copyright 2011
           Latheron Churchyard  looking South on the East coast of Caithness,                              overlooking the North Sea.
         My grandfather's final resting place, along with Aunt Bunty and Cousin Ian.

    I have enjoyed gathering stories most of my life,.  Here are a few mostly about or related to sheep, from both sides of the Atlantic. I should mention that on the several occasions I have had the good fortune to revisit the Old Country, I invariably wonder how I could have ever left such a beautiful place. You will find many pictures of Scotland on this page, plus several  views of the Virginias where we have been privileged to live for many years.


                    MEMORIES FROM SCOTLAND

                                      ROYAL LADY

    Her Majesty the Queen Mother was always it seemed, the most popular member of the British Royal family. A most gracious lady,she was especially beloved in Scotland, and of course was a Scot herself, hailing from Glamis in Angus.
    When Her Majesty purchased the Castle of Mey and Longoe Farm on the north coast of Caithness in 1952, she decided to raise North Country Cheviot sheep and Angus cattle. Her first shepherd was Sandy, a top sheep man and one of my grandfather's lifelong friends. I remember being pleased that she hired a really experienced member of the Caithness sheep fraternity rather than some erudite college boy from the south (or worse yet, an Englishman!)          

                                                                              The Castle of Mey   

         A story goes that once Sandy was attending the Royal Highland Show with some of Her Majesty's sheep. In those days, accommodation for herdsmen and shepherds at the "Highland" could be described as sparse - some might say abysmal. A little wooden cubicle with no furnishing or electricity was the extent of it, with straw on the floor serving as a mattress. Without a doubt the animals had better accommodation than the stockmen.(I can speak from experience since I was at the "Highland" in 1959 with Shorthorn cattle from Westdrums where I worked prior to college That show was in Aberdeen. In those days the show moved around the country - shortly after that, a permanent showground was purchased near Edinburgh and gradually facilities improved). 
    Sandy and his teenage son occupied such a meager facility, and since Sandy like most Caithness stockmen, enjoyed fellowship, not to mention a dram or two, his humble quarters were the scene of many an evening revel after the stock were fed and bedded down. One day,Her Majesty was scheduled to visit the show, and after touring several exhibits, she announced that she wished to visit Sandy, at his place of lodging.
   Sandy got the word that "herself" was on her way, and in a frenzy of activity, began cleaning up his quarters, still showing remnants from the night before such as beer cans and empty whiskey bottles. Having filled two carrier bags with remains and assorted debris, Sandy sent his son to dispose of them in the appropriate receptacle nearby. Before the lad got to the corner, he was confronted with Her Majesty and her entourage fast approaching. As he pulled up at the sight, the bottom fell out of one of the paper bags, and a cascade of cans and bottles rolled in front of the Royal personage.
    She nimbly negotiated the obstacles and spying Sandy standing mortified, head bowed, cap in hand at the door of his shack, greeted him warmly. Looking past her shepherd into his humble abode, she noticed a wooden crate serving as a table, with a centerpiece of one more empty whiskey bottle, this one muzzled with a candle. 
     "I like your candlestick, Sandy." she smiled. 


                    Sheepdog trial,  near Callender, Perthshire


                                        TRUE COLORS

     Preparing sheep for show always included, and no doubt still does, various tricks of the trade. North Country Cheviot show sheep usually had their wool stained brown with something called "burnt umber" to better contrast the head and bone. Those latter two regions were painted with a mixture of zinc oxide and water, about the consistency of toothpaste which dried and kept them snow white. A zinc oxide powder puff, using a knotted nylon stocking served to pat on the sheep's head along with a damp rag kept them extra white throughout. This explained why the handlers were also liberally anointed with white, on hands, arms and frontal torso on show day.
    One serious fault that it seemed even the thickest coat of zinc oxide could not cover up for long was brown legs. I remember a story concerning the MacRae brothers, our main competitors in showing North Country Cheviotts in that part of Caithness. They were great sheep men, but often accused of being rogues. Apparently they had a really good ram lamb, but marred by brown legs. As legend would have it, they decided on a different approach. The lamb appeared in the show ring smeared slightly with creosote on his legs, and the brothers apologized to the judge that the lamb had been transported to the show in a newly creosoted truck, and they did not have time to clean him up properly.
    As good as the lamb was in every other way, he won his class. After the show, someone asked Andy, the most gregarious of the brothers, if it was true that they had put creosote on the lamb's legs.   
  "We would never stoop that low," grinned Andy, with a rascally twinkle in his eye.

