Christmas at Ravenseat Farm: How the Yorkshire Shepherdess celebrates the festive season

Imagine celebrating Christmas on a remote Swaledale hill farm with no close neighbours and 1,000 sheep for company.

Amanda Owen - better known as unlikely reality TV star the Yorkshire Shepherdess - her husband Clive and their nine children live at 2,000-acre Ravenseat Farm, which is located in some of the most isolated and hostile terrain in the Pennines.

Christmas for the family - the children range in age from teens to toddlers - presents challenges in an area with poor mobile phone coverage and harsh weather conditions.

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This is how the most isolated communities in the Yorkshire Dales survive harsh wintersIn 2016, Amanda, whose clan star in the Channel 5 series Our Yorkshire Farm, spoke to the Yorkshire Post about their festive traditions.

The Owens at home at Christmas in 2016The Owens at home at Christmas in 2016
The Owens at home at Christmas in 2016

That year, she was hoping for a shire horse as a gift.

“It’s remote up here but you can tell it’s Christmas time because there is a something in the air, a special feeling.

“We decorate the house and there’s holly in the barns, although that’s there to help ward off ringworm. As for presents, I collect them all year round and stockpile for Christmas. I don’t like shopping but it’s easier than when I first came here in 1996. At least now you can have just about anything delivered to your door.

“The children send their lists up the chimney. They never get everything they ask for but they never complain and we try to give them at least one thing they really want. This year Edith and Violet are obsessed with fishing and they want fishing rods. Reuben loves anything mechanical and he saved the day one Christmas when the quad bike’s track rod end fell off and he fixed it.

Amanda Owen at RavenseatAmanda Owen at Ravenseat
Amanda Owen at Ravenseat
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“We have our own traditions. On Christmas Eve, we wake them at midnight - except it’s not really, we just put the clocks forward and it’s more like 10.30pm. Then we all go to the stables and hope to see the horses kneeling in honour of He who was in a stable born.

“In the morning, the children open their presents and we go out and feed the animals as normal. We have Christmas dinner at teatime after all the farm jobs are done and everything is fed.

"Our turkey is a monster, usually a 36lber I buy from the turkey auction. No one wants the really big ones so it’s generally cheaper than the rest. After that we settle down in front of the coal fire and relax. We always have a Nativity set but this year we also have our very own crib and baby Nancy to put in it.

“Clive will go mad at me saying this but I’d quite like another horse, maybe a shire or a Clydesdale. I’m only allowed to have two horses and I’ve got five already.”

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Amanda grew up in Huddersfield and is not from a farming background, but was inspired to move to the Dales after reading the James Herriot books. She was 21 and working as a contract shepherd when she was sent to Clive's farm to deliver a ram. At the time, he worked Ravenseat alone following the end of his first marriage. Romance blossomed and she realised the potential of the farmhouse to become a warm family home.

The property is so remote that some of her nine children were born at home or in ambulances at the roadside as they live so far from the nearest hospital.

As well as appearing on TV, Amanda has written several books about her unconventional life and the family serve cream teas to walkers during the summer. They also rent out a shepherd's hut as overnight accommodation.