National Geographic : 1994 Aug
A WAY OF LIFE ON THE BLOCK T ith an auctioneer's singsong dirge farms-now there are five," says Joe W (above), another Lake District Benn, 65 (right), a jaunty soul who raises farmer puts his livestock up for sale. Life cows and sheep on pastureland near the is difficult for farmers here, who raise village of Dean. "I'm hanging' on. I'm mostly sheep. Herdwick wool brings only leaving' my farm to my family." a penny a kilo, and prices for lambs The trouble is, Benn has no takers. are dismal. None of his two sons and three daughters Consequently sheep farmers depend on are interested in the red tape of subsidy European Union subsidies and govern- farming-or in tending sheep through ment grants for survival. Some diversify Cumbria's bone-piercing winter nights. by building tourist cottages or renting "It's been in the family 62 years," Benn campsites on their property. Others says quietly of his cherished 63-acre simply give up. spread. "Maybe some of the grandchil "When I first came here, there were ten dren will fancy to keep it."