Hello sheepies!

Sorry about that. It’s how my brother used to greet the day when he was about, oh, five. Er, after he’d woken the whole house up at silly o’clock shouting that he’d ‘finis’ sleepin’ – which inevitably got the grumbling response of ‘well, we haven’t’. Anyway, it stuck, passing into family slang, so ‘hello sheepies!’ it is.

baaaaaaaa

Over on my gardening blog I’ve been tree following every month. This doesn’t involve waiting for ents to lumber over the hill (though it easily could, round here); it involves – er, tree following. Reporting on a specific tree once a month, and watching changes, wildlife, etc. I’ve been ‘following’ a hawthorn and I’ve been reporting on archaeology – it’s next to a dolmen – the weather, the fact the someone appears to have been casting a circle up there, and sheep. Oh, I’ve had wild goats as well. One wild goat, much lower down than is usual.

The tree is in a stunning landscape:

hawthorn

one which has been cultivated for time out of mind: some of the field systems are neolithic, as is the dolmen, of course. In high summer there are generally a few cows up here, but there’s not that much sign of the sheep – they go higher up. In spring they’re here, with their lambs once they’re not brand spanking new, and then they take themselves off. Or perhaps that should be ‘are allowed to take themselves off’, but the Scottish sheep I knew would take themselves off. Even over cattle grids (they rolled). That’s why the cattle grids needed gates too.

Now it’s the reappearance of the sheep that means the year is turning, whatever the temperature (they are moved even lower when snow looks likely – or definite, rather).

baaaa 2, ok 3

When I started paying my regular visits, the sheep would take one look at me and flee, bleating madly – perhaps they knew I was mentally dissing their fleeces (they’re Welsh Mountains: coarse, good for carpets, not garments, unless you’re very lucky). Or maybe not. Now they check me out and carry on.

I think they’ve become accustomed to me and realise I’m no threat. That’s not daft: sheep are a) brighter than you might think if you’ve not read any recent research or lived with them, and b) can recognise and remember for a couple of years about fifty human faces, as that research has shown. I’m pretty sure that this lot have got used to me because while I was talking these shots two hikers walked along the track above me. They were quiet, nothing unusual or scary about them – and the sheep scattered, returning once they’d gone.

(incidentally, research has also shown that sheep self-medicate. If they’ve eaten something that has made them unwell, they’ll find and eat something which makes them better – which, for instance, addresses constipation or indigestion. Shepherds and people who lived closely with sheep have known this for thousands of years, but it’s scientifically proven now, so that’s OK.)

baa

Very fine knees, this sheep.

And now the weather has turned, and all the sheep are sheltering in the shadow of walls, dolmens, Iron Age hut circles, gorse, hawthorns, etcetera, etcetera. It’s ridiculously mild, but also ridiculously wet and ridiculously windy (Irish Sea: southwesterly gale force 9, decreasing gale force 8, imminent). So to reassure myself that it’s not always like this, I’m ending with a picture which has nothing to do with sheep, wool, knitting or anything else. Castell Harlech in the sunset, a few evenings ago. Couldn’t resist…

Castell Harlech

It’ll stop raining soon. And these colours just have to end up in a sweater.

(Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa is the conical mountain in the middle, not looking that high really. But it is. Please do not even think about climbing it in flip-flops. Really. Or plimsolls.)

 

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14 thoughts on “Hello sheepies!

    1. kate Post author

      I’m moving back into the garden for 2016. Really enjoy doing it, but it does need to be more convenient. Which is ridiculous as the hawthorn isn’t exactly miles away…

      Reply
  1. Michelle

    Which colorway to knit? The sheep with fine knees, all soft greens and a touch of rust, or the castle on the hill with a striking blue sky. Inspiration, indeed.

    Reply
  2. spinningsheepfeathers

    Your photos are amazing!! I luvluvluv the Sheepie on the hill with the barn down in the valley!
    The last shot of the Castell and the colors are wonderful. Yes, you definitely need a sweater in those colors. I really like the burnt gold or clay brick or whatever you call it color!
    Thanks so much for sharing. I always look forward to your fun and inspirational posts.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Thank you – and I really like bringing my little corner of Wales to a wider world. It’s a bit less lovely today, mind. Covered in fallen leaves and mud.

      Reply
  3. Sue

    What a beautiful shot of Harlech, and a lovely one of the sheep, too. Please , please post when you have found/dyed a yarn to make that sweater!

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      It is stunning – very popular in the holiday season, but every bit as fabulous out of it too…

      I’m spinning some Teeswater at the moment which was a very golden-tipped fleece and I think I’m channelling that sheep’s knees. Hmmm.

      Reply
  4. Barbara

    Maybe I was a crofter in my past? Your sheepies and scenes seem so familiar ! I can relate to your sharing. Thanks for the pictures and words to follow.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Who knows? I’m sure the majority of us have the equivalent of crofters in our ancestry somewhere….

      The very first time I came here (ages ago) I was really ill and the weather was vile. And yet I felt immediately at home for some reason – ok, I’m an almost complete Celt, and I fit physically being small and dark, but it was actually the landscape. It took a geologist friend of mine from round here to point out that the geology was very similar to where I grew up, just facing west. Plus Welsh smallholders are just the same as Scottish crofters in that they leave all sorts of stuff lying about the place until it merges with the landscape, 😉…

      Reply
  5. Lydia

    I have just woken up to your glorious post this morning. What a treat! Now I am imagining round puffs of sheep rolling across cattle grids… You live in a sublime place – ancient, mysterious, gentle, fierce, humorous and altogether wonderful. I have not been catching up with your garden blog something which I will now address. 200 years ago my family owned a sheep farm in the hills above Penmaenmawr – I have been to that place, and walked up the mountain behind the old farmhouse to the stone circle on the plateau. The farmhouse is now bereft of its land and the barns are now holiday homes. The farmhouse has been for sale for a few years and in my dreams I purchase it and restore its dignity….. yes, I dream all the way from here in Fremantle, Western Australia. However, back to my breakfast and thank you for your writing which I enjoy so much.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Thank YOU so much – glad it struck a chord. And greetings to the other side of the wprld, where you probably aren’t having ypur third day of solid rain… Ardudwy looks lovely when the sun shines, can be dramatic when it’s misty, but….

      The ‘house for sale, barns holiday homes’ thing is a problem round here too – in fact, when I moved there were no second homes near me at all (no, there was one), and now both my immediate neighbours are empty houses most of the time. There’s a desperate need for housing people can afford, and there’s an equally desperate need for jobs that pay something more than the minimum wage and which aren’t seasonal. There’s no easy answer, but at least the people who stay in holiday homes bring something into the community, whereas many second-home owners don’t.

      Sorry, rant over! My bro is inclined to feel the same way you do about where we grew up… Guess we all have a pull of hiraeth!

      Reply
  6. grackleandsun

    Lovely and wonderful. Harlech was my favoritest of all cheeses, back when I could eat dairy. Sigh. It is also beautiful in the sunset. The castle, not the cheese. Although, maybe the cheese favors a sunset, too. So… where is the link to this other blog of yours?

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Harlech cheese – haven’t had that in ages, in fact until I googled it just now I’d no idea it was still being made. But I love the fact that the rind of it in this link matches the sunset!

      Ah, it’s on the ‘about’ page… or it was, until I decided to make life slightly more difficult for my stalker. It’s called Beangenie, hopefully stalker won’t bother to read comments…! (I’m not being quite as freaked as I was – stalker still there, still stalking, but not quite as bad as before. For the moment.)

      Reply

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