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A Native Breed

Starting a Lake District Hill Farm


About this book:

  • ISBN: 978-1-910237-24-3 (paperback)

  • Published December 2016, reprinted 2019

  • Price £12.00 + postage

  • 134 pages

  • Illustrated with 24 colour photographs.

For information on Andrea's new books follow these link:

In My Boots


Four Seasons on a Westmorland Farm



The Book:
Andrea Meanwell helped out on her aunt and uncle’s hill farm in the North Pennines in Westmorland as a child and dreamt about having her own flock of sheep.
This is the story of how she started her own hill farm in the Lake District, the native animals she bred and her fascination with how those native animals maintain the environment that thousands of visitors to the Lake District know and love. It is a tale about how native animals and local people are hefted to the Lakeland fells. It is a heart-warming story of perservance and courage. This book was long-listed for the 2017 Lakeland Book of the Year Award.


Andrea has since been interviewed by the 'Sunday Times' about how hill farmers are threatened by new Government plans. The 'Sunday Times' reported: Andrea Meanwell who started her own Lake District hill farm six years ago, said it would have a "massive cultural impact" if Cumbrian sheep farmers were forced to quit through poverty... her book 'A Native Breed', tells how she bred her own flock of sheep, and has been selling them below her break-even point... and was delaying taking sheep to market until prices recovered.

4 star review from Amazon: “Wow! It’s like Wuthering Heights, Mills & Boon and Darling Buds Of May all in one book!”

READER REVIEW: A Native Breed is a quite exceptional book by an obviously exceptional lady. I am not a farmer, but have been fascinated by the incredible journey Andrea tells with real passion. Andrea writes her account in a way that it can be read with great interest, whether you have spent a lifetime in farming or know nothing about farming at all. It takes a special person to start a farm from scratch; often an uphill battle, against nature, finances & even her own livestock, but it would seem her motto is never give up and you will succeed! Combining starting a farm and bringing up a family is awe inspiring.
Having read this fantastic book, I now want to visit Andrea & family at their farm and go fell running with her husband Anthony!
Andrea has a very captivating style of writing and I can't wait for her next book; I am going to request to go on the pre-order list right now. All credit to Hayloft publishers for producing a great looking book with fantastic photographs. It also fits nicely in the outside pocket of a Barbour jacket! BRAVO, FIVE STARS.

First book by woman with 'farming in her blood'
A WOMAN who left a career in teaching because of the strength of her 'farming blood' has published a book charting how she started a Lake District hill farm. Andrea Meanwell was brought up in York but helped out on her aunt and uncle's hill farm in Upper Eden as a child and always dreamed of having her own flock.
Andrea's grandparents were Harold and Lily Binks and her grandfather's family home was at South Road, Kirkby Stephen, where he kept his animals in fields opposite. Her aunt and uncle are Alan and Ruth Birbeck, of Nateby, Alan being a Swaledale breeder and founder member of North of England Mule Sheep Association.
The fells and the farming way of life 'called' to Andrea on every visit to the old counties of Westmorland and Cumberland and, decades later, she and husband Antony — now team captain of Borrowdale Fell Runners and secretary of Rusland show  — found the perfect spot to become 'hefted'.
She tells the story in her first book, A Native Breed, published by Hayloft. Many of the photographs in the book are by Suzanne McNally, of South Road, Kirkby Stephen.
Andrea began her foray into farming on two acres of land in the Rusland Valley with eight Herdwick lambs. But she was bitten so hard by the 'farming bug' that she took on more land, used her husband's pension to build a barn and lambing shed, moved on to Shetland and North Ronaldsay sheep, Fell ponies and Dexter cattle and became smitten with the Rough Fell sheep breed.
Her book charts the highs and many lows of life on a fell smallholding — Herdwicks constantly leaving home in search of their own heft, the sudden death of a £5,500 prize ram, theft of her old but beloved and much-needed Land Rover, and being so savagely attacked by a newly-calved cow that she needed emergency hospital treatment.
She also writes of the daily winter grind of stock feeding, the anxieties of haytime, the euphoria at the safe arrival of new lambs and calves, and the inevitable deaths. 
Shining through is her fascination with how Cumbria's native animals maintain the environment which thousand of Lake District visitors know and love. It is a tale about how native animals and local people are hefted to the fells, and, above all, a heart-warming story of the courage and perseverance needed by everybody involved in farming. Cumberland and Westmorland Herald


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Andrea Meanwell is available to do talks to groups in Northern England – please email for further information.

News about Andrea's new work as farming officer for the Lake District National Park






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