Film ID:
NEFA 22254

NORTHERN LIFE: FARMER, MISS ANDERSON

1977

Visitor Tabs

Description

Tyne Tees Television Northern Life news magazine report by Tony Cook about the hard life of a remarkable elderly woman farmer at an isolated farm in Northumberland, Miss Anderson, who runs the farm alone. This item was originally broadcast on 22 April 1977. 

It's lambing season and Miss Anderson is outside to feed her flock of sheep and lambs in the cold wintry April weather, snow on the ground. She says: 'You can see me getting nearly knocked down. I got a bump.' She sounds cold and heads for the barn. 

Tony Cook interviews Miss Anderson in front of a coal fire in her home. She talks about the worst night of the winter so far  and trying to get the lambs in. She is concerned about the disappearance of one of her lambs and the possibility that it's been stolen. Cook asks if she gets called out very often in the middle of the night. She says she keeps her clothes on all night and the fire going. 'You only get one chance to get the lambs alive.'

Outside, Miss Anderson emerges with a lamb from the lambing shed. The ewe runs off but returns to look after her new born lamb. 

The farmer collects bales of hay to take into the barn. In voiceover, she says 'the straw's wet beyond all hope.' She doesn't know when it'll dry out. Back carrying food to her flock in the snow, she says her friend has said: '"I don't know why you keep all these beasts for." And I says I''ll let them go in a bit.' It's clear she is attached to the work. 'The wind's sometimes that bad, you can't open the gates to let 'em get through.' The sheep head towards the barn in a snow blizzard. 

The reporter quizzes her about snow drifts. She replies that they're not as bad as mud, and the mud was terrible in September.

Back inside the farmhouse, the interview continues. Cook asks: 'I notice you have a telly. How do you spend the evenings up here alone?' She admits that 'if it's a very cold day, and you've worked outside, you can't even be bothered to watch it. You're just that tired.' He wonders how she copes when she gets ill. She says: 'You just go and work if you can.' But she talks about being so ill she couldn't move and how her doctor gets annoyed with her. 

Miss Anderson feeds the lambs. Cook asks the inevitable question about whether she's ever thought of retiring and gets a resolute 'No!'. She describes the convenience of markets in Morpeth and Acklington so it's all 'set out'. She walks back into the snowy fields to her flock of sheep.