Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Annual Procession to the Summer Pastures

Alexander Carmichael the 19th century Scottish folklorist  describes the annual procession to the summer pastures this way:

On the first day of May the people of the crofter townland are up betimes and busy as bees about to swarm. This is the day of migrating, bho baile gu beinn (from townland to moorland), from the winter homestead to the summer sheiling. The summer of their joy is come, the summer of the sheiling, the song, the pipe and the dance, when the people ascend the hill to the clustered bothies, overlooking the distant sea from among the fronded ferns and fragrant heather, where neighbour meets neighbour, and lover meets lover.

The animals were driven in procession with the sheep leading, the cattle following, according to their ages, with the goats next and the horses last. The men carried the tools needed to repair the summer huts while the women brought the bedding, food supplies and cooking utensils. They hiked up their skirts to enable them to walk with greater ease. Once they reached the summer grazing ground and finished their errands, they feasted on an unblemished male lamb killed that day. Then the prayed. The Protestants called on the Holy Trinity but the Catholics also invoked St Michael of the three-cornered shield and flaming sword; St Columba, guardian of the cattle; Bride, the foster-mother of Christ; and the Virgin, mother of the White Lamb.

As the people intone their prayers on the lonely hillside, literally in the wilderness, the music of their evensong floats over glen and dell, loch and stream, and is echoed from corrie and cliff till it is lost on the soft evening air.


Travelling moorland, travelling townland,
Travelling mossland long and wide,
Be the herding of God the Son about your feet,
Safe and whole may ye home return,
Be the herding of God the Son about your feet,
Safe and whole may ye home return.

The sanctuary of Carmac and of Columba
Be protecting you going and coming,
And of the milkmaid of the soft palms,
Bride of the clustering hair golden brown,
And of the milkmaid of the soft palms,
Bride of the clustering hair golden brown.


Siubhal beinne, siubhal baile,
Siubhal featha fada, farsuinn,
Buachailleachd Mhic De mu'r casaibh,
Buan is reidh gun teid sibh dachaidh,
Buachailleachd Mhic De mu'r casaibh,
Buan is reidh gun teid sibh dachaidh.

Comraig Charmaig is Chaluim-chille
Bhith d'ar tearmad a falbh's a tilleadh,
Agus banachaig nam basa mine,
Bride nan or chiabh donn,
Agus banachaig nam basa mine,
Bride nan or chiabh donn.


May Mary the mild keep the sheep,
May Bride the calm keep the sheep,
May Columba keep the sheep,
May Maolruba keep the sheep,
May Carmac keep the sheep,
From the fox and the wolf.

May Oran keep the kine,
May Modan keep the kine,
May Donnan keep the kine,
May Moluag keep the kine,
May Maolruan keep the kine,
On soft land and hard land.

May the Spirit of peace preserve the flocks,
May the Son of Mary Virgin preserve the flocks,
May the God of glory preserve the flocks,
May the Three preserve the flocks,
From wounding and from death-loss,
From wounding and from death-loss.


Gun gleidheadh Moire min an ciob,
Gun gleidheadh Bride bith an ciob,
Gun gleidheadh Calum-cille an ciob,
Gun gleidheadh Maol-ribhe an ciob,
Gun gleidheadh Carmag an ciob,
O'n mhi-chu 's o'n mharbh-chu.

Gun gleidheadh Odhran an crodh,
Gun gleidheadh Maodhan an crodh,
Gun gleidheadh Donnan an crodh,
Gun gleidheadh Moluag an crodh,
Gun gleidheadh Maolruan an crodh,
Am boglach's an crualach.

Gun gleidheadh Spiorad foir an treud,
Gun gleidheadh Mac Moir Oigh an treud,
Gun gleidheadh Ti na gloir an treud,
Gun gleidheadh an Teoir an treud,
Bho reubain 's bho mhearchall,
Bho reubain's bho mhearchall.

From the CARMINA GADELICA by ALEXANDER CARMICHAEL. This material was gathered n the Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland between 1855 and 1910. This work consists of old lore and it forms a small part of a large mass of oral literature written down from the recital of men and women throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, from Arran to Caithness, from Perth to St Kilda.

I saw a shole of shepherds outgo....

‘Siker this morrow, no longer ago,
I saw a shole of shepherds outgo
With singing, and shouting, and jolly cheer;
Before them yode a lusty Tabrere,
That to the many a horn-pipe play'd,
Where to they dance each one with his maid.
To see these folks make such jouissance,
Made my heart after the pipe to dance.
Then to the greenwood they speeden them all,
To fetchen home May with their musical:
And home they bring him in a royal throne
Crowned as king; and his queen attone
Was Lady Flora, on whom did attend
A fair flock of fairies, and a fresh bend
Of lovely nymphs—0 that I were there
To helpen the ladies their May-bush to bear!

From Shepherd's Calendar, Eclogue 5.
 Edmund Spenser's The Shepheardes Calendar (1579)
Twelve eclogues, one for each month of the year

Happy May Day Tomorrow!

The month of May was come,
when every lusty heart beginneth
to blossom, and to bring forth fruit;
for like as herbs and trees
bring forth fruit and flourish in May,
in likewise every lusty heart
that is in any manner a lover,
springeth and flourisheth in lusty
For it giveth unto all lovers courage,
that lusty month of May.

- Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur, 1485


Unite and unite and let us all unite,
For summer is acome unto day,
And whither we are going we will all unite,
In the merry morning of May.

Arise up Mr. ---- I know you well afine,
For summer is acome unto day,
You have a shilling in your purse and I wish it was in mine
In the merry morning of May.

All out of your beds,
For summer is acome unto day,
Your chamber shall be strewed with the white rose and the red,
In the merry morning of May.

Where are the young men that here now should dance,
For summer is acome unto day,
Some they are in England and some they are in France
In the merry morning of May.

Where are the maidens that here now should sing
For summer is acome unto day,
They are in the meadows the flowers gathering,
In the merry morning of May.

Arise up Mr. ---- with your sword by your side,
For summer is acome unto day,
Your steed is in the stable awaiting for to ride
In the merry morning of May.

Arise up Miss ---- and strew all your flowers,
For summer is acome unto day,
It is but a while ago since we have strewed ours
In the merry morning of May.

O! where is St. George,
O, where is he O?
He is out in his long-boat all on the salt sea O.
Up flies the kite and down falls the lark O,
Aunt Ursula Birdhood she had an old ewe
And she died in her own Park O.

With the merry ring, adieu the merry spring,
For summer is acome unto day,
How happy is the little bird that merrily doth sing
In the merry morning of May.

The young men of Padstow might if they would,
For summer is acome unto day,
They might have built a ship and gilded her with gold
In the merry morning of May.

