Twitter users with an interest in rural affairs or specifically Herdwick sheep may well have encountered Herdy Shepherd, or @herdyshepherd1 to give him his correct Twitter name.
This shepherd with a smartphone has done more to promote Herdwick farming in a few short months than traditional marketing and media have done in years.
Word spread and by December 2012 a few hundred followers had become 2,000. Then things really took off, by March it was 4,000, April 10,000 and the total now stands at almost 13,000 followers. Viruses are the last thing any farmer wants to hear about, in this case however web-virality has been a very positive thing.
Herdwick’s have been farmed in Cumbria for many centuries, yet this is far and away the most detailed and engaging account of hill-sheep farming to date, a wonderfully unique marriage of technology and ancient occupation. Images and 140 character commentary are sent instantly from the Cumbrian fells to phones, tablets and desktops across the globe. Regularly tweeting (should that be bleating?) 15 or 20 times daily followers are gaining as good an understanding of a shepherd’s routine as is possible without actually being there. The technology’s only part of it, it’s the tone, or rather dialect of the messages that really engages. This shepherd tweets straight, but with great eloquence. Followers are treated to his daily trials and tribulations, and those of his flock and dog, all played out against a harshly beautiful Cumbrian backdrop.
For those not familiar with Twitter we include images together with tweets in this post; a flavour of what you’re missing.