There’s usually a story behind a book, and in this case, it’s one that goes back nearly six hundred years. Meet James Rebanks, a shepherd with an Oxford degree who hails from England’s Lake District, where his family has raised sheep for generations.

Rebanks has become a Twitter phenomenon, which led to an article in the Atlantic Monthly…and that led to a book contract. And the soon-to-be-released book – “The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District” – is already receiving critical acclaim. Through his use of social media, his book – and through his choice to continue the family’s work – Rebanks is “raising the flag” for agriculture.

Stephen Moss (@StephenMossGdn) has written a profile of Rebanks for The Guardian. It’s a wonderful exploration of the man, the art and science of sheep raising in particular, and the challenges and rewards of the rural lifestyle in general. It’s a celebration of a family, a particular place, and a way of life. It’s an evocative piece, and today’s “must-read.” Bonus: a video.

Moss writes about Rebanks:


Above all, he [Rebanks] appreciates the humility of sheep farmers. “I like the idea that people lead lives devoted to something bigger than themselves – the landscape, the flocks and their continuation. Somebody like my father wouldn’t have thought his life was particularly meaningful or significant in its own right, but he saw himself as part of a community and way of life and tradition. I deeply admire that in an age when most things are about the individual and about instant gratification and consumption.”


P.S. You can follow James Rebanks on Twitter @herdyshepherd1