False eyelashes, ragged leggings, sheep to feed and nine children to tend. We join Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Livingston-Owen on the farm
Angela Leighton-Walton
After 40 minutes of twisting and turning up the many singletrack roads up to Ravenseat – the sheep farming home of Yorkshire Shepherdess, Amanda Livingston-Owen and husband Clive – there are no signs to say you’ve arrived. It’s clear though, by the number of go-karts, bicycles and kids’ tractors dotted around the front field, that you're most definitely in the vicinity of children. Nine children, to be precise.

A jiggle of the old cast iron bell at the front door signals a commotion inside as the door is flung open by a welcome party; a strikingly tall Amanda and the two tiniest of her brood, Clemmie, four and three-year old Nancy: ‘Come in, come in!’, she bellows over the sound of loud drilling from somewhere inside the rabbit warren of her Dales farmhouse. ‘I was going to try and tidy up for you coming but it just hasn’t happened,’ she shrugs, laughing.

The fire is blazing in the rustic living room with its low-beamed ceiling from which an old pulley drier hangs, draped in washing. The room is flanked by huge, leather sofas, a giant rocking horse, a Yorkshire spinning wheel, a clockwork spit roaster and a cheese press!

Two little girls beam up at me with the shiniest of eyes, Amanda asks a question she will come to repeat many times during the next couple of hours: ‘Do you want a cup of tea?’

We make our way into the kitchen where Clive is preparing to head off with a trailer of sheep: ‘Have you got a pie?’ Amanda asks him. ‘A pie?’ He replies. ‘No, no I haven’t, but don’t you worry I’ll see to that and I definitely won’t die,’ he jokes. ‘Have you got a flask?’ she continues, ignoring his wit. ‘Have you got your gloves? Have you got your licence?’ ‘No, no, no,’ he says ‘Anyway, you girls go and sit b’fire and get warm, don’t you worry about me.’

‘Do you want a cup of tea?’ Amanda hollers at the workman in the next room. ‘Clemmie, go and look in the fridge and see what’s there that you and Nancy would like to eat... get some radishes!’ she shouts, as they trot off to investigate.And so it goes on.

The woman is an accomplished organiser and nurturer of all who come to be at Ravenseat; husband, children, workmen, walkers, horses, journalists, cameramen and women, and of course, sheep by the hundreds. Whatever you are, you’re in very happy, capable hands in this family home.


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March 2020