Picture of the week: 10/01/22

HER Twitter feed has already featured in these pages, but this week’s image from shepherdess Alison O’Neill’s @woolismybread account is for anyone needing a little “collie therapy” at the start of 2022.

VIEW FROM THE HILL: the outlook from Shacklabank PICTURE: Alison O’Neill

No one would claim running a hill farm in the Yorkshire Dales is easy, but Alison insists the spectacular scenery of the Howgill Fells in Westmoreland makes up for many of the harsher challenges of farming life.

Certainly her 35,000 Twitter followers find solace in sharing her love of her flock and her snapshots of a lifestyle city dwellers can hardly contemplate.

TIME FOR TEA: taking a break with Shadow the sheepdog PICTURE: Alison O’Neill

“I am blessed with a rare freedom,” she writes. “I work quietly in the old way, woven to my landscape.”

What that means is trying to offer an antidote to fast fashion and intensive farming, whatever practical challenges small-scale hill farming might pose for a country girl “reared on fresh air and freedom”.

FIRESIDE GLOW: Shadow settles down for the night PICTURE: Alison O’Neill

Her love of nature shines through her posts from the farm that’s been her home for the past 20 years, with her straight talking and love of simple pleasures helping to inspire and delight her online audience.

Just as much of a media star is her loyal sheepdog Shadow, of course, whether spread out in front of a roaring fire, keeping a watchful eye on Alison’s beloved Rough fell, Swaledale and Herdwick sheep or modelling a home-made Hebridean sheep wool dog lead with stag horn whistle.

Alison’s website, shop and media and video links can be found here.

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