally published: 2005.… (more)

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