A familiar journey in search of cool pastures for French sheep

Transhumance, a passionate term, has to do with relocating farm animals, specially sheep, in excellent figures above extensive distances my hands-on knowledge is confined to hauling a couple of smelly creatures into the again of a Land Cruiser to go them from one particular industry to an additional when I was a much youthful man or woman.

hese days I can barely haul myself into any variety of auto devoid of a action-up facility for the elderly. Time goes by.

I can however recall the overpowering odor of the woollies’ thick coats, badly in will need of shearing. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

I satisfied sheep folks on my travels who cared for their fees, and the bounty thereof. Just after shearing, some even lay down in the wool mass to snatch 40 winks. I read of one person in Kerry who slept in his terrific wool retail outlet throughout severe temperature.

I had come upon transhumance in Spain and Portugal as a spectacle of animal herding to be admired, and last week a reader in the south of France sent me photographs of a wonderful train of sheared sheep passing as a result of a village.

The term alone indicates the transferring of livestock from one particular grazing region to another in a seasonal cycle. This employed to be observed more regularly in an more mature Ireland but motor transport does the operate now.

It is nevertheless pretty a lot element of rural lifestyle in mainland Europe, with the animals becoming guided by shepherds and obedient dogs on occasionally arduous journeys by way of towns and countryside searching for resting spots for grass and h2o together the way.

Once in Meath, long in the past, to my surprise I came upon a good mass of sheep on their client journey along a public road. By some miracle, two guys and a few of puppies kept the fantastic tide of dust and beasts relocating into a village and thence to superior ground many miles absent.

In the French village of Montpeyroux in the Hérault Occitanie area, 1,000 sheep looking neat and trim following a haircut, with neck bells tinkling from blue ribbons, handed through — delighting children and building some older people anxious about the destiny of their roadside blooms.

By nightfall, the good mass had achieved an oasis of grazing and drinking water to rest on their very long, disciplined odyssey to interesting pastures away from the baking lowlands on a historic journey that has observed tiny transform more than many generations.


A last phrase on the the latest pretty linnet with scarlet forehead and breast flashings (the reader picture despatched by E MacEochaigh from Co Waterford could not be reproduced for specialized good reasons) and the intimate link with Napoleon, the “green linnet” of Irish historical past.

I thank visitors Damien Boyd of Cork and Kieran Dillon of Clare for sort letters and defer for pro information to Niall Hatch of BirdWatch Ireland, who states that “green linnet” is an antiquated term for a greenfinch. The two are users of the finch household but not carefully related — the twite is nearer to the linnet — and there are many linnet species worldwide a Yemen linnet, for case in point.