animal psychology, Humour, Neurophysiology, Sheep

Why don’t sheep laugh?

When I fell over in the snow the sheep didn’t fall about laughing, they were just perplexed — couldn’t work it out.  They know, you see, that humans are vertical creatures (everyone knows that!)  Horizontal humans just don’t make sense — it’s unthinkable.

When we humans have our preconceived notions challenged, when a paragon of respectability is caught with his trousers down or a judge is spotted slumped in a corner with a glass in his hand and his wig skew-wiff, we giggle and move on.  A sense of humour helps us think the unthinkable, it is great, it helps us accept the apparently unacceptable and we enjoy it.  I think that’s part of what it’s all about — broadening our minds!

Poor sheep: no sense of humour and they still can’t get their heads around it.

Doggy, Hill Farming, Humour

Pedro’s Summer (do)Glog!


The sheep are sheared and drenched, the lambs are all injected and sprayed for blow fly and lice, and Maa’s been done for horse fly and midgy (she tastes most peculiar) and she’s finished the paperwork (boring), so we’re off out — it must be Summer.


Keeping Cool!SONY DSC

Posing in the sunshine!


Walks now limited by bovine population explosion.


So we’re going to dig another pond with Alan’s new little helper…



Who is quieter and less temperamental than the old one who had to be taken away.  Driven onto the lorry with much slipping, sliding, huffing and puffing of blue smoke — Alan was sad.


But the topper has broken so, while Alan mends it, Maa and I have got to cut all the thistles by hand — that’s why I’ve got to do the blog — Maa’s too stiff!.

Cheers all!

043Ped closeup

Hill Farming, Humour, Lambing, Rugby, Welsh culture

Catch a flying sheep!


Have you ever wondered why the Welsh and the New Zealanders are so good at rugby football – its because they both keep lots of sheep. Sheep-keeping and Rugby have a great deal in common. To do either successfully you must be fearless and have absolutely no hesitation. You must be strong, agile and fast. Also you must enjoy physical contact (have I said too much?).

Sheep keeping is athletic and heroic – no more so than at lambing time which is why lady shepherds attend their daughters’ weddings with black eyes and are frequently seen rolling down hillsides in the tight embrace of a frightened ewe while extracting a lamb with a pop (like little Jack Horner, pulling the plum out of the pie) – oh, what a good boy am I!

another try

Thanks to Phil_Heck for the picture CC/BY/2.0

Last week I rugby tackled a lamb. I did more than that – I proceeded to score a dramatic try with it! I resisted the temptation to throw it triumphantly into the air (sheep don’t right themselves like cats). I didn’t even bounce it on the field and I certainly didn’t try to convert it! I did what I always do and held on tight! I felt heroic and athletic as I sprayed its cord and wrote its number on its side – you can be number 10 like your mum – you can be fly-half!

Then in the glow of pride at my own agility (you know I have a bad back), I noticed it – the finger – the one that types the “P”s, the dashes and the punctuation, the one that wears the ring on my right hand – it was strangely deformed.


Mallet Finger!  If you are American: Baseball Finger (how silly). I have an athlete’s injury (the orthopaedic website says so – so there!) – I have ruptured a little but very important typing tendon and Alan has splinted it (are there no limits to his talent?)  Slight blueness is due to sheep marker — not insipient gangrene! I have Rugby Finger!

animal psychology, Communication, Doggy, Hill Farming, Humour

Working dog? Superdog

Here he is!


Not working!

Is he a Welsh Sheepdog?


Well, sort of.


He certainly understands sheep.

He knows when they are ill.


A caring-dog for any of our lambs that are poorly.

He’s much more than that.


Intrepid mountain-dog and finder-of-the-way-home-dog.

‘Responsible-adult’-dog.  Always alert, sensor-of-danger-dog.


Night-hound, watcher-of-your-back-dog.

Ratter, humane catter, licker-up-of-mess-dog.

He’s a parson’s nose disposer.

He’s not a ‘blind-dog’ but he’s a seeing-in-the-dark-dog, a hearing-for-the-relatively-deaf-dog and a sniffer-dog for the finding-something-dead-job.

But most important — he is a remembering-dog.  Working with the terminally forgetful.

If the chickens have not been turned out or the cratches not filled with hay he will fix the farmer with his beady eye (see above) and throw glances at the chicken house or the cratch until the farmer says,”Oh yes, we’d better see to the chickens,” or the hay or the 101 other forgettable chores on our little farm.

spring 2012 209 Pedro



Hill Farming, Humour

Nature’s scam

Don’t be taken in – it’s a scam – Mother Nature’s attempt at PR!

