County Kerry: Land of Fresh Scones and Fierce Sheep

by Kathryn Blanco / Jan 20, 2013 / 0 comments

The tourist bus bumped over the rocky driveway through the gray drizzle. After an hour of driving, everybody was eager to be out in the chill Irish afternoon again. The bus squealed to a halt and we clambered down the stairs. A quick march through dew-coated grass led our group to a small cottage with a thatched roof. Sheep dotted the fields beyond the house. It was easy to picture this same spot two hundred years ago looking exactly as it did then. We walked in and were invited to sit down to tea with homemade scones spread with cream, butter, and jam.


alt="County Kerry farm" title="County Kerry farm" height="300" width="400" />



Afterwards, one of the farmers took us out to a more modern, metal building with a sheep dog trailing loyally at his heels. We walked inside and were greeted by the sounds of clucking chicken and bleating sheep. After passing the chicken coop, we came to the pens of sheep. The farmer brought out two lambs and handed my brother and I each a bottle of milk to feed them with. We held them out and the lambs clamped on to the bottles. They started sucking with surprising strength for such a small animal. I just managed to keep my balance and tightened my hands firmly around the bottle.


alt="feeding a sheep, Ireland" title="feeding a sheep, Ireland" height="400" width="300" />


alt="feeding a sheep, Ireland" title="feeding a sheep, Ireland" height="300" width="400" />

We moved on to the outdoor field where more sheep milled around, grazing contentedly. The farmer sent out the Collie to give us a demonstration of her sheep herding skills. The dog dashed out on to the field, darting between the sheep. The farmer explained that she is trained not to harm the sheep, but to threaten them with growls, bared teeth, and snapping at their heels. However, those stubborn sheep who may need a little extra persuasion will sometimes get a nip. In a surprising turn of events, one particularly determined sheep decided to turn the tables. The sheep had her lamb running around her legs and seems to have no intention of moving. When the dog moved in to threaten her, she lunged and nipped the dog!


alt="sheep dog, Ireland" title="sheep dog, Ireland" height="300" width="400" />



Now it was time to shear the sheep. To the dismay of my 9 year old self, the farmer informed us that the main purpose of this farm was for meat, not wool, since meat sells for more. However, the sheep need to be sheared nonetheless. The naughty, dog-biting sheep was selected to be the example provided for the chore. While the task is not particularly painful, it is unpleasant for the sheep. Imagine pinning down and trying to shave the head of a cranky three year old. Get the picture? The sheep thrashed and bleated, but her efforts were in vain. Within five minutes, she was bald and pink. Her yellowish wool lay in a surprisingly large heap beside the shearing platform.


shearing sheep, Ireland



Soon after, our tour group was loaded back up onto the bus, filing into our fuzzy blue seats and leaving the gray sky and green rocky fields outside. 





Kathryn Blanco is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program


All photos courtesy and copyright Kathryn Blanco