Linda Allan turns farmers into film stars

Paul Dunn of New Leys Farm near Helmsley with Linda Allan who has filmed a DVD of last year's 150th Ryedale Show.

Paul Dunn of New Leys Farm near Helmsley with Linda Allan who has filmed a DVD of last year's 150th Ryedale Show.

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Saying goodbye to the year and ringing in a new one can be cause for sentimentality. But it’s not just a case of looking back, it’s also a time for looking forward and gearing up for what new challenges, dilemmas and situations that we’d never imagined await.

Capturing events for posterity allows us to look back fondly on times we’ve shared, but watching them also poses questions about the future and Linda Allan of Beck House Farm near Sedbergh has come up with a new DVD that while providing a memento that will make viewers smile also makes you wonder how much may change in the coming decades.

The cattle lines at the 2016 Ryedale Show.  Picture: Richard Ponter

The cattle lines at the 2016 Ryedale Show. Picture: Richard Ponter

Linda farms with her husband Neil. They have just over 1,200 breeding ewes made up of 800 Swaledales, 200 Mules, 130 Herdwicks, 25 Texels and 30 Blue Faced Leicesters. They also run a suckler herd of around 60-70 Belgian Blue X Limousin cattle. Linda is a farmer’s daughter as well as a farmer’s wife, she and Neil have four children and she juggles her time as many farming ladies have done before her between being mum, wife, farming and for the past ten years filming, producing and selling DVDs of sheep sales, shows and farmer interviews.

When dairy farmer and author Paul Dunn of New Leys Farm, near Helmsley contacted Linda about filming the Swaledale sheep classes at this year’s 150th Ryedale Show she was initially hesitant but Paul was persuasive.

“Over the years I’ve sent for and watched Linda’s DVDs of the Swaledale breed sales and I just thought it would be a good idea if we could get Ryedale Show’s 150th on to this year’s filming schedule. It’s never going to happen again and would be something for everybody at the show to look back on.”

The result is a 70-minute programme of the whole show. It’s been another labour of love for the farmer’s wife who studied art at Carlisle and design at Salford.

“I’d always wanted to farm and ended up marrying the man from across the river (Lune) but someone told me years previously to have another skill or something to fall back on. I’ve always been creative, love painting and that’s why I went down the route that included modules in photography and fashion. When you have kids and get as busy as we do on the farm there’s not really the time to paint and so photography and then video took over for me.

“I started taking my video camera to the Mule sheep sales. The thing that struck me was the second foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2007 six years after the main one. We were selling our Mule gimmer lambs that September and got the call ten days before that the sale was off. I just felt there had been all that preparation and no-one was going to see them, but then I also thought about how much people like seeing the sales if they can’t get to them regardless of restrictions or like to see them again if they’ve done well so I went around three local auctions and filmed their sheep sales and started editing them together.

“When we went to Skipton that year I was asked what the trade had been like so I said ‘here take a look’ and that’s when I thought there might be a market for an annual DVD.”

Having started with Mule sheep sales Linda switched to Swaledale breed sales and shows in 2011.

“I find filming the Swaledales is a bit easier on my conscience because we breed Mules but don’t breed Swaledale tups so no-one can get on my case thinking I’m preferring one breeder because of some kind of commitment we have.”

Meeting some great farming characters has added to Linda’s filming package.

“I never realised how much people love listening to other farmers especially those like George ‘Geordie’ Hutton who I spent time with this year and who appears on a new DVD called Swaledale Sheep The Extra Factor.

“He’s an amazing man and the afternoon I spent travelling around the Lake District with him is one of the best I’ve ever had. He sang to me in his kitchen, told some very risqué jokes and last year sold a Swaledale tup for £30,000.

“He’s had a stroke so he’s in a wheelchair but he’s probably even more of a personality. When we popped in to places he told me to just ‘tell them Geordie’s here’ and everything and everyone stopped for him.”

MORE NEW RELEASES

Linda’s DVDs are traded under the name Bonny Sheep.

Among her other latest releases is a two-disc set titled Swaledale Sheep – A Video Diary 2016 which includes the Kirkby Stephen tup shearling sale, an interview with breeder Alan Birbeck, the Swaledale sheep classes at Ryedale Show, Hawes tup shearling sale and an interview with John and Steph Bland at Thwaite Bridge.

All of Linda’s DVDs can be ordered from the Bonny Sheep website shop which can be found at www.bonnysheep.com.

Alternatively, contact Linda direct on 07896 992598.

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