ENTERTAINMENT

Life on the farm: "Britain's loneliest shepherdess" has first baby


A new BBC documentary has given a glimpse into the life of the youngest UK solo shepherd, Emma Gray, who became a mother for the first time last year.

The 34-year-old farmer, who once wrote a book about her life as the UK's loneliest shepherdess, married 41-year-old firefighter Ewan Irvine in 2018 after meeting him four years ago and gave birth to their first son Len last year.

While Ewan is still learning the ropes, the two manage to run a herd of 400 ewes, several cows and 20 border collie dogs of different ages on their remote Fallowlees farm in Northumberland.

But life in the country is not without its challenges, and on BBC2's This Farming Life, Emma confesses the couple are struggling to have a good time and teases that they once "almost divorced" while moving cows would have.

A new BBC documentary has given a glimpse into the life of the youngest UK solo shepherd, Emma Gray, who became a mother for the first time last year. She is pictured with husband Ewan Irvine (41) and one-year-old son Len on Fallowlees Farm

"It's hard to get time," admits Emma. "We have so much time, which is quite a test of what I think is a relationship."

“It's quite difficult to work with stocks like this. Like cows, we almost divorced in the past when we moved cows. & # 39;

And while Ewan had some concerns about his farming career, he now says he feels that "there's a little bit of farming in everyone."

"There have been some fears," says Ewan, "because it's not my career and I don't come from farming, but I'll try to do my best not to let anyone down."

Emma once wrote a book about her life as the loneliest shepherdess in Britain after a breakup with her fiancé led her to lease the Fallowlees farm alone

Emma once wrote a book about her life as the loneliest shepherdess in Britain after a breakup with her fiancé led her to lease the Fallowlees farm alone

He later adds, "Maybe there is a little bit of agriculture in everyone, as hunters and gatherers we went into agriculture and I think it's in our DNA."

In the documentary, Emma temporarily leaves home to take part in the English National Sheepdog Trials. Ewan is responsible for the Northumberland Farm.

"It's a steep learning curve," he admits, "I've been living with Emma for four years now and I'm a little overwhelmed here without Emma because I never know what to prioritize." Emma immediately knows what to do. & # 39;

He says, “I'm slowly getting her to tell me and include me because sometimes she thinks I should just know and guess. So yeah, I miss her when she's gone. & # 39;

In the new documentary, which airs at 9 p.m. tonight, Emma shows how she and her husband Ewan are adapting to life on the farm as a family

In the new documentary, which airs at 9 p.m. tonight, Emma shows how she and her husband Ewan are adapting to life on the farm as a family

Emma made headlines 11 years ago at the age of 23 when a breakup with her fiancé led her to take over the National Trust's 150 acre Fallowlees farm in Northumberland, making her the UK's youngest solo shepherd.

She later became the first woman to win the prestigious Northumberland Sheepdog Trials League in the competition's four decades of history.

But country life wasn't easy – she struggled to find a husband and wrote a reminder of her lonely farm life in 2012 entitled One Girl and Her Dog.

Emma longed for a match, but her search for love suffered a major setback when she broke her back in a near-fatal quad accident in June 2016.

Emma was the sole tenant of the National Trust's 150 acre Fallowlees Farm in Northumberland 11 years ago, making it the UK's youngest solo shepherd

Emma was the sole tenant of the National Trust's 150 acre Fallowlees Farm in Northumberland 11 years ago, making it the UK's youngest solo shepherd

The shepherdess even appeared on The Sun that same year, revealing that she was looking for love in a photo shoot that encouraged potential applicants to get in touch with her.

At the time, she described her perfect date as a "big, sturdy dog ​​lover who doesn't mind a little crap".

Emma not only became the first single female shepherd champion, she has since broken a world record and made one of her border collies King of Dogs – after being sold for a world record of £ 18,900 at auction.

It produced 14,000 guineas, an ancient currency traditionally still used to order cattle after the German shepherd Megan was sold to US buyer Dr. Pamela Helton had sold.

Emma made Border Collie Megan (pictured) the King of Dogs after selling her at auction for a world record of £ 18,900

Emma made Border Collie Megan royalty – after selling her at auction for a world record of £ 18,900

While similar farm dogs typically sell for around £ 2,000, the two-and-a-half year old got the huge sum because she came from a family of champions.

Emma also set the previous record of £ 14,700 for the shepherd bitch Brenna a year ago.

It can't be long before the family owns another record breaking German Shepherd, as Ewan's dog Rita, Brenna's daughter, also gives birth to her first litter of puppies in the documentary.

It produced 14,000 guineas, an ancient currency that is still traditionally used in some cattle bidding after the German shepherd Megan was sold to US buyer Dr. Pamela Helton had sold

It produced 14,000 guineas, an ancient currency that is still traditionally used in some cattle bidding after the German shepherd Megan was sold to US buyer Dr. Pamela Helton had sold

Ewan reveals, “I'm really excited about her. & # 39; She did really well. We have four now.

"You're so proud that it's like kids, it's not quite as exciting as Len, but it's not far."

"You can't help but make your heart beat faster when you see a life being born."

This Farming Life airs Tuesdays at 9pm on BBC2 and is available on iPlayer

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