Daffodils have absolutely nothing to do with the Spring –

they are harbingers of disappointment – raisers of false hope!

At least, that’s what they are in Wales.


They have been out for two weeks and our hill is overflowing –

not with the sound of lambs and birdsong –

but with gurgling springs – excess ground-water spewing out of rabbit holes –

and the baas of disgruntled sheep, pained by the muscular effort of holding back the inevitable.


They watch the weather forecast on the wide screen telly, through the picture window,

but anyway they know about these things and no one wants to drop a new born babe –

plop, into a puddle – so they are holding on until there’s a break in the cloud.

And meanwhile they blame me, and by the way, this hay is damp.


Our single antediluvian lamb is chasing chickens now.

Ducks, Splish and Splosh (named Flip and Flop in dryer times) look on and say,

‘Well what do you expect – laying lamb-shaped, wooly eggs that are not waterproof!  This mud is delicious,’ and off they dibble-dabble.

Humour, Lyrical

Easter Elephant

Today I walked up the muddy track to feed the sheep, it was overcast and grey until suddenly the low sun broke through from the East, switching on the fluorescent grass and transforming the underside of the otherwise thick cloud to the colour of bilberries — I half expected a David Shepherd elephant to charge over the hill from Staylittle, bellowing against the forbidding sky. It did not.  The sun went in and there was a bluster as the phantom passed and a little flurry of hail, thrown up by the thundering beast.



Thanks to Brittany H. for elephant ears (CC BY-NC 2.0)


Hill Farming, Humour

Un-Call the Fire Brigade!

Have you ever tried sliding up a slippery pole – it’s not easy, and that’s why you can’t un-call the fire brigade. Once they set off – bells ringing and sirens wailing they are totally committed and it would be churlish to stop them.

Yesterday we had a grass fire – unbelievable after six months of incessant rain, but I’ve always said that Mid-Wales is well drained and we’ve had a chirpy breeze in the last few, sunny days — we’ve even generated a little electricity. We’ve been out and about, trimming back the hedges so they don’t poke you in the eye during lambing, and sweeping up the moss that the ducks have been conscientiously collecting since October – a good time for a bonfire!

P1050450 (2)

One little splutter from the heart of the fire – that’s all it took, perhaps a superheated egg that slipped in with the straw from the chicken coop or an ink cartridge that tumbled from the not too tidy desk into the waste-paper basket with all the bank details that have to be burned. Anyway there was a bang and something small and very hot flew from the fire onto the bank.

The next thing we knew there was a pool of low level flame engulfing my stamping husband.

‘We need water!’ shouted Alison, who has come to stay, for a rest.

We fill up a bucket then realise that the fire is near the stream so run towards it with buckets – we make a human chain – but it only has two links and angina rapidly ensues as we run up and down the steep bank, up which the suddenly stiff wind is wafting the flames with amazing enthusiasm.

Alison’s partner who is stamping and beating the flames with a branch is now disappearing in a pall of choking smoke and the other link in my human chain is chasing her dog who has come to join in.

‘It’s out of control!’ shouts Ali.

Now there’s a moot point here – she could have meant that the dog was out of control. But the situation looked pretty dire to me and the temptation to have a little run on the flat was too much for my bursting chest so I ran to the house to call the Fire Brigade.

‘Emergency – which service do you require?’

‘We’ve got a grass fire, out of control!’ I pant.

Do you require the police, ambulance or fire service?

‘Why would I want the police or… Oh yes. Fire service!’ (You can tell I’ve been trained to deal with crises.)

Now I had not consulted before taking this action. I am usually a team player and I admit that this was not a simple oversight – I knew that my husband would have argued against involving a third party – even as he was being transported from me on a cloud of smoke he would be saying, ‘Nonsense! It’ll be fine.’

I had taken a unilateral decision for which I would be chastised for the rest of time… Especially as when I returned to the scene, the men had equipped themselves with spades and the large yard broom and at last appeared to have the advancing edge of flame under control – although my broom was smoking.

I ran back to the house and that is when I discovered that you can’t un-call the Fire Service.

All I could do was put the kettle on.

(Seriously though, our Fire Service is voluntary — they came very quickly  and we are very grateful and sorry if I wasted their time (and please note the personal pronoun).