Tuesday 24 January 2012

The Himalayas come to Tarset

We had an invite out one night this past week to view holiday snaps. I know, the thought usually makes you want to yawn, but not on this occasion, this was a trip I really wanted to view. Two folks had gone off for a walking holiday in Nepal and believe you me the pics were well worth seeing.

Amazing countryside, photogenic people and many bright colours, but boy was it steep.... I felt breathless taking in the views and the altitudes which had been walked, photos of porters carrying 50kg loads by way of straps slung around their foreheads. That is the equivalent of two bags of sheep cake, and they carried them up steep hillsides for the duration of the day, not just for a yard or two. Pack mules appeared to carry heavier goods, such as drums full of fuel or gas bottles. Almost everywhere people were dependant on walking and carrying to get from A to B, we were even told that the school day didn't commence until 10am due to some children having to walk for anything up to 4 hours to get to school. Photographs of wedding guests on their 6 hour hike to a wedding were also shown, my goodness- not a sign of a quad bike anywhere. The Nepalese could really put me to shame, I truly did feel breathless just viewing the scenery and having the logistics explained to me. We are spoilt in this country.

The day following the evening out I was putting rock salt out for some sheep and just had to laugh when I noticed the writing on the bag......
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The Himalayas really had come to Tarset! My god! What is the world coming to when rock salt from Pakistan is being put out for stock in Tarset? I only hope this wasn't carried up and down hills by pack mule or men. Does seem strange that the EU is pushing environmental schemes to farmers and then products from 1,000's of miles away are being imported into our country, wont be long 'til the whole of our country is planted with trees in an effort of neutralizing the carbon footprint that we keep hearing about.
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Rock Salt. Exactly that, hewn from the ground and left in lumps, big lumps and little lumps, fat lumps and thin lumps.
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This particular rock salt has a pinkish hue to it, may be due to iron but I don't rightly know. As well as being full of sodium rock salt also has various other trace elements in it. Put out for stock to access ad lib.

There seems to have been a resurgence of interest in Tarset for Rock Salt. Again, something I have always been accustomed to using throughout my shepherding life. It was noted that any sheep on unfenced roads would often be seen at the salt heaps laid out by the council ready for winter, or should a road have been gritted by the council the sheep could be seen licking at the tarmac.

We used to have little wooden boxes made or used old earthenware troughs to put the salt in, saves it being pushed around the ground, keeps it clean and also stops it from burning the grass off, many now a days just seem to lie it out on the open ground. Both sheep and cattle do like it and it definitely doesn't do them any harm. There is often something to be said for the old fashioned ideas, it is interesting how they seem to get overlooked then come back into favour.

Salt was often used at hay time as well, in the days when folks were dependant on making small bales of hay, should it be moist when brought in salt was sprinkled over the layers of bales in the hay shed to prevent it from sweating too much.


Dafad said...

Rock salt for roads! And there's me thinking ours came from Ireland!
Also ours in bright yellow plastic bins. Well camoflaged on our mountain roads ... not!To quote Bob Dylan,
"The times they are a changing"

Tarset Shepherd said...

Bright yellow bins sound like a good idea, they'll stand out well in the snow, unlike us trying to remember where the heaps are when all around is white.