Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Scotland: At Home on the Farm

Farms have always held a very large place in my heart. I'm guessing it's because I was born in rural Vermont in the midst of so many historic family farms. I am drawn to the countryside, the barns, the animals, the kitchens, etc. I suppose I probably wouldn't be able to handle the physical stress of it all, but I like to dream that I would enjoy it.

So, of course, it was an added bonus that the house we rented in Scotland (Melville Lodge) was right next to a working farm! Even better, the farmers were so very friendly to us!

Soon the kids knew these sheep by name: Spike (a Jacob), Clive (a Texel), (a Zwartble), Demetri (a Romanov), Rupert (a Riland Brown), and Golden (a Texel).

I can never resist cows. In fact, I once carried around an antique wooden cow my mom had and pretended it was a doll. I guess there is something to that saying "big brown eyes."

 I think I could be quite happy mucking about the farmyard in wellies and jeans as my daily uniform. Of course, real farmers would just laugh reading this -- real farm work is hard!

In Scotland walkers are free to roam anywhere -- isn't that nice? But the farmers were happy for us to explore even without that law. 

One Saturday we were invited to help move the sheep from the lower fields to the barnyard. Best fun ever!

Apparently, this moving procedure can take a whole lot of time. In the end, because there were so many of us, it took longer to explain what we were going to do than to actually do it!

And here they are up in the barnyard!

A happy shepherd in training:

A moment of satisfaction that everything went well!

When the sun shines, this land is just beautiful!

It was pheasant season and we saw them everywhere, including the garden of our rented house!

I think everyone's favorite sheep turned out to be Spike. The farmer brought him over to say goodbye before we left. I couldn't leave the farmer out of the picture!!

Some of the sheep stayed up by the house and were fun to feed by hand:

Oh yes, you can't resist digging your fingers deep into that woolly coat!

Look at their sweet faces:

One day the kids decided to catch chickens:

 Learning something from the farmer:

Feeding the chickens:

I liked this one with his feathery feet!

A fresh egg to take home and eat!

Caught one!

Below the house where we stayed was this large pasture filled with curious sheep:

And one more close up of Spike:

I had to include a few videos to give you not only the sight but also the sounds:

In case you are interested to know more about this farm, you can check out their Facebook Page: Clive The-Tup or their other page Bluestone Rare Breeds.

I've just finished a wonderful book on shepherding in the English Lake District which I highly recommend:

The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks is written by a man who is currently living in the Lake District and shepherding flocks of Herdwick sheep (sheep native to that area and the kind that Beatrix Potter raised as well). I love reading about his family history of generation after generation shepherding this land as well as what the day to day struggles and joys are like. (Please be aware that this book does contain a fair amount of language.)

Rebanks title is a throw-back to a book written nearly 100 years ago by an English shepherd:

A Shepherd's Life: Impressions of the South Wiltshire Downs by W. H. Hudson. I've just started this, and it is not as easy reading as Rebanks but no doubt it will be good in its own way. Rebooks said it was such an inspiration to him.

That's all for now about farms and sheep!

Please note: this post contains affiliate links.


reader19 said...

What a great post---I just love the one photo of the road, with hills, shadow, and blue sky with white fluffy clouds! We enjoyed the video's too! What a lovely, peaceful post!

elizabeth said...

what a lovely farm! a special time for you all! how neat!

Bluestone Rare Breeds said...

Really glad you had a great time in Scotland, it was good to meet you all. If you are every back this way again make sure you come and see us. Jane & Kitt (The Farmers Next Door)

Pom Pom said...

WHAT lovely photos! I love the sheep! Can I have the one with the three sheep? I'd like to frame it and hang it on my wall. I like sheep portraits!
I love this post. I want to walk through a farm.
Yay, Heather!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post! How wonderful that the farmers were happy to open up their farm and work with you. I have never seen such a sheep as Spike - rare indeed! James Rebanks has been in the news a lot this summer. I think the book came out of his popular Twitter feed? Interesting to learn about his predecessor. I think it's a terrible shame that rural life and work is so undervalued, at least in Britain.