Having attracted admirers of her photography on social media, a North Yorkshire farmer has compiled her pictures of the beautiful scenery at the remote farm she calls home in a new calendar.
Known as the Yorkshire Shepherdess, Amanda Owen has been sharing snaps of the dramatic effects of the changing seasons at her hill farm in the heart of Swaledale since joining micro-blogging website Twitter in February 2012.
Her pictures, which also tell of the challenges of raising seven children with her husband Clive at 2,000-acre Ravenseat Farm, have proved so popular that more than 9,000 people follow her tweets.
Mrs Owen and her family’s starring role in the ITV television series The Dales initially drew her an online following but it was the frequent tweets of encouragement which led the shepherdess to publish a 2015 calendar, featuring some of her best shots, with South Wales-based Graffeg Publishing.
The amateur photographer has also documented her life in a book which was published in April. ‘The Yorkshire Shepherdess’ spent five weeks in the Sunday Times Top 10 Bestsellers list and is due to be published in paperback by Pan Books in February 2015.
Speaking about her calendar, Mrs Owen said: “I am absolutely delighted and feel honoured to be given the opportunity to show people a glimpse of my life as a hill shepherdess in this remote, but beautiful part of the world that I love.
“Life at Ravenseat is not easy, with the beautiful but bleak, harsher months of winter, but it is balanced by the joys of spring and early summer, with lambs being born and the birds returning.”
As in the case of Mrs Owen, social media has proved a useful tool for farmers to promote what they do and where they live. And it is also helpful for maintaining social connections and for promoting rural crime prevention, according to Richard Pearson, regional director of the National Farmers’ Union.
He said: “Farmers spend a lot of time on their own in their tractors and in the fields and social media is a really good way for them to have a good catch up with their peers.
“Farmers do like talking about their own environment and are proud of it, and Twitter and Facebook are ways for them to share that with the rest of the world. They’re also interested in what’s going on, for example, if someone has suffered from flooding or they want to know why they have had trouble establishing their crops, fellow farmers might be able to come up with some advice.
“It’s useful for tackling rural crime too. One farmer recently tweeted pictures of his pedigree sheep that had been stolen. They were retweeted thousands of times and eventually the sheep were found.
“I’d say it is a great way of getting involved, particularly among younger people in the industry.”
Smallholder Rosie Hetherington, tweets from @ukfarmwatch to share details about, among other things, rural thefts, jobs and advice for dog owners on encountering livestock. She also posts separately in a personal capacity to educate people about food.
She said: “I’m not from a farming background and neither are the people I know so tweeting about life on the farm encourages them to ask questions, and they get to hear about the ups and downs of working on a sheep farm. I hope gives them an appreciation of where their food comes from.”
Amanda Owen’s calendar will be available online from September 1 via www.graffeg.com