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

Ecology, Nature Photography

New Worlds above the Flood

It’s been raining quite a lot.  Between storms I’ve been having a new look at the world.

The stream is swollen and down the valley they complain that the drumming of the river keeps them awake at night.


We’ve moved our flock to higher ground to keep their feet dry and when the low winter sun comes out, which it has been doing quite often, every sheep has a silver lining:

?????????????????????????????We’ve been making the most of the sunny periods by cutting back the hedge rows so that the grass can grow with more light although we still need shelter for the beasts and privacy for lambing; behind the hedges we’re cutting back  the low branches and brambles that will whip us in the eye and snag us as we give assistance in the spring.

Winter working reveals aspects of the wildlife with which we share this land that are overshadowed or covered at other times of the year. Hover over these pictures for details:

Today I have been looking in a bit more detail at the moulds and fungi that surround us, if any of you recognise the species I’d love to hear from you – leave a comment.

Here are some mosses and lichen.   After the fall, some of the hawthorn and damson trees reveal so much lichen that they seem to be in blossom!

A whole world can exist on the top of a gatepost!

Gatepost with mini rain-forest

Gatepost with mini rain-forest of lichens and moss