The young women of Padstow might if they would,
For summer is acome unto day,
They might have made a garland with the white rose and the red,
In the merry morning of May.

Arise up Mr. ---- and reach me your hand,
For summer is acome unto day,
And you shall have a lively lass with a thousand pounds in hand
In the merry morning of May.

Arise up Miss ---- all in your cloak of silk,
For summer is acome unto day,
And all your body under as white as any milk,
In the merry morning of May.

O! where is St. George,
O, where is he O?
He is out in his long-boat all on the salt sea O.
Up flies the kite and down falls the lark O,
Aunt Ursula Birdhood she had an old ewe
And she died in her own Park O.

With the merry ring, adieu the merry spring,
For summer is acome unto day,
How happy is the little bird that merrily doth sing
In the merry morning of May.

Now fare you well and bid you all good cheer,
For summer is acome unto day,
We call no more unto your house before another year
In the merry morning of May.

NIGHT SONG (unaccompanied)

Unite and unite and let us all unite,
For summer is acome unto day,
And whither we are going we will all unite,
In the merry morning of May.

I warn you young men everyone
For summer is acome unto day,
To go to the green-wood and fetch your May home
In the merry morning of May.

Arise up Mr. ---- and joy you betide
For summer is acome unto day,
And bright is your bride that lies by your side,
In the merry morning of May.

Arise up Mrs. ---- and gold be your ring,
For summer is acome unto day,
And give to us a cup of ale the merrier we shall sing,
In the merry morning of May.

Arise up Miss ---- all in your gown of green
For summer is acome unto day,
You are as fine a lady as wait upon the Queen,
In the merry morning of May.

Now fare you well, and we bid you all good cheer,
For summer is acome unto day,
We call once more unto your house before another year,
In the merry morning of May.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


How pleasant in winter to sit by the hob
Listening to the sounds and the bark of a dog
Or in summer to wander the wide valleys through
And to pick the wild flowers in the May morning dew

Summer is coming, Oh, Summer is near
With the leaves on the trees and the sky blue and clear
And the small birds are singing their fond notes so true
And the wild flowers are springing in the May morning dew

The house I was born in is but a stone on a stone
And all round the garden the weeds they have grown
And all the fine neighbours that ever I knew
Like the red rose have perished in the May morning dew.

God be with the old folk, they are all dead and gone
And likewise my brothers, young Denis and John
As we tripped thrugh the heather, wild hares to pursue
Our joys they did mingle in the May morning dew

Beltane or May Day Fires in Scotland

In the Central Highlands of Scotland bonfires, known as the Beltane fires, were formerly kindled with great ceremony on the first of May, and the traces of human sacrifices at them were particularly clear and unequivocal. The custom of lighting the bonfires lasted in various places far into the eighteenth century, and the descriptions of the ceremony by writers of that period present such a curious and interesting picture of ancient heathendom surviving in our own country that I will reproduce them in the words of their authors. The fullest of the descriptions is the one bequeathed to us by John Ramsay, laird of Ochtertyre, near Crieff, the patron of Burns and the friend of Sir Walter Scott. He says: “But the most considerable of the Druidical festivals is that of Beltane, or May-day, which was lately observed in some parts of the Highlands with extraordinary ceremonies. … Like the other public worship of the Druids, the Beltane feast seems to have been performed on hills or eminences. They thought it degrading to him whose temple is the universe, to suppose that he would dwell in any house made with hands. Their sacrifices were therefore offered in the open air, frequently upon the tops of hills, where they were presented with the grandest views of nature, and were nearest the seat of warmth and order. And, according to tradition, such was the manner of celebrating this festival in the Highlands within the last hundred years. But since the decline of superstition, it has been celebrated by the people of each hamlet on some hill or rising ground around which their cattle were pasturing. Thither the young folks repaired in the morning, and cut a trench, on the summit of which a seat of turf was formed for the company. And in the middle a pile of wood or other fuel was placed, which of old they kindled with tein-eigin—i.e., forced-fire or need-fire. Although, for many years past, they have been contented with common fire, yet we shall now describe the process, because it will hereafter appear that recourse is still had to the tein-eigin upon extraordinary emergencies.

“The night before, all the fires in the country were carefully extinguished, and next morning the materials for exciting this sacred fire were prepared. The most primitive method seems to be that which was used in the islands of Skye, Mull, and Tiree. A well-seasoned plank of oak was procured, in the midst of which a hole was bored. A wimble of the same timber was then applied, the end of which they fitted to the hole. But in some parts of the mainland the machinery was different. They used a frame of green wood, of a square form, in the centre of which was an axle-tree. In some places three times three persons, in others three times nine, were required for turning round by turns the axle-tree or wimble. If any of them had been guilty of murder, adultery, theft, or other atrocious crime, it was imagined either that the fire would not kindle, or that it would be devoid of its usual virtue. So soon as any sparks were emitted by means of the violent friction, they applied a species of agaric which grows on old birch-trees, and is very combustible. This fire had the appearance of being immediately derived from heaven, and manifold were the virtues ascribed to it. They esteemed it a preservative against witch-craft, and a sovereign remedy against malignant diseases, both in the human species and in cattle; and by it the strongest poisons were supposed to have their nature changed.

“After kindling the bonfire with the tein-eigin the company prepared their victuals. And as soon as they had finished their meal, they amused themselves a while in singing and dancing round the fire. Towards the close of the entertainment, the person who officiated as master of the feast produced a large cake baked with eggs and scalloped round the edge, called am bonnach bea-tine—i.e., the Beltane cake. It was divided into a number of pieces, and distributed in great form to the company. There was one particular piece which whoever got was called cailleach beal-tine—i.e., the Beltane carline, a term of great reproach. Upon his being known, part of the company laid hold of him and made a show of putting him into the fire; but the majority interposing, he was rescued. And in some places they laid him flat on the ground, making as if they would quarter him. Afterwards, he was pelted with egg-shells, and retained the odious appellation during the whole year. And while the feast was fresh in people’s memory, they affected to speak of the cailleach beal-tine as dead.”

In the parish of Callander, a beautiful district of Western Perthshire, the Beltane custom was still in vogue towards the end of the eighteenth century. It has been described as follows by the parish minister of the time: “Upon the first day of May, which is called Beltan, or Baltein day, all the boys in a township or hamlet, meet in the moors. They cut a table in the green sod, of a round figure, by casting a trench in the ground, of such circumference as to hold the whole company. They kindle a fire, and dress a repast of eggs and milk in the consistence of a custard. They knead a cake of oatmeal, which is toasted at the embers against a stone. After the custard is eaten up, they divide the cake into so many portions, as similar as possible to one another in size and shape, as there are persons in the company. They daub one of these portions all over with charcoal, until it be perfectly black. They put all the bits of the cake into a bonnet. Every one, blindfold, draws out a portion. He who holds the bonnet, is entitled to the last bit. Whoever draws the black bit, is the devoted person who is to be sacrificed to Baal, whose favour they mean to implore, in rendering the year productive of the sustenance of man and beast. There is little doubt of these inhuman sacrifices having been once offered in this country, as well as in the east, although they now pass from the act of sacrificing, and only compel the devoted person to leap three times through the flames; with which the ceremonies of this festival are closed.”

