Our Yorkshire Farm: Amanda Owen opens up on being ‘one step from losing everything’

Amanda Owen on 'almost losing everything' to foot and mouth

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The lives of Amanda Owen, Clive Owen and their nine children are followed in Channel 5 series Our Yorkshire Farm. The Yorkshire Shepherdess’ journey to farming was explored by Ben Fogle in his Return to the Wild series and the show included a touching moment where Amanda opened up on the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001.

Ben travelled to Ravenseat Farm in the Yorkshire Dales to catch up with Amanda and her family. 

Amanda said: “I think at that point, it would be the time when we felt the most isolated and the most remote.

“To look out the bedroom window and to see the Cumbrian sheep being gathered in and taken away to get slaughtered and realising that we were just that one step away from losing everything, just horrendous. 

“We lost a third of our flock because we send sheep away during the winter to kinder climes.”

Read more: Our Yorkshire Farm’s Amanda Owen thought pregnancy was ‘middle-age’

“So all the sheep that we sent away never came back,” The Yorkshire Shepherdess shared.

“And people say, ‘Well you know, you can replace the sheep just buy some more.’

“But it doesn’t work like that around here, the sheep have always been here. 

“If we leave the sheep stay, it’s the whole pedigree, it’s the hoofing system how they have the homeland instincts on their patch.”

Breaking down, Amanda said: “It would have been a disaster. Even now, it brings a lump to my throat thinking about it, it was terrible.”

“It still haunts you?” Ben asked and she replied: “Yeah, it was terrible, it really was.

“When I came here to live I brought with me one turnover crate, two sheepdogs and a handful of sheep. And of course, they were there as well so I lost them.”

“That was your life,” Ben remarked. “Your livelihood, everything you aspired to own.”

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“Absolutely I mean people say, ‘Well you can’t know each one of these sheep on an individual basis,’ because you can’t we have a lot of them,” Amanda continued.

“But it doesn’t mean that you don’t have that same affection for them.

“If you weren’t bothered about them then you couldn’t do this job, basically.

“You’re always striving to do your best,” The Yorkshire Shepherdess concluded.

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Apologising for getting emotional, Amanda said: “Sorry about that,” and Ben replied: “Don’t be silly.”

“It’s still really raw, the fact it can still bring tears to her eyes is testament to how it destroyed so many lives,” Ben added.

“A lot of us just think, just replace the sheep it’s fine just bring some new ones in but it’s not as simple as that, that goes beyond my own comprehension. 

“Those flocks, those herds couldn’t just be replaced they’ve been built up over centuries.”

Our Yorkshire Farm is available to watch on My5.

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