Irish Weather on the Wethers


Meet Azalea.

She joined our little flock yesterday which brings us back to four sheep after the loss of Oscar in August. She is a Navajo Churro breed. Our others are Dorset crosses.

Today got me thinking of our first serious discussion about raising lambs. We were renting a little stone house in Ballydavid on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland. Our hosts were a wonderful family who lived up the road and invited us into their lives for that time.

We loved the two-worlds-colliding feel when Elaine welcomed us and then answered her cell phone and spoke in Gaelic. We learned that she came from 10 miles away and grew up speaking only English. It was when she moved closer to Dingle town to be married that she learned the language (mostly from elderly men in the pub!). She and her husband had three school-aged boys, a flock of sheep, and a comfortable house where they invited us to share both strong tea and glasses of wine on several occasions at their kitchen table.

My daughter was 6 years old and thrilled to hold and bottle feed baby lambs. My husband was just as happy to visit the lambs and got talking about the prospect of raising sheep in the coming year. And so it became so. Our property became more than a view, but also a living, breathing landscape with many lessons of both heartache and joy in store.

A little over a month later we got our first two lambs, and this has been our fifth summer to raise sheep. This year we are going to keep two lambs through the winter and onward as grazers. Ivan—and now Azalea—will be the two we know for longevity. You can guess the fate of the other two.

But back to Ireland.

With the arrival or Azalea we also have the misty moisty weather that I associate affectionately with many trips to Ireland. With our own flock of wethers in the field, I dipped back into pictures from the past trips and found L and R with the neighbor lambs. My daughter’s face is so much rounder and I see how much she’s grown and slimmed out into features that hint at the teenager, the young adult, and the woman she will become. One who cares about animals, loves Irish music, and has the gypsy spirit to travel like her parents.

A few years ago I learned a fiddle tune called Ca’ the Wethers to the Hill. I believe it’s of Scottish origin, and the version I know comes by way of Cape Breton Island. I think I’ll go upstairs and try to play it tonight to conjure up the feel of sea spray and salty air, hillsides dotted with white grazers, islands in the distance.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

kate Georgereply
October 3, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Lovely. I have the best memories of Ireland. I so long to go back again some day. You have such a way with words, Sue. It’s like you have all this talent to share with the world, the sheep and the fiber and the music and the words. Wonderful.

October 4, 2012 at 8:25 am
– In reply to: kate George

Oh Kate you are too kind. xox

Barbara Bamber | justasmidgenreply
October 3, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Congratulations on the arrival of your new little Azalea! I really enjoyed this glimpse into your life in Ireland and the little bit of history. I also loved seeing photos of your lovely family! If only I could hear you play, I would have really enjoyed that!

October 4, 2012 at 8:22 am
– In reply to: Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

Sadly my playing isn’t ready for prime time!!!

October 3, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Sue — You nailed two of my favorite places: Ireland and Nova Scotia. I haven’t brought kids to either yet. When in Dingle did you ever go to Skellig Michael off the coast? Beautiful post in so many different ways.

October 4, 2012 at 8:26 am
– In reply to: daddyshomedavidpetrie

Hey David! I dream of going to Skellig Michael and have read about it for years, but we were advised not to go with a six year old due to the difficult climbing. It’s on the life list for sure. Also the Blasket Islands. Did you go there?

October 4, 2012 at 12:41 am

I’m heading back to Ireland next Saturday for ten glorious days. Thank you for a sneak peek! Love your new sheep!

October 4, 2012 at 8:24 am
– In reply to: thefieryredhead

Lucky you. Which counties will you visit?? I will live vicariously through your trip. Hoping to get there again in the next year or two.

October 8, 2012 at 10:40 pm
– In reply to: 129twigandvine

Visiting NI and the SE for the first time. Hoping to see Cliffs of Moher in Galway area and Giants Causeway up north. Lots in between. I’ve been three times before but not for 13 years. VERY excited!! You’ll see much inspiration on the blog 🙂

Meg Kavanagh Designsreply
October 4, 2012 at 3:56 am

Sending you some Irish greetings! 🙂

October 4, 2012 at 8:23 am
– In reply to: Meg Kavanagh Designs

Marvelous! Thanks Meg.

The Siren’s Talereply
October 4, 2012 at 12:40 pm

You paint a beautiful picture for readers with your words!

October 7, 2012 at 11:38 am

Hello to Azalea, what a beautiful sheep. Does she adapt well ? How wonderful to imagine her in your nice place. Wish I could see her in real. And what a nice narration about Ireland, I will probably go to Ireland in next spring to meet my friend Susanne. Have a wonderful Sunday !

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