Monday, July 11, 2016

No 'pulling the wool over your eyes' in County Kerry -


Whizzing along on the coach past scenery so beautiful it can make you cry,
 one day in the Ring of Kerry is just not enough to take it all in. . . . . . so of course
 I hope to go back, some day!

Sometimes coach tours stop at tourist traps and you come away knowing you
 wasted money and precious time - not so here at the Kells Sheep Center run by
 sheepdog trainer Brendan Ferris.
Watching Brendan in action with two of his Border Collies, Max and Rick,
was extremely educational. . . . .a feast for the eyes treat for about 45 minutes 
in the fresh air (yes, sheep are smelly but who cares when you have a warm,
 sunny day in Ireland), the cost just a few euros per person.

First we were 'introduced' to a mixed group of well trained sheep, different breeds
 found in this area, and let me tell you, there appear to be millions of sheep
 living in and loving these gorgeous Irish hillsides, who could blame them. 
As Brendan called each name, a sheep would step forward and we gleaned
 many interesting facts about each breed.

Brendan told us it takes 12-18 months to train his dogs in the art of sheep herding then
 they work for 8-9 years. He keeps four dogs trained and two learning at all times.  

Each dog responds only to its own set of whistles and calls. Racing up the slope it
 herds the flock left or right, up or down, then resting on its belly when told as when
 driving sheep over long distances all dogs need to rest.

Watching the sheep being herded was absolutely fascinating - these were
 truly hard working dogs. Once trained they sell for high prices as a shepherd is
 nothing without good dogs.


Oh, and wool, how cold and dreary life would be without beautiful soft and fluffy wool!

All photos from the Ring of Kerry - May 2016


13 comments:

  1. Absolutely fascinating, Mary! I learn something new every day. :-) And the photos of Ireland are stunning.

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  2. Beautiful! I would loved to take that tour.

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  3. How I would love going here. It reminds me so much of a demonstration I once attended in New Zealand on sheep and dogs. Love it all. What a treat you had in that beautiful country.

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  4. I love sheep .. they are so cute to look at and wooly to feel .. I cannot imagine how people can eat lamb :(
    The farmer up the road from where I lived in NY had a few sheep, and some exotic ones too ... crazy long hair on them. He also had Highland Cattle .. in New York :)
    Now I am in Florida, it is too hot for the sheep :)

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  5. Beautiful countryside. I could cuddle with several of those sheep. ;-)

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  6. I love the Ring of Kerry. Of course, it was years ago that I got to visit there but the memories are vivid still. Thanks for bringing them back for me.

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  7. Watching sheep dogs working is amazing, we have sheepdog trials up at Longshaw (10 minutes from me) in early September and I've watched them competing up there usually with particularly uncooperative sheep:) I haven't been for a year or two but might try and go this year. There's nothing like standing on a wet, windy hillside watching the dogs - of course it might actually be warm and sunny but I shan't be holding my breath!

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  8. Dear Mary, Oh how I wish that I could have been there. I would have been fascinated with the dogs. I can't believe that the sheep know their names and step forward when called. I can see why you love it there so much.

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  9. What gorgeous countryside! Sheepdogs fascinate me...have always wanted a border collie. Perhaps they could round up groundhogs and squirrels around here!

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  10. Thank you for this beautiful post! Sheep farming is still very much done up in Yorkshire (England), too, where I am going to spend two weeks at the end of this and beginning of next month. The landscape there is also very beautiful, with dry stone walls separating fields and green hills and heather. I am sure you'd love it! Or maybe you've been?
    Looks like although you did not have much time there, you invested that time well!

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  11. It's nice to see sheep who are living the way they should. Such a beautiful area. And the herding dogs are definitely and loyal and hard working breed.

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  12. Amazing stuff! Gorgeous photos! I will love to spend some time there!

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  13. A lovely post....thank you. I love sheep and I miss having them here on our farm. It would be quite fascinating to watch the dogs herd the sheep. Oh, to go to Ireland.........I am so glad you were able to make this trip and share it with us.
    Farm Gal in VA

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