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Learning from the North Cumbria Farmers Group Test and Trial (film 3 of 3)


Barbara Smith, Farmer, Bewcastle, Cumbria

I'm Barbara Smith from Field Head. We've got a farm of about 62 acres now because we're getting old a bit, sheep and a few beast.



And how many years have you been farming?



Oh, 60-odd years. Well, I was born up here, you see, and all my folks came from up here. People pass it by. They don't realise how wonderful it is.


This was the area of the border reivers. They were thieves, really. The farming was so poor in those days that they couldn't get lived, so they just went backwards and forwards

on the border stealing one another's cattle.


There's some wonderful headstones in the churchyard, with their coats of arms on.


Ah, but it's a job finding them again.


This is an Armstrong one, Johnnie Armstrong of Gilnockie. He went to Carlin Rigg. He was tricked into going there and they hung him, and the clan dispersed, and this broken branch denotes when the clan was broken up.


These are the Routledges. The king granted them the lands on a military tenure and they had to fight if there was any trouble on the border.


A lot of the land up here is species rich. I've been making notes, the birds that we’ve found. I've recorded when I've heard the curlew and when I've seen the curlew. We get the waders come up into the uplands to nest in the spring and summer.


There's a lot of permanent pasture in Bewcastle. They reckon that it's more valuable

for absorbing carbon than trees.


When we first went to Field Head, we sold the milk. We had to milk the cows by hand because we had no electric, and we had the highest butter fat in Cumberland, it was Cumberland then, because we had these old hay meadows, and all the herbs in them. If people got paid for keeping it like that, it's excellent for the native cattle, and if you've never tasted Galloway beef, you've never lived!


Well, I'm very pleased that the ecology is being taken into account, the wildlife and the flowers and everything, but it's just, maybe, might not be so easy to make it pay. Time will tell.


It's always been hard up here. You do need a bit of help, because it's not good land, it's not good land a lot of it.


This is the famous Bewcastle cross, it's a 7th century Anglian cross. Some people say that Oliver Cromwell shot the top off it. And these are the birds and the beasts feasting on the vine. This is a Nixon coat of arms. Eh, what does it say? “The time’s running out," you see, and the sickle for the harvest.