Thomas Pennant, who travelled in Perthshire in the year 1769, tells us that “on the first of May, the herdsmen of every village hold their Bel-tien, a rural sacrifice. They cut a square trench on the ground, leaving the turf in the middle; on that they make a fire of wood, on which they dress a large caudle of eggs, butter, oatmeal and milk; and bring besides the ingredients of the caudle, plenty of beer and whisky; for each of the company must contribute something. The rites begin with spilling some of the caudle on the ground, by way of libation: on that every one takes a cake of oatmeal, upon which are raised nine square knobs, each dedicated to some particular being, the supposed preserver of their flocks and herds, or to some particular animal, the real destroyer of them: each person then turns his face to the fire, breaks off a knob, and flinging it over his shoulders, says, ‘This I give to thee, preserve thou my horses; this to thee, preserve thou my sheep; and so on.’ After that, they use the same ceremony to the noxious animals: ‘This I give to thee, O fox! spare thou my lambs; this to thee, O hooded crow! this to thee, O eagle!’ When the ceremony is over, they dine on the caudle; and after the feast is finished, what is left is hid by two persons deputed for that purpose; but on the next Sunday they reassemble, and finish the reliques of the first entertainment.”

Another writer of the eighteenth century has described the Beltane festival as it was held in the parish of Logierait in Perthshire. He says: “On the first of May, O.S., a festival called Beltan is annually held here. It is chiefly celebrated by the cow-herds, who assemble by scores in the fields, to dress a dinner for themselves, of boiled milk and eggs. These dishes they eat with a sort of cakes baked for the occasion, and having small lumps in the form of nipples, raised all over the surface.” In this last account no mention is made of bonfires, but they were probably lighted, for a contemporary writer informs us that in the parish of Kirkmichael, which adjoins the parish of Logierait on the east, the custom of lighting a fire in the fields and baking a consecrated cake on the first of May was not quite obsolete in his time. We may conjecture that the cake with knobs was formerly used for the purpose of determining who should be the “Beltane carline” or victim doomed to the flames. A trace of this custom survived, perhaps, in the custom of baking oatmeal cakes of a special kind and rolling them down hill about noon on the first of May; for it was thought that the person whose cake broke as it rolled would die or be unfortunate within the year. These cakes, or bannocks as we call them in Scotland, were baked in the usual way, but they were washed over with a thin batter composed of whipped egg, milk or cream, and a little oatmeal. This custom appears to have prevailed at or near Kingussie in Inverness-shire.

In the north-east of Scotland the Beltane fires were still kindled in the latter half of the eighteenth century; the herdsmen of several farms used to gather dry wood, kindle it, and dance three times “southways” about the burning pile. But in this region, according to a later authority, the Beltane fires were lit not on the first but on the second of May, Old Style. They were called bone-fires. The people believed that on that evening and night the witches were abroad and busy casting spells on cattle and stealing cows’ milk. To counteract their machinations, pieces of rowan-tree and woodbine, but especially of rowan-tree, were placed over the doors of the cow-houses, and fires were kindled by every farmer and cottar. Old thatch, straw, furze, or broom was piled in a heap and set on fire a little after sunset. While some of the bystanders kept tossing the blazing mass, others hoisted portions of it on pitchforks or poles and ran hither and thither, holding them as high as they could. Meantime the young people danced round the fire or ran through the smoke shouting, “Fire! blaze and burn the witches; fire! fire! burn the witches.” In some districts a large round cake of oat or barley meal was rolled through the ashes. When all the fuel was consumed, the people scattered the ashes far and wide, and till the night grew quite dark they continued to run through them, crying, “Fire! burn the witches.”

In the Hebrides “the Beltane bannock is smaller than that made at St. Michael’s, but is made in the same way; it is no longer made in Uist, but Father Allan remembers seeing his grandmother make one about twenty-five years ago. There was also a cheese made, generally on the first of May, which was kept to the next Beltane as a sort of charm against the bewitching of milk-produce. The Beltane customs seem to have been the same as elsewhere. Every fire was put out and a large one lit on the top of the hill, and the cattle driven round it sunwards (dessil), to keep off murrain all the year. Each man would take home fire wherewith to kindle his own.”

Sir James George Frazer (1854–1941). The Golden Bough. 1922.

1st May - May Day and the May Pole

This is traditionally a day of great merry-making - the most well-known celebration being dancing around the maypole. The ribbon-plaiting dance we know today only began in the 19th century. Before that people used to dance in a ring around a large pole.

Another custom was for young men and women to go out on May Day Eve to collect may (hawthorn) blossom, flowers and blackthorn blossom. A young girl was elected Queen of the May and she presided over the May Day celebrations, which included mumming, morris and molly dances. Gingerbread was traditionally eaten on this day.

In Padstow in Cornwall two hobby horses dance through the streets. The Padstow May Carol is sung to welcome the summer.


Te Deum Patrem colimus;,
Te laudibus prosequimur;
Qui corpus cibo reficis,
Caelesti mentem gratia.

Te adoramus, O Jesu!
Te, fili unigenite,
Te, qui non dedignatus est,
Subire claustra Virginis.

Actus in Crucem, factus es
Irato Deo Victima;
Per Te, Salvator unice,
Vitae. acterne Spiritus,
Cujus afflatu perperit
Infantem Deum Maria,
Aeternum benedicimus.
Triune Deus hominum,
Salutis Auctor optime,
Immenensum hoe mysterium
Ovante lingua canimus.


