Little Bo Peep seeks soul mate, must like animals and quiet life: Pretty shepherdess, 26, who rejected modern living to run remote farm is lonely
Emma Gray lives alone on a rural farm in Northumberland with only her animals for companyThe farm has no mains gas or electricity and is a 45-minute drive to the pubThe shepherdess said she'd love to meet someone to share her life with but admits 'it's hard because it’s not really a job where you meet guys'
14:35 GMT, 18 May 2012
She lives alone on a rural farm and spends her days in the company of sheep and border collies, so it's no wonder shepherdess Emma Gray has admitted she's lonely.
The modern day Little Bo Peep rejected 21st century life to run a remote sheep farm in Hexham, Northumberland, three years ago, and now says she'd love to meet someone to share her life with.
'I would like someone to share my life with but it’s hard because it’s not really a job where you meet guys,' she said. 'When I tell people what I do most of the time they don’t believe me and they are quite shocked.'
High on a hill is a lonely shepherdess: Emma Gray would love to meet someone to share her life with
The 26-year-old first started herding sheep on her grandparent’s farm as a child and got a degree in sheep management after leaving school.
At the age of 23, she became the sole tenant of a hill farm with no electricity or gas after breaking up with her fianc. She then went on to represent England in the International Sheepdog trials.
Now Emma, who has a flock of 150 sheep and a squad of 13 sheepdogs, has written a book, One Girl and her Dogs, about her solitary country life and hopes for companionship.
'I can live without mains gas and mains electricity and I make sure I speak to one person a day… I suppose my situation is quite unusual,' she admitted. 'Let’s face it. I’m a 26-year-old girl living alone, miles from the nearest main road.'
Emma grew up on the farm of her dad Richard, 53, and mother Helen, 49, near Hawick, in the Scottish borders, and was helping round up sheep as soon as she could walk.
One girl and her dogs: Emma also takes part in international sheepdog trials
But the family’s idyllic life turned sour with the outbreak of foot and mouth disease which devastated their flock. The troubled times didn’t stop Emma and at the age of 19 she got her first job as a shepherdess at a farm in Hexham, Northumberland.
She worked on there for four years and at the age of 23 put in a bid to the National Trust for the farm.
Despite fierce competition, The National Trust chose Emma to take on the responsibility in November 2009.
She said: 'When I first saw the farm it was very run-down but there were lots of people looking around wanting to buy it. I don’t know why the National Trust chose me over older, more experienced farmers with families. Maybe it was because of my enthusiasm. Farming is in my blood and I like a challenge.'
Emma took out a 10,000 bank loan and moved in that winter. She spent the first few weeks living in the kitchen as the entire house was flooded due to burst pipes.
She set to work redecorating and even reconstructed a dry stone wall with her bare hands. She now makes a living breeding livestock and sheepdogs, as well as training dogs for trials.
Last year, she represented England at the International Sheepdog Trials with her top dog, Roy, in Tain, in the Highlands.
Rural living: The shepherdess has no mains gas or electricity at her hill tip farm
She has only been on one holiday since taking over the farm as she doesn't like to leave her animals for more than one night. Socialising can also be difficult because of her remote abode.
'I like to go for a drink with my friends once a week but it takes about 45 minutes to get to the pub and I can’t drink because I’m usually driving,' she said. 'I tried to have a house party when I first moved in but the generator broke and the lights went out, the whole thing was a disaster. Needless to say I haven’t had one since.'
But the shepherdess is keen to start dating in the hope of finding Mr Right. 'I can still go out, it just takes me longer to get there,' she said.
For prospective dates, Emma describes herself as 'quite a girly girl'. She adds: 'Some shepherdesses walk like men, talk like men, dress like men and don’t wear any make-up.
'But I always wear make-up and although I go around in a weather-beaten outdoor jacket I’ve always tried to stay quite feminine.'
'I suppose my situation is quite unusual': Emma has written a book about her solitary life