The weather picked up, sunshine became the order of the day and the shearing got into full swing.
The gathering was for lamb marking and drawing the hoggs off ready to be shorn. This is one of the most difficult gathers of the year as the lambs have never been disturbed in this fashion before. They are still young and this is their first experience of being gathered. A panic can set in as some of them lose their mothers (I recall when very little I lost my mother in a supermarket, I too began to panic!).
The sheep are set down from the hill and find themselves grouping up untill all the flock are held together in one big bunch, this is when the panic really begins to set in. The shepherd becomes aware of more lambs at the back of the bunch of sheep than there are ewes. These lambs may well try to break back to their hill ground, the area where they last saw their mother. They are wild, spring and bounce around and can run at one heck of a speed. The answer is to keep the pressure on them. Keep the dogs pushing the sheep on and holding them in a bunch, relax your guard and you may find many lambs broken away from the main flock, running for their lives and showing little respect for a dog. Wildlife programmes on the telly which show gazelles jumping, twisting and bounding to escape their hunters would best describe the way a lamb is capable of reacting, they can truly test the stamina and patience of the dogs.
The sun was well risen, the heat was up and dogs were allowed to wallow in the burn to cool off and drink before resuming the journey towards the pens.
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