Lizzie Weir is a self-employed shepherd. She currently works on a farm that dates back to 1545 in Ennerdale, west Cumbria.

Always I’ve wanted to farm, I love it. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I went to Newton Rigg and did an apprenticeship at Glencoyne Farm. Since then I’ve been self-employed, working here, there and everywhere: Ennerdale, Borrowdale, Glencoyne, Mungrisedale.

I’ve lived here in Ennerdale for about two years now with Sam Rawling. The lintel above the door here says 1717. This is the second house, built on the first one that dates back to 1545, and that was built by a Rawling. Sam and his dad have about 1750 breeding ewes, plus followers, herdwicks, cheviots and white ewes (that’s texel-cross-herdwicks), and about 60 cows.

I personally have eight herdwicks. I borrowed a tup last year and took it to my herdwicks, and I’ve got ten now, and one cheviot that I’ve nurtured - it wasn’t very well at the start of the year. It’s with my yows now and it’s fit as fire.

The best time of year? It’s June, when you don’t do a lot! And I like lambing time. It’s hard work, but at the end of it when you see all the lambs running around the fields, it’s a really nice feeling.

One of the biggest challenges is the weather: that’s what makes disease worse, or affects the grass. This lambing time we’ve had no grass. The hazard of being a primary producer is that there’s so many variables that you can’t control: the weather, disease risk, market forces. It’s a challenge to keep a farm viable.

We have a holiday cottage and the sheep pens are right outside. I love that people come and they can see what we’re doing. It’s amazing how many people don’t know where their meat comes from. Every little job you do, in the yard, in the sheep pens, if people are there, they learn, and they appreciate it.

If you offered me a job inside, even with more money or more holidays, I would choose farming, one hundred percent, no question about it.

I honestly couldn’t think of anything better to do. When you go up there, you know every bit of that fell. It is so unspoilt; and I look down, and think, I live here, it’s gorgeous, even when it’s raining.

 

 

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Lizzie Weir is a self-employed shepherd. She currently works on a farm that dates back to 1545 in Ennerdale, west Cumbria.