                 DIAGNOSTIC  DETERMINATION       

    One summer in Caithness, my parents and brother were on holiday on my grandfather's farm where I spent every summer. My dad was a doctor, so was used to the locals seeking his advice on medical matters, since their assets in that area tended to be somewhat limited. He would on occasion arrange appointments with some of his colleagues, the best Edinburgh doctors for folks in need.
    We were getting the rams ready for the annual Thurso sale, so had Jimmy, an expert sheep trimmer working on them. He and I came to the farmhouse to eat lunch, and Jimmy got in conversation with my dad concerning the stomach trouble he said chronically bothered him.  After finishing our meal, we headed back to the trimming shed. 
    Aunt Bunty, the lady of the house, asked my dad if he knew what was wrong with Jimmy's stomach.
    "I'm not sure I do - do you?"
    "Yes" Bunty stated with conviction,"Burnt with alcohol!"

                            THE WHOLE BULL

   A story not about sheep, but one my dad used to enjoy telling concerning a North Country sheep breeder, Captain John McGillivray of Calrossie, a world renowned Shorthorn stockman. The Captain was standing in the ring as one of his Shorthorns sold at the great Perth Bull Sale. The bidding stalled at a relatively low figure, and the Captain snorted in displeasure,
   "His head's worth that much!"
   "Aye, Captain,"paused auctioneer Lovat Fraser,"But we're selling the whole bull."

      (That reminds me of a sale in Ohio many years later when a one eyed cow came into the sale ring. When the bidders hesitated, the auctioneer admonished them, "Don't worry about that eye - I've seen several blind men with big families!" )               
                            NOSS CHAMPION

         I have included pictures of Noss Champion, my grandfather's most celebrated ram in the "History" page. Here are a few items of trivia that I remember concerning him. My grandfather bought him in 1955 after he was champion at the Thurso ram sale as a yearling. When the ram came into the packed sale ring, my grandfather stood right next to the auctioneer's box. Putting his arm through the rail, he grasped the auctioneer's ankle and squeezed it to bid until he got the ram bought. Obviously nobody knew who the successful bidder was until the ram was sold.
      After the sale, I remember holding the new ram for an American visitor to take a picture of him. That gentleman was good enough to mail us a copy of the picture when he got home. I have never forgotten his name.
           Wendell T. Card, Sylvania, Pennsylvania.

       On the day Noss Champion won the Caithness Show, largest North Country show in the world, my grandfather also had the champion Shorthorn with Remiggy Pauline, a home bred cow and even had best in show in the poultry tent with a beautiful Black Minorca hen. I don't think the hen had a name. Probably the best show day he ever had, at 72 years old . I was unfortunately still in school in Edinburgh, and didn't get to the farm in time for the county show.

 Noss Champion (left) and his six sons the day before the sale.

   I was always there for the ram sales, and was on hand when Noss Champion went back to the sale as a three year old along with six of his sons. Looking back he should probably have been used in the flock longer, as good as his progeny were. At the show preceding the ram sale, there were three judges on hand, one for yearling rams, one for older rams and one for females. The ram judges were supposed to agree on one ram for champion, but in this case, the yearling judge wanted his winner for champion, while the other judge wanted Noss Champion, his senior division winner. They failed to agree, so the judge of the females was sent for. That happened also to be a female, rather a rarity for a Scottish sheep judge in those days. Janet Gill from the quaintly named Portmahomack in Ross-shire stepped in between the two rams and put a hand on each side to handle both their tops. We knew we had it then - no other ram had a top like Noss Champion, so he won for the final time.
   Alistair Clyne, who bred Noss Champion, was and still is a renowned North Country breeder. On a visit to Caithness after my move to America, I remember him telling of his trip to Canada to judge the North Country Chevets at the Canadian Royal in Toronto. Of course he did what every Scottish sheep judge does, in order to see the sheep's natural movement - he required that the handlers turn the sheep loose. That is guaranteed to get the North American sheep show jock's attention!


             David Sinclair (right) with a champion pen of North Country crossbred market lambs at the Scottish National. I knew both of his helpers, Jimmy Duncan (left) and Jim Tait.