Rise up the members of this house
Together come as we
For the summer springs so fresh and green and gay
We'll sing you all a blossom
And a bud on every spring
Drawing near to the merry month of May

Rise up the master of this house
All in your chain of gold
We hope you're not offended
With your house we make so bold

Rise up the mistress of this house
With gold all on your breast
And if your body is asleep
We hope your soul's at rest

Rise up the children of this house
All in your rich attire
And every hair upon your head
Shines like a silver wire

God bless this house and all its kin
Its riches and its store
We hope that you will prosper here
Both now and evermore

(The Copper Family)

Monday, April 28, 2008

May Carol/The Caroling March

I've been a-wandering all the night
And the best part of the day
Now I'm returning home again
I bring you a branch of May

A branch of May, I bring you, my love
Here at your door I stand
It's nothing but a sprout, but it's well budded out
By the work of the Lord's own hand

In my pocket I've got a purse
Tied up with a silver string
All that I do need is a bit of silver
To line it well within

My song is done and I must be gone
I can no longer stay
God bless you all both great and small
And send you a joyful May

May Day Carol

The moon shines bright, the stars give a light
A little before tis day
Our Heavenly Father, he called to us
And bid us awake and pray

Awake, awake, oh pretty, pretty maid
Out of your drowsy dream
And step into your dairy below
And fetch me a bowl of cream

If not a bowl of thy sweet cream
A cup to bring me cheer
For the Lord knows when we shall meet again
To go Maying another year

I have been wandering all this night
And some time of this day
And now returning home again
I've brought you a branch of May

A branch of May I've brought you here
And at your door I stand
'Tis nothing but a sprout, but it's well budded out
By the work of our Lord's hand

My song is done and I must be gone
No longer can I stay
So it's God bless you all, both great and small
And send you a joyful May

May Day or Beltane

The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian Europe, as in the Celtic celebration of Beltane, and the Walpurgis Night of the Germanic countries. Many pre-Christian indigenous celebrations were eventually banned or Christianized during the process of Christianization in Europe. As a result, a more secular version of the holiday continued to be observed in the schools and churches of Europe well into the 20th century. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the Maypole and crowning of the Queen of the May. Today various Neopagan groups celebrate reconstructed (to varying degrees) versions of these customs on 1 May.

The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of Spring (season), May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer. In the Roman Catholic tradition, May is observed as Mary's month, and in these circles May Day is usually a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this connection, in works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary's head will often be adorned with flowers. Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of "May baskets," small baskets of sweets and/or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbors' doorsteps.

Nice Spring Showers

The Milkmaid's Life

Upon the first of May,
With Garlands fresh and gay
They nimbly their feet do ply,
In honour of Th' milking paile.
-c1640 (Anon.)

Oh happy day, this drizzle is greening up everything. April showers bring May flowers as the old saying goes. The farmers here have been plowing and its about time to think about planting. The soil was dry as a bone from a week of the heat! We haven't had any thunder or heavy rain here in this part of Chautauqua County today just drizzle.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Today is the Orthodox Church's Easter

Happy Easter  (Pascha ) to all of you Orthodox Christians!

The Weaving of the Tartan

I saw an old Dame weaving,
Weaving, weaving
I saw an old Dame weaving,
A web of tartan fine.
"Sing high," she said, "sing low," she said,
"Wild torrent to the sea,
That saw my exiled bairnies torn,
In sorrow far frae me.

And warp well the long threads,
The bright threads, the strong threads;
Woof well the cross threads,
To make the colours shine."
She wove in red for every deed,
Of valour done for Scotia's need:
She wove in green, the laurel's sheen,
In memory of her glorious dead.

She spake of Alma's steep incline,
The desert march, the "thin red line,"
Of how it fired the blood and stirred the heart,
Where'er a bairn of hers took part.
"'Tis for the gallant lads," she said,
"Who wear the kilt and tartan plaid:
'Tis for the winsome lasses too,
Just like my dainty bells of blue.

So weave well the bright threads,
The red threads, the green threads;
Woof well the strong threads
That bind their hearts to mine."
I saw an old Dame sighing,
Sighing, sighing;
I saw an old Dame sighing,
Beside a lonely glen.

"Sing high," she said, "sing low," she said,
Wild tempests to the sea,
The wailing of the pibroch's note,
That bade farewell to me.
And wae fa' the red deer,
The swift deer, the strong deer,
Wae fa' the cursed deer,
That take the place o' men."

Where'er a noble deed is wrought,
Where'er the brightest realms of thought,
The artists' skill, the martial thrill,
Be sure to Scotia's land is wed.
She casts the glamour of her name,
O'er Britain's throne and statesman's fame;
From distant lands 'neath foreign names,
Some brilliant son his birthright claims.

For ah! - she has reared them amid tempests,
And cradled them in snow,
To give the Scottish arms their strength,
Their hearts a kindly glow.
So weave well the bright threads,
The red threads, the green threads.
Woof well the strong threads
That bind their hearts to thine.

By Alice Macdonell of Keppoch. 

In this poem the tartan is symbolic of the many threads which go to make up Scotland and which bind Scots, whether at home or scattered around the globe, to their homeland and to other Scots. Alice MacDonell wrote a number of poems which were published in magazines at the end of the 19th century. This poem was published in 1894, though it may have been written at an earlier date. The MacDonells of Keppoch go back to the 14th century when they were granted the Isle of Lewis by David II in 1343.


O this is nae my plaid, my plaid, my plaid,
O this is nae my plaid, bonnie tho' the colour be.

The ground of mine wis mixed wi blue
I got it frae the lad I lo'e
He ne'er has gi'en me cause to rue
An O the plaid is dear to me.

For mine was silky saft an warm,
It rap't me roun frae arm to arm,
An like himsel it bore a charm
An O the plaid is dear to me.

Frae surly blasts it covers me
He'll me himsel protection gie
I'll lo'e him till the day I de'e
His plaid shall aye be dear to me.

The time may come my ain dear lad
When we will to the kirk and wad
Wed happit in thy tartan plaid
That plaid shall aye be dear to me.

For this will then be my plaid
My plaid my plaid
O this will then be my plaid
An while I live shall ever be.

Sung by Aileen Carr

Before the 18th century most sheep in Scotland were the now extinct "Highland Sheep" variety most like more primative examples of the Soay, Hebridean and Shetland breeds. These sheep produced wool which was naturally shed - a bit like a dog's coat - and therefore had to be gathered or pulled-out, rather than shorn. This was called rooing. The white sheep in particular would be useful since the wool could be more easily dyed. During the 18th century new breeds were introduced into the Highlands - the Scottish Blackface and the Cheviot sheep. When the wool was woven into material, it produced a much coarser tartan than the fine quality tartan woven today

The Highland Crofter

Frae Kenmore tae Ben More
The land is a' the Marquis's;
The mossy howes, the heathery knowes
An' ilka bonnie park is his;
The bearded goats, the towsie stots,
An' a' the braxie carcases;
Ilk crofter's rent, ilk tinkler's tent,
An ilka collie's bark is his;
The muir-cock's craw, the piper's blaw,
The ghillie's hard day's wark is his;
Frae Kenmore tae Ben More
The warld is a' the Marquis's.

The fish that swim, the birds that skim,
The fir, the ash, the birk is his;
The Castle ha' sae big and braw,
Yon diamond-crusted dirk is his;
The roofless hame, a burning shame,
The factor's dirty wark is his;
The poor folk vexed, the lawyer's text,
Yon smirking legal shark is his;
Frae Kenmore tae Ben More
The warld is a' the Marquis's.

