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Sheepdog News

Sue: Day Five

Well. Our room at Lochmoddy Hotel was right over the pub. The sun never set last night as far as i can tell. I slept so little that I actually slept in until the alarm at 6:30.

Proper Scottish breakfast minus the black pudding and off to Berneray. On the way we saw yesterday’s mud flats at Orasaigh at the high tide–a different seascape altogether.

Berneray is a small island connected to north Uistby, a causeway.


In the 1850s the highland clearances took place. The island was cleared of the resident crofters by the estate farm. The lands and stock were seized. Many emigrated to Australia; some stayed and ate limpets and mussels collected at low tide. In the 1900s, a few families were granted crofts allotments. The crofters faces and names are posted in the community hall where lunch is served for the trial, and we have access to the loo. There are basketball hoops on either end of the hall. The names are Macloed Mackillop Murdo Peterson, among others

You can see what bonded history these islanders have. The clearances, the harsh climate, the war. Other photos show 35 schoolchildren in an open cat boat on their way to a picnic in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and other photos of islanders working together plowing and unloading sheep off a landing craft. What an outsider I felt looking at the photos. What a special place this is.


Today there were signs to the trial and yet again we arrived before anyone else. We weren’t going to be tapped first by signing up early, so we drove off to walk dogs and allow Joe to roll in something disgusting (Flo had her opportunity yesterday. I threw her into a loch three times to encourage her increasing trust in me).

We drove back to the trial and showed up after many others, but still I had the honor of running second. Actually first as the first runner walked off after her dog went wide and behind the set out.

So lets talk about me.

I was in the loo when they announced pen and split but all at once i was up with Flo. The course is flat, about 400 yards. To the left is rough ground that dips out of sight. To the right is rough ground with a fence and sheep grazing on a rocky hillside croft beyond.

Flo chose left after looking and sniffing the air for the hillside flock. She went out wide and fast, needed a whistle to continue, then crossed in front but lifted ok, if not a wee bit hard. I was able to stop her with a shout or two and though wide at the fetch gate they were at my feet and she was listening and settled.

Much better than Waternish. I had a run going. Doesn’t sound like much, but even with the cross Flo went out with purpose. Her approach to her outrun has been a concern. Before I left she was not spotting her sheep nor having any creative thoughts about going out for them. With Bev’s breakdown of cost per outrun, i was a bit anxious

We had a wide off-pressure turn. They were a newly shorn foursome of spritely aged ewes without a strong commitment to each other. Flo’s treatment of them on the fetch did not soothe them, but we treated them tenderly on the drive and coaxed them thru both drive gates. It was a good drive and Flo responded nicely to steer them well through the gates.

The pen was a long way from the post. We had a time penning them. Hasty dog flighty sheep. It was a rush. It was a long rope on that pen and the door swung lightly on its hinges.

The split was not too hard and I thought we made a god job of it.

Wow. Even with a cross. A completed run on fantastically fresh sheep. Flo had as much fun as I did and though a bit over eager was willing, free, and responsive. Can’t wait for the next go with her.

So I think i had the only run before the rain began. (Ah, you should have been here last year. Not a drop of rain …)

Bev had a wild running packet with Nan. Got around but they never slowed down. She’ll tell you more later.

What i have learned here, among other things. Don’t dock tails anymore. If lambs are not in a dirty yard. I don’t see the point. Don’t post breakdowns or even scores. Everyone just runs and a winner is announced at some point in the circuit. I like that. And Shirley Cropper said the sheep would be from different crofts. No kidding!!! After eight runs, the cheviots were replaced by four mules, then a few packets of orange marked cheviots. Seems like a few flocks used consecutively but not mixed. What an interesting way of having enough sheep.

The penning is the thing here. We went to get soup and buy raffle tickets at the community center, and very few pens.

Jim and Shirley had good goes. No split for Jim but both had nice clean pens Shirley just got her split as the rain pours down.

We are holed up in the car. No handlers tent, so this is not as sociable as our trials back home. Our fly fishmen dropped by. We did not tipple, I’m sorry to say. Now we wait in the car for our second go.

Too bad about this weather, but the trialing is fine regardless.

Concessions in Berneray

Concessions in Berneray


Well, it’s still raining after lunch. Had my nap and was called to run Peat

He wanted the exhaust sheep but took a redirect and headed out for sheep he had never seen. Good boy really.

photo 1

Much better than Waternish but four racing blackies that had left the set out before he got there.

We never got hold of them until the pen. I thought we had it after a lot of work easing them towards the mouth. Me giving way creeping. All the wonderful tips from my friend Amanda. Bev approved of my technique but alas one full figured ewe – a total malcontent- broke over peat. (Who has been a really good guy). What’s a guy to do.

Bev’s up soon with Joe. Weather’s breaking a little. Actually this might be full on beach weather.

We now understand mist vs rain (blows sideways).

I have never had so much fun in my life.

Comments (6)

6 Responses to Sue: Day Five

  1. Amanda Milliken says:

    Great entry. all the understatement.
    Fun on

  2. Julie Williams says:

    Excellent Sue! Sounds just wonderful. I do hope you are taking lots of pictures. Thanks so much for the updates!

  3. Martha Walke says:

    Sounds as if you both are having a wonderful time. Love the positive attitude. Thanks for all the updates and asides. Don’t forget to come home!

  4. Sally says:

    Enjoying your blog immensely!

  5. Dave Young says:

    You guys are the Sally Ride’s of the North East dog handlers, loving it!

  6. cindy says:

    love this i look forward to the comments every day

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