    As capable a stockman as I ever knew was David Sinclair who farmed at Abernyte, near Inchture in Perthshire. Davie was probably the most successful fatstock showman of his time, winning numerous championships at the two major winter shows, the Scottisn National in Edinburgh and Royal Smithfield in London. He had a Caithness pedigree, though spent his life in Perthshire. He bred Angus cattle and North Country Cheviot sheep, but his primary focus was producing both sheep and cattle to win the fatstock (i.e. butcher ready) shows at which he had a remarkable record. The animals were often crossbred, and not only did Davie raise many winners, but did not hesitate to buy one he thought had potential. He would appraise his Angus bull calves, and picking out the best one would ask "Is he good enough to cut?"  In other words, if he had one good enough, he'd rather "put the cold steel to him" and win Smithfield with a steer than sell him as a bull. He was a shrewd a judge of livestock as I ever knew, and was called upon to judge many shows around the country.
    I first met Davie when I was a teenager spending time with his friend and neighbor Alastair Gordon. Alastair was a cattle enthusiast who was kind enough to become a mentor. His sister Rhoda who nursed with my mother many years earlier, initiated our meeting, recognizing our mutual devotion to livestock. I became a regular visitor to his farm during school breaks,  when we toured the area looking at cattle. While Alastair was an Angus man, I was a Shorthorn fanatic - we visited numerous herds of both breeds and I will always treasure the times we had and how much I learned thanks to him, a genial and generous soul.  Naturally we would visit Davie's farm regularly to see the animals being developed for the upcoming shows. 
    I remember also spending a couple of days picking potatoes for Davie, along with a big crew of local folk. Before the days of potato harvesters, a machine called a digger would go through the rows of potatoes knocking the dirt layer off the  top. The pickers would then move down their "piece"gathering the exposed potatoes into baskets. No sooner would the gathering be done than the digger tractor would make another round and the process repeated. In those days they even closed the schools several days in potato country so the children could help with the harvest. Seed potato growing was and likely remains a major crop in that very fertile part of Scotland. The climate was cool enough that the aphids, scourge of potato plants farther south were not a factor, so Scotland produced the bulk of seed potatoes for most of the British Isles. Fish and chips was and still is a staple diet of British working folk, so the demand for Scottish "tatties"is likely to remain solid. 
    Davie had a great sense of humor and was always entertaining. He bought a North Country ram once from Nunraw Abbey, where the monks, primarily Brother Oliver ran a fine flock. Davie was responsible for naming the ram at registration, and called him "Abbott's Choice" - the fact that this happened to be the name of a popular brand of Scotch whiskey was no coincidence.
    A few years later, when I was in college about 1963, I was home in Edinburgh for Christmas break and went to the "Scottish National" a major fatstock show held in those days at Waverly Market. Davie as usual was a prominent exhibitor and when we talked, he had a proposal for me. His head herdsman Ian was in hospital following appendectomy, and the crew thus was shorthanded for the trip to the Smithfield show in London, coming right up. He wondered if I could go along to help Jim, his remaining hand. 
    Naturally, I was thrilled to have the chance, and a few days later we were on the train bound for London with all the other Scottish livestock on board. We rode in the car with the beasts. Our string included four head of cattle, two steers and two heifers. 
    At the show, always teeming with people, all four animals won their class, one of the heifers being champion of the baby beef heifer division, while "Kirrie", the big crossbred steer was Supreme Champion of the show, Davie's first,(of three). This meant the steer was stalled in a special glass booth for the duration of the show, and I was his primary babysitter, getting to appreciate what a goldfish must feel like, engulfed in a sea of faces. Several dignitaries came to visit, including Sir Alec Douglas - Home, the Prime Minister, and a Scottish farmer himself. Her Majesty the Queen must have been elsewhere or she would likely have visited as well.
    I remember going out to eat every night in London with Kenny Stewart, one of the Scottish Shorthorn herdsmen I knew, which gave me a chance to talk cattle endlessly.
    The winning steer"Kirrie" a massive yet gentle black whiteface, got his name from the fact that he was champion at Kirriemuir Fatstock Show the previous year. Davie was the judge, and bought him, thinking the steer good enough to feed for next year's major shows.
      Davie passed away a few years ago aged 86 - a memorable, rare and gifted character that I will always feel privileged to have known.


