Saturday 12 July 2014

Shepherds and barbers

This year’s gathering of the sheep has been in three stages and the first two sheared batches have been kept in the field opposite the front of the house, towards Blaenau. Each batch, of maybe a couple of hundred, was ushered up the drive with Molly standing guard to stop any left turns up the path; she’d love to be a working dog and watches the farmers and the other dogs intently.

Dewi urging them across the railway
On each occasion a lamb or two has been separated from the flock, stuck on the wrong side of the fence, and the all-night bleating outside our bedroom window can ruin a good night’s sleep. Yesterday morning I guided a lone lamb up the edge of the fence into the funnel by the stile onto the railway. I had caught a couple here the day before, and lifted the light balls of fluff across the fence, but this one was determined not to be caught and tried to run past.

For the first time in years the curved end of my shepherd’s crook came into play, hooking the lamb and pulling it up short as it rushed past my legs. It was an instinctive reaction and I felt like a proper shepherd!

Having my hair cut this morning I shared my moment of shepherding glory with the barber who asked whether I’d used a normal crook, for catching round the neck, or a back leg crook which has a much narrower hook. He explained that the back leg crook gives you an extra yard to play with as the sheep rush past you. As he snipped and trimmed my mop he confided that he was shearing long before becoming a hairdresser.

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