But near, mair near, God's voice we hear -
The dawn as weel's the dark is His;
The poet's dream, the patriot's theme,
The fire that lights the mirk is His.
They clearly show God's mills are slow
But sure the handiwork is His;
And in His grace our hope we place;
Fair Freedom's sheltering ark is His.
The men that toil should own the soil -
A note as clear's the lark is this -
Breadalbane's land - the fair, the grand -
Will no' be aye the Marquis's.

Unknown author

Meaning of unusual words:
howes=valley, glen
knowes=knoll, hillock
towsie stots=shaggy young bull
braxie=diseased mutton
birk=birch tree

My Border Collie, Lucy

Saturday, April 26, 2008


The land is white, an' far awa'
Abune ae bush an' tree
Nae fit is movin' i' the snaw
On the hills I canna see;
For the sun may shine an' the darkness fa',
But aye it's nicht to me.

I hear the whaup on windy days
Cry up amang the peat
Whaur, on the road that speels the braes,
I've heard my ain sheep's feet,
An' the bonnie lambs wi' their canny ways
An' the silly yowes that bleat.

But noo wi' them I mauna' be,
An' by the fire I bide,
To sit and listen patiently
For a fit on the great hillside,
A fit that'll come to the door for me
Doon through the pasture wide,

Maybe I'll hear the baa'in' flocks
Ae nicht when time seems lang,
An' ken there's a step on the scattered rocks
The fleggit sheep amang,
An' a voice that cries an' a hand that knocks
To bid me rise an' gang.

Then to the hills I'll lift my een
Nae matter tho' they're blind,
For Ane will treid the stanes between
And I will walk behind,
Till up, far up i' the midnicht keen
The licht o' Heaven I'll find.

An' maybe, when I'm up the hill
An' stand abune the steep,
I'll turn aince mair to look my fill
On my ain auld flock o' sheep,
An' I'll leave them lyin' sae white an' still
On the quiet braes asleep.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Wonderful Painting by William Watson

Predators in Action an Ironic Truth

I have been thinking allot about the death of the animal trainer Stephan Miller yesterday. I feel the need to make some comments about this tragedy. It is all over the news about how Randy Miller's cousin Stephen Miller was killed by the five year old, hand-reared grizzly bear the Millers kept at their place of business called "Predators in Action". This man was killed during the filming of a commercial using this 700 pound grizzly bear. It seems more than ironic they called the business Predators in Action because that is just what we saw yesterday. We saw an adult, male grizzly bear very cleanly and quickly kill a human which for a grizzly is as natural as breathing. That is what these bears were designed to do. In my opinion it should not be legal to keep a grizzly bear for any other purpose but to save the species or educate the public in a facility like an accredited zoo. It is cruel to make a predator like this live such a unnatural life and for a bear to be forced to perform for the profit of its owners. It matters not that the Millers loved this bear. It does not matter that the bear seemed to return the affection. None of that is of any import because it breaks all the laws of nature to pervert a predators natural ways of living into a commercial venture. This was a mature male predator kept in a very confined, unnatural setting and made to do things that are very unnatural for a bear. One thing I have learned from raising animals for 25 years is that first and foremost you must show respect for an animal especially for one more powerful than yourself. Secondly I have learned the most dangerous animals are those fostered by humans and reared in situation where they are taught to have no fear of people. Thirdly, I have learned that adult male animals should be respected even more and given a great deal of consideration and space. What the Millers did is take a very big gamble and they lost and lost big. It's silly to keep repeating how careful and experienced they were with training large predators and what a good safety record they had. There is no way to be safe and do what they were doing. I had a friend killed by an male bison she raised on a bottle. She too loved her animal and it loved her, but when it was in a situation where it's instincts took over it took her life. The most dangerous animal I ever owned was a Scottish Blackface ram that I reared on a bottle because its dam had no milk. I ended up having to slaughter it because it tried to kill me when it matured. Something interesting I have found is that often the average age these animals turn aggressive is exactly five, the age of this grizzly bear that killed Stephan Miller . It seems that five years is just enough time for these animals to figure out how we tick and to know their own strength. My ultimate point in this is that keeping a bear like this is exactly like playing Russian Roulette. At some point the bullet will be in the chamber after you spin the cylinder enough times. Stephan Miller really killed himself. He chose death by bear. After all the publicity around the killing of Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend in Alaska you would think people would finally respect North America's most powerful land predator and learn to love it from a distance. I looked at the macho personal web page today of Randy Miller which plays heavy metal music and shows a avatar of himself in the embrace of a grizzly and I thought, "Hmmm another arrogant human once more living outside nature not in it." Let us humans begin a new age where people truly respect wild animals and stop trying to use them in ways that are not in their best interest. With all the fantastic special effects that can be done digitally there is no reason to use these animals in movie production in close contact with people. It's obscene to risk human life and treat wild animals this way just to make money. This male grizzly was doomed the minute he was fed by humans. It's sad but true. What ever its fate be it that he is killed or kept alive his life is so far from what nature intended it cannot be considered a life fit for the king of North American land predators. If you love the grizzly bear you cannot see keeping them as trained performers as humane or righteous. I am truly sorry for the family of Stephan Miller and no way mean to be less than respectful. I do feel sympathy for his loved ones but I hope this horrible tragedy will change the way things are done in Hollywood and hope it will change peoples minds about how bears are handled. Doing some research I have found that Randy Miller has disposed of a number of big cats and bears through the private exotic animal trade which is very sad. Many of those animals end up on shooting ranches in TX and Florida. Predators in Action has been cited by the USDA for numerous noncompliances with the federal Animal Welfare Act--including failure to comply with veterinary care requirements; failure to provide minimum space and shelter from cold, snowy weather; failure to provide a veterinarian-approved diet plan for the big cats; failure to repair outdoor shelters; and failure to provide drinking water. Aerial photos of Miller's property show that the bears are kept in cramped pens.

Randy Miller
Predators in Action
P.O. Box 1691
Big Bear City, CA 92314

Watching this still raises the hair on the back of my neck its like a dress rehearsal for death. I am no fan of PETA but this kind of thing is not what we should be doing with wild animals

Reaching weights of about 400- 1500 lbs, the grizzly bear is mainly nocturnal and in preparation for winter will put on hundreds of pound of fat before going into hibernation. Their coloring ranges from blond to deep brown or black. The grizzly has a large hump over the shoulders which is a muscle mass used to power the forelimbs in digging. The head is large and round with a concave facial profile. In spite of their massive size this bear runs at speeds of up to 35 mph. Being omnivores, they feed on a variety of plants and berries including roots or sprouts and fungi as well as fish, insects and small mammals. Normally a solitary animal, the grizzly congregates alongside streams and rivers during the salmon spawn. Every other year females produce 1-4 young which are small and weigh only about 1 pound.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Favorite Sheep Song, Searching for Lambs

As I went out one May morning,

One May morning betime,

I met a maid from home had strayed,

Just as the sun did shine

What makes you rise so soon, my dear,

Your journey to pursue?