      Davie with two more winners in the seventies  - the white steer he bought as a bull calf at a  purebred  Shorthorn sale and was Supreme Champion at Smithfield.

                                    THE MEASURE OF A MAN

    My grandfather had a lifelong fondness for whiskey, and even on his deathbed, enjoyed a dram. The doctor said he could have a drink once a day, so his trusty caretaker Aunt Bunty would bring him one before lunchtime.  
    One day she walked into his room with his dram on a tray and noticed the whiskey lapping over the top of the glass.
    "Och Granpa, I put too much whiskey in your glass!" she scolded herself.
    "That's all right lass," he reassured her "It'll just take me a wee while longer to drink it."


                        I must admit that several have nothing whatsoever to do with sheep.

    North Country sheep along the North Sea shore on the Brora Golf Course in Sutherland. 

    I did not take the picture, but found it on the Brora Golf Course website. Brora is a little town far on the road north. Three of my best friends in college came from there, Angus Mackay, Jimmy Simpson and Andrew Coghill. Good guys and fine soccer players all.

    I remember something Angus did when we worked afternoons on the college farm. He was collecting hatching eggs from a breeding flock at the poultry unit.  That particular shed included a very hostile rooster, who never failed to attack whoever appeared there. 
     Angus went in to get the eggs and the rooster jumped him again, as he put it,
     "One bloody time too many." 
    He grabbed the bird, wrung his neck, kicked a hole in the litter and threw the perpetrator in it.
    He never mentioned this to the poultry unit staff, so no doubt there were a number of eggs that inexplicably failed to hatch, until someone noticed that the rooster had mysteriously disappeared.



     Years ago, on a trip back to Scotland, visiting the magical Isle of Skye, where my father's people came from, we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast (I have no family left on Skye, sad to say.) Mrs Nicholson was our landlady in the village of Borve, near Portree. I told her we would go out to take pictures of the sunset which over there is about 10.30 at night in the summer. 
    "Go down the road that way about three miles to the Kensalyre churchyard - you will likely get a good photo there."
The resulting picture is shown above.

    Years later we were again headed for Skye via the Mallaig ferry. As we bought our ferry tickets, the girl at the desk warned us that there would be a scarcity of lodging on Skye since the Portree Highland Games were the next day. We were in a bind, but I had an idea. I looked Mrs Nicholson up in the Skye phone book, and called her. Luckily she was at home.I mentioned that we had stayed with her years before, and had sent her a copy of the picture she helped us get.
    "Macqueen" she said immediately.
     I told her of our predicament and asked if she was still taking guests. She said not, "I had to go out to work" as she put it, but gave us the phone numbers of two other ladies nearby.
    Mrs MacDonald, the first one I called told us to come on.
    We realized later that she had given us her bedroom and moved to the attic herself.
    When we arrived at the house, and began unloading our bags, one of the farm Border Collies promptly ran up and lifted his leg beside one of my sister in law Kay's suitcases. 
    Mrs MacDonald cried out in dismay,
    "What a terrible thing to happen!"
    " Oh ,I can think of worse things" said I to comfort her.
    "Easy for you to say - he didn't pee on your bag!" Julie rasped in my ear.


         A picture taken from almost the same spot years later in 2006 



    This picture was taken on John Elliot's Roxburgh Mains farm near Kelso. Looking south, England can be seen in the distance, so this is the "Border Country" where the collies originated. Some of the best farmland in Scotland. John Elliot is a well known North Country Cheviot breeder, but I must admit that day we were looking at his  celebrated "Rawburn" Angus herd.



    Julie thinks this looks like a scene from a James Bond movie. This is Dunbeath Bay on the East coast of Caithness,with Dunbeath Castle in the background. My cousin Jack Doull used to be the agent for Dunbeath Estates, and at one point when the castle was for sale, Jack showed it to another Jack, Jack Palance of movie fame. No deal was struck but the two Jacks remained friends. Both are gone now. Cousin Jack was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by the Royal Air Force for his service as a bomber pilot in WWII.  (Picture note: as cold as the water typically is, skiers wear a rubber suit.The water is the North Sea, looking East toward Norway)


     We were sightseeing in Aberdeenshire, near Royal Deeside, so named because the Queen's Balmoral Castle and the River Dee are close by. I thought this scene with the heather and the silver birch trees was special. The heather was about two feet high and wet enough that I got soaked but it was worth it - one of my favorite pictures.                         

