EVERYTHING about Jenny and Lenny Bowes feels new.

In only their fourth year of farming they are considered new entrants, they’ve taken on the tenancy of a new farm, in a new county and are adopting new ways of working. And all of this with three children under the age of seven during national lockdown conditions and lambing time.

Originally from Wensleydale, Jenny used to be a northern area manager for an agricultural chemical company and Lenny was a dairy engineer.

The couple took over the tenancy at Ghyll Bank in Raisbeck, near Penrith, in June 2020 and despite the many challenges of making the move during the pandemic, consider themselves extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to farm in their own right.

Ghyll Bank is 580 acres of grassland. Jenny and Lenny are running a flock of 1,000 sheep mainly made up of Texel and Suffolk cross Mules. They intend to breed their own replacements.

Jenny said: “Due to the current uncertainty surrounding the sheep markets we have also diversified into cattle to spread our risk. We’ve Belted Galloways, Stabilisers, and a handful of Longhorns.”

Lenny added: Our system will be based around grassland management and soil health. We want to work with stock that does well on grass because we need to make a profit on every single acre of land we have.”

Changing trading conditions post Brexit loom large over Ghyll Bank with the couple admitting uncertainty in the sheep market is a cause for great concern.

“Almost all of the land on this farm is only suitable for grazing sheep and regardless of what happens in the market we still have rent to pay,” explained Jenny.

“It angers me that we are concentrating on reducing our carbon footprint at a time when lamb is being shipped around the world. We do worry about the prospect of cheap imported food.

“If we continually get undercut post Brexit then there won’t be any family run farms left and no opportunities for our children to enter the industry.”

Jenny and Lenny have three children – Alice who is six, five-year-old James and Peter who is two. Enthusiasm for the challenge appears to extinguish any of the negatives which threaten to get in their way.

Lenny said: “We are farming around a nature reserve and have plans to restore three wildflower meadows on the farm. We’ve a lot of work planned for 2021 including renovating the farmyard.

“We’ll also be working with the Lune Rivers Trust on flood defences. This will involve leaky dams which means dropping branches across streams.”

The couple also have plans to rewild part of the farm and replenish some woods.

Keen to integrate into the local community, they’ve already joined The Westmorland Dales Farmer Cluster Group which is farmer led and looks into ways the businesses within the group can farm more sustainably.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is also pleased that Jenny and Lenny have decided to join the NFU North West Farming Ambassador scheme.

THE NFU North West Ambassadors are grassroot members of the organisation who want to fight for their industry by getting actively involved in NFU policy development and campaigning.

Richard Pedley is part of that scheme as NFU Uplands Forum Representative

Richard farms in partnership with his parents at Ellerbeck in Barbon near Carnforth in the recently extended Yorkshire National Park.

The family currently run 1,000 Swaledale sheep, 150 Mule ewes and 20 Blue Faced Leicesters. Lambing for the Pedley family starts at the end of February with the Mule ewes which lamb to the Texel tup. This is followed by the Leicester ewes, then the Swalesdales start and finally the hill sheep begin in April.

On the cattle side of the business, the Pedley family run 40 cows with eight pedigree British Blues and the remainder being either pure Limousin or Limousin British Blue crosses.

Richard said: “Like many other hill farmers we’re extremely proud to play our part in producing the stunning landscape of the uplands. Grazing sheep, wall restoration, looking after wildlife habitat as well as hedging and fencing are just some of the tasks we have to do to keep the countryside looking in prime condition for tourists, day visitors and walkers alike.

“Livestock are the priority on our farm as without them we could simply not make a living. With a little help from the wider family and the working dogs, jobs are made a whole lot easier and much more enjoyable even during the toughest of times working in all conditions.”

The main aim of the Pedley’s Swaledale flock is to produce replacement females.

Richard added: “Around 450 ewes are put to the Swaledale tup.After lambing, single gimmers are turned up onto the fell to stay with their mothers. The twin gimmers join them later in the summer when they are all hefted.

“The Mule lambs are kept as breeding rams or fattened and sold through the Swaledale Sheep Breeders Association to ultimately supply the speciality range of lamb in M&S.

“The M&S speciality lamb range runs from January until the end of April with many renowned food critics praising the products because of the taste and tenderness of the Swaledale lamb we play a part in producing.”

Richard also keeps approximately 550 ewes which he puts to the Blue Faced Leicester tup in order to breed the North of England Mule lamb.