Over 20 years ago, well before the current trend for nature writing, Janet White wrote The Sheep Stell, a beautiful and evocative memoir about her life as a shepherdess. Throughout her life Janet has always tended sheep - first as a young woman in the Cheviot Hills, where she was treated with bewilderment by the other shepherds, before leaving Britain to live on an uninhabited island off the coast of New Zealand, with a bonfire as her only means of communication with the mainland and only her flock of 200 sheep for company.
After a brutal attack by an obsessed young man bent on her destruction, she was forced to leave her beloved island and return to England, where she married, became a smallholder in Sussex and finally bought a hill farm in Somerset where she still lives today. Her memoir tells the tale of a woman before her time, with incredible courage and determination, and wanting only peace and solitude in nature and a life with animals.
Underpinning The Sheep Stell is Janet's devotion to the land and her total commitment to combining the principles of conservation with successful farming. Janet White is a trailblazer in both her life and her work. The Sheep Stell is testament to that and homage to the nature we're so rapidly losing touch with. It is a true celebration of the pastoral and pure escapism to a simpler life.
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By eleanor on 20-07-18
A wonderful read
The author describes her life as shepherd in Wales, the Cheviots, New Zealand, Sussex and Somerset, evoking the sights and sounds and smells so you feel you are there with her. This is not a sentimental idyll, sheep die and have to be skinned and violence invaded her island solitude, but the book is a delight.