The Tweeting of the Lambs: A Day in the Life of a Modern Shepherd

On Twitter, James Rebanks is the Herdwick Shepherd. A little more than a hundred and nine thousand people, most of them trapped in office environments or riding public transportation, follow his account for gorgeous, wide-skied pictures of his flock, and for his evocations of the English countryside. In 2015, Rebanks’s memoir, “The Shepherd’s Life,” became an international best-seller, and he was compared to the nineteenth-century rural poet John Clare. Clare, the son of illiterate laborers from Northamptonshire, wrote about the land from within it; Rebanks’s writing has a similarly involved quality. When he feeds his ewes, he writes, “They line up behind me, with their heads down, like a massive scarf.” Rebanks has around two hundred and fifty sheep to look after, and when they’re lambing he has no time to write. He barely sleeps. “You are trying to keep things alive,” Rebanks said. “You make a mistake and something dies. And then—if you get through it—in a week or ten days’ time, the grass comes, the sun shines, and there is a feeling of absolute sheer exhaustion that turns to elation.”

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