Your pretty little feet they tread so sweet,

Strike off the morning dew.

I'm going to feed my Father's flock,

His young and tender lambs,

That over hills and over dales

Lie waiting for their dams.

O stay! O stay! you handsome maid,

And rest a moment here,

For there is none but you alone

That I do love so dear.

How gloriously the sun doth shine,

How pleasant is the air;

I'd rather rest on a true love's breast

Than any other where.

For I am thine and thou art rnine;

No man shall uncomfort thee.

We'll join our hands in wedded bands

And a-married we will be.

Recorded By

June Tabor

Tony Rose

Maddy Prior

John Renbourn Group

Allan Taylor

Cyril Tawney

The Herdwick Ram by Lesley Quayle

As I unlatched the barn door's creaking hasp,
The grey ewes gathered, hungering, at my back,
Dawn's sallow glimmer pricked the tine and cusp
Of hawthorn crowns and slipped across the beck.
He wasn't in the clamour for fresh hay,
Nor by the mistle, so I went to seek,
Hurrying through the damp grass, till I saw
The great, slumped shadow against the lambing creep.

A rim of light, pale cuticle of day,
Peeled back the shroud of night and, naked, trembled
About his corpse. The scavenging jackdaw
Retreated where the briar thickets scrambled
Down the banking to the weedy waters.
I knelt beside him in the soft churned mire,
Clasping the thick, coiled horns, whorled tortuous
As giant ammonites, and pulled him clear.

Thirteen winters toiling on the fells
Had earned him old age in the lower pasture,
And easy forage from the brimming pails
Of plump, flaked barley; shelter, a placid cluster
Of shearling ewes. He thrived for two more years
Before his withering heart curled like a leaf
And snapped its sinewy stem. Caught unawares,
Hot tears sprung, overwhelming me with grief.

Beneath the rowan tree we dug a pit,
No knacker's hacking blade to slit and skin
The heathery fleece, or spill the ripening gut
In heavy slicks, no splintering of bone
Against blunt cleaver. The sharp spade sliced the turf.
The rowan, giving up its dappled greens
For brief fire, spilled a russet blaze of leaf
And blood-spot berries across the earthy wounds.

The grey ewes move like shadows down the slope,
Blue smoke, straight up, from ashed and riddled fires,
Dogs bark, the wild, black geese reclaim the lake,
A cockerel's cry eviscerates the air.

Lesley Quayle

Lesley Quayle was born in Fife. Daughter of a naval officer, she moved all over Britain, attending eight different schools in six different counties, always returning to the family home in Glasgow whilst her father was abroad on long tours of duty. She finally arrived in Yorkshire in 1982 and has no intention of moving anywhere else. She now lives on a farm near Leeds.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


When a man has shorn a sheep and has set it free, he waves his hand after it and says:- 

Go shorn and come woolly,

Bear the Beltane female lamb,

Be the lovely Bride thee endowing,

And the fair Mary thee sustaining,

The fair Mary sustaining thee.

Michael the chief be shielding thee

From the evil dog and from the fox,

From the wolf and from the sly bear,

And from the taloned birds of destructive bills,

From the taloned birds of hooked bills.


Falbh lom's thig molach,
Beir am boirionn Bealltain,
Bride mhin a bhi dha d' chonaill,
Moire gheal dha t' aurais,
Moire gheal dha t' aurais.

Micheal mil a bhi dha d' dhion
Bho 'n mhi-chu is bho 'n an-chu,
Bho 'n mhac-tir's bho 'n mhadhan stig,
'S bho ianaibh ineach call-ghob,
Bho ianaibh ineach cam-ghob

From the CARMINA GADELICA by ALEXANDER CARMICHAEL.  This material was gathered n the Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland between 1855 and 1910.  This work consists of old lore  and it forms a small part of a large mass of oral literature written down from the recital of men and women throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, from Arran to Caithness, from Perth to St Kilda.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Soon the pastures will come on and the sheep can graze!

Click on the image for a larger View.

From mid-August until December 1852, William Holman Hunt labored over this painting of sheep wandering the cliffs above the English Channel at Fairlight, near Hastings. Hunt exhibited the painting at the Royal Academy in 1853 as Our English Coasts, 1852, he later retitled it Strayed Sheep.

The Samaritans' Passover sacrifice

The Samaritans' Passover sacrifice

A day before the Jewish Seder is held on the eve of the Passover holiday, the Samaritan community gathers on the holy Mount Gerizim in the West Bank to hold the their most important religious ceremony: the Passover sacrifice. Photographer Amnon Kfir documented the ceremony during which every family must sacrifice and eat a lamb.,7340,L-3394699,00.html


"The Samaritans claim that they are the remnant of an ancient people, descended from the Kingdom of Israel. A genetic study (Shen, et al., 2004) concluded from Y-chromosome analysis that Samaritans descend from the Israelites (including Cohen, or priests). Samaritans claim that their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites, predating the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, but Samaritanism has historically been rejected by normative Judaism.

"The split between Samaritans and Jews is dated back to the period of the second Temple. The Samaritans didn't go as captives to Babylonia, so when the Jews returned to Eretz Yisrael they didn't accept the Samaritans as part of the Jewish Nation, so they went to Mount Gerizim and built their Temple.  They kept their faith, even with forced conversion from the Arabs and the Christians. Today they number just under 650, divided about equally between their modern homes on their sacred Mount Gerizim, and the Israeli town of Holon, just outside of Tel Aviv.
"Relations with the surrounding Jews and Palestinians have been mixed. In 1954, Israeli President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi created the Samaritan enclave in Holon but Israeli Samaritans today complain of being treated as "pagans and strangers" by orthodox Jews. Those living in Israel have Israeli citizenship. Samaritans in the Palestinian territories are a recognized minority and they send one representative to the Palestinian parliament. Palestinian Samaritans have been granted passports by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

"They mantain the Hebrew language and they are guided by 4 principles of faith: one God, who is the God of Israel; one prophet, Moses son of Amram; one holy book, the Pentateuch - the Torah handed down by Moses; one holy place, Mount Gerizim. To these is added the belief in the Taheb son of Joseph, prophet like Moses, who will appear on the Day of Vengeance and Recompense in the latter days. Because of this they only have the traditions mentioned in the Torah, and their leaders kept them in a very tight orthodox way."

extracted from ©

Happy Passover

The Broken Matzah

For centuries during the Passover seder in Jewish homes, one of three pieces of unleavened bread, matzah, is broken in half, wrapped in a napkin, hidden, and later retrieved to be served as the last morsel of food eaten at the end of the lengthy observance of this ancient Jewish feast. This bit of unleavened bread is called the "afikomen". It symbolizes the Passover lamb. For Jewish children, the afikomen is used to hold their attention until the end of the seder. In some families the children "steal" the matzah and are paid a ransom in order to get it back to the table. In other families it is hidden and the children search for it and are rewarded. Some Jews from Middle Eastern countries saw the afikomen as having special powers and kept a piece of it as a good luck charm. (Some of this information concerning the afikomen was found in "The Complete Family Guide to Jewish Holidays, by Dalia Hardof Renberg, Adama Books, New York, (c)1985, pages 152-153.)

