1- Why did they choose this lifestyle? (Whole take can be viewed in our ‘Extra Scenes’ on our DVD)
2- What made The Hutchinsons say yes to being filmed?
“We wanted to make people aware of the hard work and challenges that go into producing good quality produce so that hopefully farmers will no longer have to sell produce for less than the cost of production.”
3- Did they ever get their washing dry?
“If you leave it long enough yes! It is so windy out here so we don’t have a problem although it always starts raining 5 min after I have hung the washing out to which I get earache from Tom for making it rain!”
4- Do they recognise all their sheep and how? Do they give them all a name?
“Tom on the whole can recognize just about every ewe on the farm by their features, same as people. He also knows grandmothers and great grandmothers. Names are given only to tup shearlings that we sell.”
5- What are record prices for sheep?
“£120,000 for a Texel and £101,000 for a Swaledale.”
6- Why do they cut the horns?
“If we didn’t the horn would grow into their face and stop them from eating.”
7- How much do they get for the wool of the flock?
“Approximately 30-50 pence for a Swaledale fleece (if lucky!). In the 1960’s the wool cheque used to pay the farm rent. Nowadays it couldn’t buy a ton of feed.”
8- What are the reasons for using different colour codes and shapes on sheep and what do they mean?
“We do it so that each flock can be distinguished by their owners. The ‘Shepherds Guide’ which is published every 4-5 years identifies each mark to be used on hefted flocks in each dale. For instance the blue stripe on the right side is our mark. A mark stays with the farm.”
9- What marks do they burn on horns and why? Do they have to do it every year on each sheep?
“Horn burning marks are also stated in the ‘Shepherds Guide’. Each farm has its own burn mark along with pedigree Swaledale crown burn. It is normally applied to gimmer hoggs (young adults) upon their return to the fell in Spring. The two letters we use for our flock are IB.
10- Why are Swaledales an important breed and why do so many other farmers from around the country travel up here to buy them?
“Swaledales are a hardy breed that has a strong mothering ability. They are with the hill farmer until draft age (4 years old) then they are sold to lowland farmers normally to produce mule lambs (a mix of Blue Faced Leicester tup onto Swaledale yow).”
11- Why do they keep their tails long? Other breeds have short tails?
“As they live in harsh weather conditions, the tail keep them warm between the legs, covering their udders helping to prevent mastitis.”
12- Was it difficult to have someone filming them? Did it not feel intrusive?
“At first yes but Magali practically became part of the family and she spent that long with us that we ended up ignoring her!”
Magali was never really intruding on our personal lives and knew when it was appropriate to film and when it wasn’t so that it didn’t feel too intrusive but yes there are times when you don’t feel like being filmed that day but then you get on with it and forget about it!“
13- What have The Hutchinsons most enjoyed?
“Magali showed us some of the footage she had filmed early days and discovered that Hetty could switch the light on with a pole in the barn. We didn’t know it until we saw it on film. We have such a great record of the children growing up which is invaluable. The film has also highlighted hill farming and made people realise the hard work and 24/7 work that hill farming entails. It’s a way of life, not just work. We are not rich financially but rich in so many other ways.”
14- What did Director Magali Pettier want people to take away from the film?
“I wanted people to have more respect for farmers and the challenges that they go through on a daily basis for such little financial rewards. I was tired of hearing people assume that farmers are wealthy (or grumpy). That is true some are but a lot aren’t and especially not tenant hill farmers. So I set out to challenge those clichés.”
15- When did Director Magali Pettier realise she wanted to be a filmmaker and who/what influenced her in that decision?
“I was 20 when I started to be interested in photography and documentaries. After studying Photography and Video in the North East of England, I worked as a documentary photographer but felt that although I loved photography and still do I felt a bit limited by the medium as text always had to accompany every piece of work in order to explain its context which is not a bad thing but I wanted to explore my options further. And so a few years later I focused entirely on making films in the hope that my work would have more impact. For me the aim of a film is that it is widely seen and has an impact on people and society. This is what I hoped to achieve with Addicted to Sheep when I set out to record the daily lives of The Hutchinsons in 2010.”
For a more detailed Q&A with film-maker Magali Pettier please read our Press Pack here (Page 8 & 9).
To read the definitions of some of the jargon used in the film please follow this link.