by Lillie Elliott
Luke Doughty is a 25-year-old upland shepherd living in a small village called Rosedale in North Yorkshire. He runs an upland farm looking after about 200 ewes, they are mainly Swaledale sheep and Mule ewes.
Tell us more about your flock?
The Swaledales are a good hardy breed. They have horns, rough hair on their faces to protect them from the weather and a course coat to protect them from the elements.
What is it like living in Yorkshire?
Living in this remote area, it’s important to have your family around you, especially my dad who has taught us a lot about the sheep and my brother is very keen now and up and coming, so hopefully, he’ll come into the family business.
Call you tell us more about the support you have had to get where you are today?
So the Princes’ Trust has really helped me because up on these little farms there isn’t the funding, there isn’t the money about, so they paid me half of my wage while I was doing my apprenticeship, which was two years…It really helps a lot for other little farmers, otherwise, people like me don’t get a chance to come and learn the old skills – otherwise it would be literally dying out. Because it’s like a dying breed – everyone is going down onto the big farms where there’s plenty of money.
How do you sell your stock?
So how we sell our stock is, we take them to the local auction market which is a few miles away – which is a good day out, gets you off the farm, out the valley and you get to see other farmers and have a bit of a social as well.
When we sell a lot of our stock, because it’s such a hard place and the grass quality isn’t as good, people come back because when they buy the sheep and take them down the country, they do better – they just automatically improve when they get better grass, better food.
What does a typical day look like?
My typical day in the winter months consists of feeding sheep and tending to the ewes. There are different seasons in North Yorkshire – they can be up and down, really hot and really really cold and wet for a long time. So, we need good kit, good waterproofs, good footwear, especially where there are a lot of inaccessible places, so you have to walk many miles every day.
The Country Cross