Though the Passover lamb was central to the feast as described by Moses in the Torah, today there is no lamb eaten at Jewish Passover seders. Why? Because after the destruction of the Temple the Passover sacrifice could no longer be properly made, and so lamb was no longer eaten at the feast. This last piece of matzah, called the afikomen, is substituted for the lamb: it even has to be eaten before midnight, just as Moses commanded, "You shall let none of it remain until morning" (Ex. 12:10).

Three matzahs sit prominently on the Passover table. Why three? some see them as symbolic of the three divisions of the Jewish people: Priests, Levites, and Israelites. Others see them as a reminder of the three Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The middle matzah, the one broken, the one symbolizing the Passover Lamb, would correspond to Isaac. How interesting that Isaac, the miraculously born son of Abraham, was taken to what would become the Temple Mount to be offered as a sacrifice! (See Genesis 18:13-14, 21:1-2, 22:1-18 and 2 Chron. 3:1.)

Why is this final piece of matzah called the "afikomen"? It is curios to find a Greek work in the middle of a Hebrew feast. Its Greek meaning can be understood as "that which is coming", i.e. dessert, yet some have seen the possibility of taking it as "he who is coming." According to Jewish tradition, Messiah will come at Passover to bring a redemption like unto the redemption brought through Moses. This is why a place is left at the table for Elijah, the forerunner of Messiah (Malachi 4:5).

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Passover Roast Lamb

Passover in 2008 will start on Sunday, the 20th of April and will continue for 7 days until Saturday, the 26th of April.

1 shoulder of lamb -- 7 lbs
salt and pepper -- to taste
1 clove garlic -- minced
1/2 c shredded celery leaves
1/3 c cubed green pepper
2 tbsp tomato sauce -- or to taste

Preheat oven to 325F. Rub the meat all over with salt and pepper. Place slivers of garlic between the bone and flesh. Place meat on a rack in a roasting pan, surrounded by celery leaves and green pepper. Allowing 20 min per lb, roast in oven. About 1 hr before it is done, smooth tomato sauce over top of lamb. This will make a crusty skin and add flavor to the gravy.

To make the gravy, drain off all the fat, and remove lamb to a warm place. Add a little water to the pan, leaving in the vegetables, and boil down on top of stove.

Serving Ideas : with asparagus, roasted new potatoes and mint jelly.

NOTES : From _The Jewish Holiday Kitchen_ by Joan Nathan. Schocken Books, New York: 1988

Pesach or Passover begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan. It is the first of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two are Shavu'ot and Sukkot). Agriculturally, it represents the beginning of the harvest season in Israel, but little attention is paid to this aspect of the holiday. The primary observances of Pesach are related to the Exodus from Egypt after generations of slavery. This story is told in Exodus, Ch. 1-15. Many of the Pesach observances are instituted in Chs. 12-15..

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lorenzo : the Flying French Man...

This is so amazing I cried!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

FARE OF THE COUNTRY; Scottish Cheese's Earthy Poetry

FARE OF THE COUNTRY; Scottish Cheese's Earthy Poetry.

This is an piece about cheese in Scotland in todays New York Times.  Few people know it but at one time ewes were milked in Scotland to make cheese and butter.
It seems what is old is new. Have a read here:


Are Ewe Being Served, some sheepish humor.

Dear Mr Evergreen, its thanks tae you
That ah'm a maist satisfied an' pregnant ewe,
Fur efter in yer column there wis mention
That ewes like me were needin' attention.

An' that attention wis o' the sponsorin' kind
A richt guid tug at the heart an' the mind,
Tae exploit me an.' Ma sisters natural needs
Fur the benefit o' the 'Macmillan' nurses deeds.

An' ah let ye ken ah'm boot fit tae burst
Whun ah tell ye ah wis the first,
Tae be marked by yon fine big fit fella
Boy it's a wunner ye never head me bella.

Ah had a nummer sprayed on ma side
No' new lambed, but tae be a Bride!
Ah' ma sisters had the same
But heh! It wis me he taen.

An boy it wis great
Tae reach that climatical state,
Oh kennin' that a Wigtownshire ewe like me
Pit a hunner quid glitter in a Glesga punters ee'.

Ah wis the first in oor flock
An' since ah hae heard o' the talk
O' ither ewes in ither whaurs
Raisin' money wae similar daurs.

Ah hae heard o' ewes up in Perth,
The Borders, Ireland, whaurever there's earth,
Wae ewes at this time o' year needin' served
Readily raisin' fund for a cause maist deserved.

So thanks again Mr Evergreen
I hope you think this note should be seen,
For if you manage tae mak' space for me
Then a Wigtownshire ewe wull hae space for thee.

Ian McHarg
Kirkland, Leswalt

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Scots Dictionary

I post allot of poetry and song in old Scots here.  This is a wonderful website to help you if you would like to look up some of the words:

Wee Black Ram for Sale

Broch is 3 quarters Scottish Blackface and 1 quarter Jacob.  He should look allot like a Scottish Blackface only he will be black.  My guess is he will end up looking allot like a Boreray Blackface or Hebridean Blackface as they are sometimes called.  He may well turn a silver grey with age rather than stay coal black.  He is all I have for sale this year as my ewe lambs were reserved by a shepherd from New York last fall.  This is going to be one handsome ram.  I am asking $250.00 for him as a lamb which is quite modest in todays market.

I was brought up wi' tups and ewes,

I'm no acquaint wi' mealy pows;
I was brought up wi' tups and ewes,
High up amang the heather cowes,
Where winter girns
And naething seen but heighs and howes,
And bent and birns.

I dinna wear a copper nose,
Wi' guzzling down the liquid dose,
But stuff my wame wi' guid kail brose,
To fleg the caul',
Syne strutting in guid plaidin' hose,
I look fu' baul'.