    I was driving by myself on the way to take pictures at Loch Lomond, when I crossed a little bridge and saw this landscape on my right. A boy was swimming, and when I parked and brought out the camera, he was watching to see what I was up to.  His ripples helped create an interesting picture.


       Always a treat are the flowers in Scotland. Above is a harbor front house in St.Monance, Fife, an East coast fishing village.

        Below, a scene from my brother Robin and wife Anne's beautiful garden in Edinburgh. Our mother was a skilled gardener, as clearly are Robin and Anne.




    Looking over Waternish Bay into the Atlantic on the Isle of Skye about seven at night on our 2006 trip with John and Maudie Mitchell. A storm was brewing and the last rays of sunshine broke through as if in protest.



    Yet another waterscape ...remember none of Scotland is too far from the ocean.This is Loch Broom near Ullapool in Ross-shire.
    Long ago I thought I would enter this picture in the West Virginia State Fair photography contest. I took it to the local photo shop to get it matted. I asked the man in the shop how he thought my picture might do at the fair.
    "It won't win anything" he stated with conviction.
    "You don't think so?" said I, slightly deflated,"Why not?"
    "Because I'm the judge."

        Lybster Harbor, on the east coast of Caithness, once a thriving herring fishing port, now hosting a few pleasure craft. My mother used to walk me down to the harbor when she and I lived with her father during World War II when my dad was away on military duty.



                NORTH COUNTRY CROSSING                   

     We  bought four North Country rams from Canada in 1971, and wound up driving to Prince Edward Island to pick them up in appropriately, a pickup. (One of them came from a farm in Nova Scotia near a town  with a memorable name, Tatamagouche. Many years later, I learned that Anne Murray, one of our favorite Canadians took her piano lessons in Tatamagouche as a child)
      On the way back, we had to cross the border at Houlton, Maine, which is kind of the middle of nowhere. There was a vet on duty, and we stopped to have our health papers and sheep checked. 
    "Do you want me to unload the rams?" I asked the vet.
    " No, I can climb over the racks and check them" he told me.
     As he straddled the racks, George the big ram was watching him and backed up  as if preparing to slam the vet should he dare to step down in the bed.
    The vet noticed this as he swung his leg over, and stopped his descent
   "They look alright to me!" he called out cheerily as he begun his retreat and dismount.        


                  NOT SO FAR FROM HOME

    Mike, our friend from New Zealand was shearing sheep in Maryland. An old fellow was rolling the wool as the shearing proceeded. He noticed Mike had a different accent.
    "Where are you from?' he asked Mike.
    "New Zealand."
    "Did you drive down this morning?"

                        RACE RELATIONS

   Early in the Maryland flock history, we had a group of six nice yearling North Country ewes, and did not have an unrelated North Country ram to breed them to. Lacking many options, I thought we might try a Suffolk, and duly borrowed one from our neighbor Bob Offord at Wye House. I jumped the ram off the pickup into the lot where the yearlings were. The ram spotted the group and ran toward them as you would expect.
    The ewes had never seen a black headed sheep before, and promptly charged clean through a new board fence. I got them rounded up and put them back with the ram, hoping they would settle down. Apparently they got over their aversion to black sheep, and produced 12 beautiful lambs between them the next spring. Those would have been the first Suffolk X North Country crossbreds I had seen, and I have been hooked on them ever since.

     One note of interest about Bob Offord - He spent most of his adult life farming in Alberta in western Canada, before moving to Maryland to manage Wye House Suffolks for Morgan Schiller I remember him going to the movies once to see "Dr Zhivago" a memorable film from the sixties. Bob was not a movie buff, but had a particular reason to watch that film. Much of the story was set in rural Russia, but since in those cold war days, the Russians would not allow film crews access,  the film makers shot the rural Russian scenes in Alberta, near Calgary, which apparently is similar to the Russian steppes.

Much of the footage came from familiar territory for Bob.

      Bob was originally from Selkirk, Scotland, and emigrated to Canada at 18.    

