Doggy, Hill Farming, Humour, Literature, Wales, Wendy Wigley

Iolo’s Revenge


‘They’ll do!  They are the ones I want’, said the old farmhouse, probably in Welsh, and the couple (the ones the old place wanted) were drawn into the life of the place — inspired by its beauty, its creatures, its moods and its stories.

My book, Iolo’s Revenge, Sheep Farming by Happy Accident in Mid-Wales, is published later this week by Logaston Press.  It tells of the abduction of an orderly, retired couple from Northampton to the heart of Wales.

They accidentally buy a derelict farmhouse and almost immediately are adopted by Pedro, a wayward hound.  They had been winding down for a quiet life when suddenly they are climbing on the roof in the midst of a terrible storm, grappling with a homicidal, mechanical digger and wrestling with a huge pregnant ewe in a freezing stream in the middle of the night.

They had never had any inclination to move to Wales or practice extreme farming, nor try to learn Welsh –yet life just takes over and before they know it they have discovered a sense of belonging and community lost since childhood.



Iolo’s Revenge is illustrated by Wendy Wigley, a local artist who shares our love of the Trannon Valley and it’s often incongruous images!

SONY DSC Iolo’s Revenge ISBN 978-1-910839-24-9 £7.99 Available from Fircone Books, The Holme, Church Rd, Eardisley,  HR3 6NJ, United Kingdom.   Tel:+44(0)1544 327182

Buy today on-line from:Logaston Press



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


The Sheepdog’s Apprentice

Pedro is more of a general-purpose farm-dog and having a little helper is as much of a trial as a boon. But there is nothing like showing another what you do to make you realise what a full and interesting life you lead.

Pedro and the work-experience student

Pedro and the work-experience student

Marley has come to stay for a couple of weeks while Alison and Dan have a little respite in Spain, he is ten months old and curious and learning to be good.

The sheep took one look at Marley, from a distance and on a lead, and withdrew to the uppermost margin of the field where they gathered, in a defensive formation, ready to stamp their feet and advance as one, heads low, armed for butting, should he approach — they understand dogs completely, especially young ones.

Pedro looked askance at their reaction — the sheep have ignored him for years, ever since the day when he had been placed to block their way — he held his ground like a good dog should and each of them, in turn, jumped over him!

I am taking them for a walk to wear out the youngster but something strange has happened to Pedro — he is in mentor-mode.

Pedro and Marley

He shows Marley the ropes — the fences, the hedges, the tracks.  He shows him all the holes in the fences where the foxes and the badgers come in — he doesn’t have to explain, he just shows him how to sniff them and, by golly, he’s got a good nose!

He sees, with his nose, where the badgers get in from the rain forest-

Thi is where the badgers have burrowed under the fence -- can you smell them??

This is where the badgers have burrowed under the fence — can you smell them??

and what they have done to the pasture — this is the time of the year when the badgers scratch off the turf to feed-up on worms and grubs before winter.


Badger damage — the rootling of the earth pig (Welsh name – smells the same)

This is a run --can you smell a fox -- when we find a good bit we'll roll in it.

This is a run –can you smell a fox — when we find a good bit we’ll roll in it.

He shows him where the toadstools grow.


(No Sue, my last blog had nothing to do with mushrooms, magic or otherwise)

And now we’re going home for tea and a nice lie down — Pedro looks tired, it’s a big responsibility.

Pedro and Marley


Charismatic Canine

Pedro, our dog, ought to have his own blog (not a weblog but a doglog — a glog), but then maybe no-one would ever visit mine.  His posts already get all the likes and comments. SONY DSC When we first moved to Wales, when he was still young and intact and the world was full of willing bitches, Pedro was irrepressible, unrestrainable, clever (he still is) and devious (that too).  He earned us the reputation of the feckless English who could not even control their own dog. In this farming area he should have been shot; you can’t have big, powerful dogs just wandering about: dogs will always be dogs.  The thing was he didn’t just wander; he had purpose and inherent cunning.  He was never seen anywhere near a sheep, although he regularly crossed their fields, he always kept out of sight, a commando — along the stream or in the ditch.  There were no give-away signs of the sheep gathering or running, they didn’t even smell him. While bitches wailed in disappointment angry farmers locked him in barns only to be bedazzled by his escapology; he is always very biddable when caught, it’s a fair cop, chwarae teg in Welsh; he can speak Welsh and do door handles, knobs and latches.  One farmer is still scratching his head, like Sherlock Holmes: you see both doors were locked from the outside and the only window was a good twelve feet from the ground; I’m told he’s taking holy orders, the farmer, not Pedro. 043Ped closeup It was pure charisma that kept him alive; he would boldly approach the man with the shot-gun, wagging his tail, as if he’d known him for years.  Perhaps he had licked his face one night recently when he lay drunk in the hedge while trying to get a bit of shut-eye on his way back from a lock-in at the pub.  Perhaps the farmer recognised in Pedro his own younger self; they do say that the Welsh (careful) are a passionate race and have their own traditional ways of courting, not dissimilar to Pedro’s. Anyway he survived and I have written about his adventures elsewhere.  I’ve never known anyone, human or otherwise, who knows so many people.  He’s a dog who comes home, after a night out, in the post van (You know how postmen feel about dogs).  The postman lets him out at the gate and he trots home. We benefitted indirectly from Pedro’s fame; farmers know a good dog when they see one, even if he is with that damn silly English couple.  When introduced to us at chapel they would say, ‘Oh yes, Pedro’s people.’ SONY DSC But all that changed when something happened down the valley, news of it drifted up on the wind, came through the key hole and under the door, Pedro sniffed, he trembled, he whimpered… To be continued.