By way of a final aside (and with Royal-themed matters in the pipeline for the MERL Village Fete later this year) I thought it might be nice to cite MERL’s own Royal Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, who spoke on the subject of hefting to members of the farming community at a reception held in St James’s Palace on 29 January 2002:
“I wanted above all, to take this opportunity to salute you as part of the backbone of our precious countryside. As a consequence of the foot and mouth disaster many may have heard of hefted flocks for the first time and of the difficulty of re-establishing them once they have been removed. But do they realise that so many of you are actually hefted people – a crucial thread in the complex ‘organic’ tapestry that defines the essence of rural Britain? Unstitch that thread and the ancient tapestry will become featureless and abstracted; the countryside will lose that intangible element which comes from the continuity of wisdom and experience between generations. So I pray with all my heart that a way can be found for you and your children to continue caring for our unique landscape, and the special communities which form an intricate part of it.” (Quoted in: Susan Haywood and Barbara Crossley The Hefted Farmer (Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria: Hayloft Publishing Ltd), 2005, p.5)
Please give it some thought and respond to this post to let us know where you feel most ‘hefted’ to and why. Are there objects and artefacts that remind you of places to which you have a connection?
If you are interested in more information on hefting and hill sheep farming, the following volumes are just some of the relevant literature available in the MERL library:
- Susan Haywood and Barbara Crossley The Hefted Farmer (Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria: Hayloft Publishing Ltd, 2005)
- Edward Hart The Practice of Hefting (Shropshire: The Farmers Fund, 2004)
- Various authors Herding a Hill Hirsel: How to do it and how not to do it (Glasgow: Scottish Agricultural Publishing Co. Ltd, 1929