One Man and His Car

November 21, 2013

Riding into Bigtown this morning I encountered a bit of sheepherding, modern style – one (ordinary saloon) car driving along in front with its hazards on, a flock of sheep, and one driving along behind to make sure there were no stragglers. I suppose there’s no actual reason why one should herd sheep from a quad bike with a dog – or even from a 4×4, except that it just looks a bit more authentically agricultural that way (although I did notice that both drivers were at least wearing their tweed caps). And if you’re on a normal car it’s probably a lot warmer and more comfortable than a quad bike and cheaper to run than a Land Rover.

But it did seem a little strange that these sheep were being herded from next to the field where sheepdog school regularly runs – and indeed, as I cycled back before lunch, there were all the trainee sheepdogs bouncing up and down waiting for their turn to chase the remaining sheep in circles round the field. You do wonder what the point is of all that training if you can move the sheep around just as easily with a couple of Ford Focuses fore and aft. And you’d think the dogs would relish the chance to actually try their stuff on the road doing an actual real job moving sheep from one field to another.

But then again, being trainees, perhaps they’re not up to being out there with the traffic? At what level do you allow the dogs out on the road? Sheepability 2?

Playing Hooky

September 17, 2009


I’ve actually been working for my living these last few days, and it’s been something of a shock to the system – not least because it’s coincided almost exactly with the late arrival of the summer. I just know that the minute it’s over, the clouds will roll in and the rain will start making up for lost time.

So, this lunchtime, with the blue sky taunting me, I decided to abandon my laptop for an hour or so for a little pootle around the lanes on my bike, because I could. Sometimes, you’ve got to take advantage of these moments while you can.

As I rode out I stopped for a while to watch the progress of sheepdog school, and then I wandered on, down the road and over the river, noticing at all the melancholy signs that autumn is just around the corner. The roads were empty, except for a lone fisherman trudging back to his car, and the weather was just about perfect for a gentle cycle ride to work up an appetite for lunch.

A few miles later, refreshed, I turned and headed home. As I approached the field where the sheepdogs were, I heard a few distant whistles and shouts but saw neither man, nor dog, nor sheep. And then I heard a discreet cough and the sound of chewing. Looking over the wall, I saw the sheep, huddled quietly between the trees and the wall. The boss one gave me a look that clearly said, ‘shhh! Nobody knows we’re here.’


Looks like I wasn’t the only one who was sneaking off for a little P&Q today …

Sheepdog Fail

February 20, 2009

For the past few weeks, the field opposite our house has played host to what we’re calling ‘sheepdog school’. Four or five dogs, all but one tied up waiting their turn, some rather pissed-off looking sheep, and a man with a piercing whistle, shouting endless instructions. It used to be held in the field further up the road, near the waterfall, but it has moved – perhaps those were the beginner sheep and these are the intermediate ones. If they’re the sheep I think they are, they certainly seem to like escaping.

The other day the other half was enjoying a cigarette and watching the show as usual. All the tied-up dogs were yipping and bouncing and doing the sheepdog equivalent of sticking their hand in the air and shouting ‘please sir, me sir, I know the answer sir, ask me sir’ while their hapless classmate went through its routines. The field is hilly, so depending on where they are, you don’t always get such a good view, and on this occasion all the other half could make out of its progress was this:

‘Come by, Robbie, come by, steady, steady, come by phweeeep come on, steady, steady, steeeeeeady Robbie, come by phwip phwip phwip, Robbie!*’

Followed by

‘Now then. Where have the bloody sheep gone?’

*actual words may have varied. I don’t speak sheepdog, but that’s sort of what it sounds like