Topic: Sheep Diaries: Exploring Everyday Sheep Landscaping
Keywords: Sheep; landscaping agents; digital tracking; rural futures; uplands.
Amid contemporary debates over the future of the UK’s uplands, this paper seeks to acknowledge and illustrate something of the complexity of the processes that lie at the heart of these debates. We approach this task by directing attention to more-than human entanglements in landscape-shaping. Specifically, this paper foregrounds the everyday perspectives of sheep located within a sparse rural locality lauded for its natural landscape and heritage, as recognised in associated landscape designations. The paper introduces an interdisciplinary pilot study that spatially tracks the actions and behaviours of a small number of sheep from a larger flock. This geospatial information is then collated into ‘sheep diaries’ alongside digital imagery and further contextual (human) information. Through this ovine lens, the paper then goes on to consider how these more-than-human agents, albeit always more-or-less entangled with their human counterparts, actively produce and reproduce rural landscapes through their everyday activities and spatial practices. In so doing, we aim to present alternative perspectives on rural production in an original, engaging and accessible manner, offsetting to some small degree predominantly human-centred ongoing discussions of upland futures.