Posie's Blog. Tales of island life on a hebridean hill farm

Posie's Blog. Tales of island life on a hebridean hill farm

Monday, 27 August 2007

Drawing Sheep.....




Having finally taken off his Caribbean beach wear, and put those legs firmly undercover in thick leggings and welly boots, the happy farmer spent a day in the fank with his ladies. He was up early gathering them off the hill, sheep dog in tow. There were those of us who were lucky enough to benefit from his early morning escapades when he returned to the farm house clutching a few sprigs of white heather. The heather is out in full bloom just now, the hills are covered in beautiful purple hues, and to his delight the happy farmer came across a clump of wild white heather, very rare and considered to be very lucky.

A dry stone dyker was at the fank, repairing an old wall that has been reduced to a pile of stones over the past few years. Apparently the wall had been dismantled many years ago, when the happy farmer’s father was just a ‘wee bairn’. His pet rabbit had disappeared through a gap in the stones, and his uncle Hugh had pulled the stones apart to retrieve the rabbit. Yesterday saw that bit of wall getting a professional repair. Hopefully it will now remain standing for many more years to come.

The happy farmer was busy at the fank drawing the old ewes, so I carefully took the pen and paper from his fingers…only joking ‘drawing the ewes’ is apparently the term used when one checks the old ewes above and below, for broken mouths, ie no teeth, and to make sure their vessels are in tact. The ‘old crocs’, as the happy farmer so fondly refers to them, are then dosed and fattened on young grass ready for the market, having just left the heather clad hills. The lambs were also separated from the ewes, dosed, and will be fattened in the fields for market too, Back to the ‘authentic’ farm yard sounds at night then as those little darlings will be bleating for their mothers until they settle.

The happy farmer called in his ‘team’ to help chase the lambs and ewes to the fields. The ‘team’ consisting of the happy potter, myself, and the ‘laid back forester’s’ wife, we were all positioned at various points along the way, and instructed to chase those sheep away from the various ‘escape’ routes. Of course all was going to plan until a group of tourists came out of the pottery show room, on cue, just as the lambs were heading for the fields, the lambs stopped in their tracks, the tourists stopped in their tracks, the lambs scattered, the happy farmer, dog and team scattered, the tourists stood and stared…..Losing lambs left right and centre as they pushed their way through gates and so on to escape from the scary tourists, a harassed, happy farmer, raced around, re grouping and re gathering them,, ever so politely asking those lovely tourists if they could just move ever so slightly out of sight, one was obedient, three were not, and I am not talking lambs here. Three attempts later and a bit of good sign language, and the happy farmer had those tourists herded up, and those lambs in the field.

Until next time….

14 comments:

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I suspect the happy farmer wasn't too happy as his lambs scattered! I know how frustrated we get when it happens here. I always find the worst time in the farming calendar is the day that the lambs are separated from the ewes. I get too attached I guess. I hate that wailing sound they all make, desperate to find warmth and a drink. My husband just says the ewes are probably glad to get shut! He's happy also!

Crystal xx

ChrisH said...

I feel a bit of an 'old croc' myself at the moment. Must be very careful not to get too close to sheep in case I get rounded up and given a once over.

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

Ah brings back memories!! I remember ions ago when I had to explain to my very townie boss why the sheep in the pretty picture we were using to publises something rural had big blue splodges on their hind quarters..So what tupping then soudns like fun!!!Bet your life he was on eof yout tourists saying oohh sheep do you think they are taking them for a walk?

laurie said...

heather! oh how lovely. i've never seen white heather, just the lavendar heather. and how fragrant. how lucky you are.

lampworkbeader said...

I love your blogs, they remind me of when I was a child and stayed with my Granny out in the hills in Caithness. Don't be too hard on us poor tourists though. I swear if I was out and about I would do my best not to scare your sheep.

Milkmaid said...

We have had the best of times and the WORST gathering animals, if it goes smoothly S is in a good mood, badly and we might as well skip town for a few days, the tourists would have tested his temper

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Oh I would find it too hard knowing that any animal was going off to market . . . I would want to rescue them all.

Cait O'Connor said...

My daughter and son in law farm sheep here in Wales so I know all about the life. But what is a fank? Excuse my ignorance it must be a Scottish word?

Pondside said...

Your blog always does my heart good! Love to think of the 'authentic farm sounds' after the separation has taken place...and the image of the tourists!

Inthemud said...

How frustrating ! But you made me laugh . Glad asll was well in the end and lambs safely back where they should be .

muddyboots said...

oh, farmer here doesn't like his heifers scattering either, has been known to go into orbit at 'letting out time' when cows start galloping straight for the electric fence! he starts leaping around waving his arms & shouting......

Tattie Weasle said...

Love the heather at this time of the year - won't get to see it this time tho' as NFI to Yorkshire as my dogs are considered too disobedient when out ranging with Grandpa - they ignore him. Will have to live a bit vicariously instead...

@themill said...

Drove over the North Yorkshire moors on Monday and the heather is looking stupendous.
How much I DON'T miss sheep!!

Pipany said...

Hello Posie. Such a long time since I was last on the site properly but lovely to read through all your blogs. They are always so prettily written. We are in the midst of sloe gin making as they are always ready early in Cornwall. The lack of a frost never seems to make any difference to that wonderful rich flavour - yummmm! xx