Taken from "Hawick Songs and Song Writers" by Robert Murray 1897

Another shot of Mally and Mum.

Clink on the image for a larger view

Nora's little beauty, Mally!

Clink on the image for a larger view

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

Don't forget the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is coming right up!
May 3  &  4
Howard County Fair Grounds!

We will be there with our sheep and textile Jewelry in our booth where we always have been!

Nice Spring Weather!

A whole week of high Pressure!  Spring is really here! How grand I can turn the ewes out in the yard to catch some sunshine!

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Iraq War

I was reading tonight about the dang Iraq War on the CBS site and It just twists my gut. I was so against this war and as it grinds on we all realize the US can't pull out without dire consequences nor can we continue at the current troop strength. I fear George Bush has set the middle east back 100 years and destabilized the entire region. I fear for Pakistan and Turkey as they are suffering greatly for standing with the US on this illegal war. The piece I was reading was by good old Bob Schaeffer. He was talking about how there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

What came to mind was the poem Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson after reading this article tonight.

Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
`Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!' he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.II.
`Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.III

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.IV

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.V

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.VI

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Beautiful Borders, a shepherd's delight.

This is a slide show I made of photos of the glorious Scottish Borders set to the original harp music of Jo Morrison. The tunes are The Juggler/Courtly Ladies. Jo Morrison is on the Celtic Harp and her husband Wayne is on shuttle pipes. Jo Morrison is well known for her evocative interpretation of Scottish and Irish music on the harp.

To buy this brand new CD, Flights of Fantasy, just out in 2008 follow this link:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Maggie and Moss are keeping me busy.

It's been very busy here. I have had little time to write anything much. Maggie had a very hard delivery and we almost lost her to milk fever. She is slowly getting better after allot of vetting and much TLC, She was unable to take care of her lamb Moss so we are raising Moss in the house on milk replacer. Between the lamb and Maggie I am a bit spent. Maggie is finally eating and drinking on her own and we have stopped the drenches and injections. Hopefully she can take in enough now to gain back the weight she lost. Maggie got her head stuck in a livestock panel five days before she went into labor. She did it at night and so was trapped for about 9 hours before I found her. She fought hard the whole time and that is why she had nothing left when it was time to lamb. She was unable to push so I had to go in and pull the wee ewe lamb by hand.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mae and Mazzie in the shed.

Mae's lamb, Mazzie (Video Clip)

And Suddenly Spring

The winds of March were sleeping.
I hardly felt a thing.
The trees were standing quietly.
It didn't seem like spring.
Then suddenly the winds awoke
They raced across the sky.
They bumped right into April,
Splashing springtime in my eye.

by Margaret Hillert (1920-     )

Monday, April 7, 2008

Lambing came and went in a flash....

Lambing is over here almost as soon as it began. Actually this is how it should be if your ewes are cycling and your ram is potent. Lambing happens all in a cluster and you can move on to the next phase in you shepherd's calendar. We used Murdo our home grown ram this year. Last year we bred to some rams from Maryland to get some new bloodlines into our breeding program. After using them I sold them and kept two nice ewes to breed to Murdo. We only bred four ewes this year because of the price of grain and hay. This is not a serious sheep operation its a hobby farm. We buy all our hay. We had three ewes and one ram born this season and you can hardly be too disappointed with that. My only let down is that Nora had a single unlike last year when she blessed us with twins.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A postcard by Edwin Douglas

Rose and Broch with Aunt Mae!

The Moonsheep

The moonsheep stands upon the clearing.
He waits and waits to get his shearing.
The moonsheep.
The moonsheep plucks himself a blade
returning to his alpine glade.
The moonsheep.
The moonsheep murmurs in his dream:
'I am the cosmos' gloomy scheme.'
The moonsheep.
The moonsheep, in the morn, lies dead.
His flesh is white, the sun is red.
The moonsheep.

Christian Morgenstern
Translated by Max Knight.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Mally's Meek, Mally's Sweet


Chorus-Mally's meek, Mally's sweet,
Mally's modest and discreet;
Mally's rare, Mally's fair,
Mally's every way complete.

As I was walking up the street,
A barefit maid I chanc'd to meet;
But O the road was very hard
For that fair maiden's tender feet.
Mally's meek, &c.

It were mair meet that those fine feet
Were weel laced up in silken shoon;
An' 'twere more fit that she should sit
Within yon chariot gilt aboon,
Mally's meek, &c.

Her yellow hair, beyond compare,
Comes trinklin down her swan-like neck,
And her two eyes, like stars in skies,
Would keep a sinking ship frae wreck,
Mally's meek, &c.

Robert Burns

Friday, April 4, 2008

Nora had a ewe lamb.

Mally's meek, Mally's sweet,
Mally's modest and discreet;
Mally's rare, Mally's fair,
Mally's every way complete.

Nora had a nice ewe lamb this afternoon.  I really thought she had twins in there but it was a single. Nora has a solid black face but she always seems to have brockie faced lambs. There is a photo of the Tup (ram) I used for breeding this year named Murdo at the bottom of this blog. Nora is happy and contented with her lamb and not too stressed.  She is in the lambing pen by herself.  I named this lamb Mallie after the poem by Robert Burns. I moved the others ewes and their lambs out of the lambing jug (pen) to the main pen of the sheep shed now. Nora is cozy in there with her lamb by herself.  Nora is a very fiesty and agressive mum, she does better by herself.

Great old Postcard

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A hard night in the sheep shed.

I had a rough night I had to pull Maggie's lamb. She was in great distress and not pushing at all. It came out without too much trouble as it was not a bad presentation but the head was stuck. As soon as I reached in I found the head and the wee lamb began sucking my finger while still in the womb. After almost 24 hours the lamb was still OK which is pretty wild. Maggie is on her feet but stressed and looking beat. The vet will come in the morning and give her some antibiotics.

At first I thought Maggie was rejecting the lamb as she would not clean it but she was in fact too exhausted to even pay any attention. She seems to be OK with it now but I milked out some colostrum milk and put it in the lamb by hand as a precaution. I guess it will be another all nighter to make sure ewe and lamb are bonding and OK

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Edna St. Vincent Millay - Song Of A Second April

April this year, not otherwise
Than April of a year ago,
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
Of dazzling mud and dingy snow;
Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.

There rings a hammering all day,
And shingles lie about the doors;
In orchards near and far away
The grey wood-pecker taps and bores;
The men are merry at their chores,
And children earnest at their play.

The larger streams run still and deep,
Noisy and swift the small brooks run
Among the mullein stalks the sheep
Go up the hillside in the sun,
Pensively,—only you are gone,
You that alone I cared to keep.

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950)

Rose nuzzles her lamb, Broch.

Broch nurses from his dam, Rose

The Rams Horn

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