                 TWO BY FOUR TREATMENT

   Years ago, sheep farmers had to deal with a problem not seen nowadays. Sheep would be afflicted with circling disease caused by tapeworm cysts in the brain. Another name was "grub in the head".
   My old landlord in West Virginia was a very capable stockman (and storyteller) from whom I learned much. He told me about a case he had seen long before and how the old timers suggested treating the problem.
      The Wimer farm at Millpoint, West Virginia, scene of the story
  A superior pasture farm, with good water, limestone, shade and natural bluegrass..
      430 acres, we  rented there for over twenty years.
"I seen this ewe up on the hill, stumblin' around - that's what it was - grub in the head - I seen it a time or two before. Now every once in a while, a man could fix 'em if you hit 'em a good lick over the head - mash that thing in there. So I fetched me a piece of two by four and packed it back up there on the hill where she was at. The sheep was layin' down when I got there, so I took the two by four down on her head. Hit her a pretty good lick - cold cocked her altogether - so I left her layin' and came down out of there. I figured either I killed her or cured her. She weren't doin' no good the way she was.
   Well the next mornin' I looked up there and she was gone..... then I seen her - way up on top of the ridge, grazin' quite normal like....."
   At that point I had to interject.
   "Do you know why she went way up there?"
   " Afraid you were coming back with that two by four".

    The twin lambs described in the following story with their mother

                      THE GOOD SHEPHERD

    We got a call from a local Baptist minister who was told we had sheep. He was looking for a lamb to use in his Easter play at church. It so happened we had a late pair of Suffolks that were about the right size, so I told him we could help him out. He had two play performances, one on Good Friday, the other on Easter Sunday. I told him we would have a lamb there for each play. 
    "Will there be a fee?" asked the Reverend, and I assured him there would not.
    As it happened, we took one lamb on Friday, the other twin on Sunday, and both stole the show. Neither made a fuss, nor discharged anything inappropriate while on stage with their guardian, the young man playing Jesus. After the play, the children got to pet the lambs, so all went well and we received a generous gift for our trouble.
    The minister told us of an amusing incident the last time they had used a lamb in the Easter play. The same young man was playing Jesus, and when the lamb was due to appear, Jesus went through the side door to where the animal was in a pen outside the church. He picked the lamb up and turned back towards the door when the lamb jumped out of his arms and took off across the lawn. Robes flowing, Jesus gave chase, through the neighboring yards. Fortunately the runaway was quickly recaptured  and returned promptly to the stage.
     We were amused imagining  what may well have transpired: - a neighbor is reading his paper when he notices something go by the window.
    "Honey.. there's someone in the yard...." he announces , peering outside.
    "Who is it, Dear?" asks his wife from across the room.
     "You won't believe this......"

                                YOUNG AND PRETTY

       I was telling someone recently  at the West Virginia State Fair, to check out our sheep website  (the one you are currently viewing.)
     "There are even pictures of me taken forty years ago, when I was a young  pretty boy" said I, blowing smoke.
    "Pretty boy forty years ago?" chimed in a nearby comedian
    "You'd have to go back much farther than that!"


                         WEAPONS OF CHOICE

        I was talking on the phone with a ram customer, and he mentioned that one of his rams (not from us) had become really aggressive toward people. He related that one of his sons had gone out turkey hunting, and the ram had jumped the boy out in the field. All the young man had to defend himself was a 12 gauge shotgun, which he used to club the ram until he backed off.
    When the boy got home, his dad noticed he was a little scuffed up.
    "What happened to you?"
    "That mean ran got me down - I had to beat him off with the shotgun."
    Dad picked up the weapon and soon determined that the barrel was newly bent.
    "Next time, shoot the sonofabitch!"


                         DO YOU FEEL LUCKY?

     I was headed up the road in my old pickup for a load of sheep feed, and stopped at a station for a bite of lunch. As I sat in my truck finishing up my snack, a young woman approached, whom I had seen in the store.
   "Which way are you going?" she asked.
   "North" said I nodding in that direction.
   "Oh, that's too bad", she replied.
   "Do you need a ride?" I inquired.
   "Yes, I need to get back to Hot Springs - I have a young baby back there I need to see about."
   Hot Springs was only about a mile South.
   "I can take you there, no problem - jump in."
   She thanked me profusely for the offer, and as she climbed up into the old truck, she introduced herself and remarked,
   "I suppose women shouldn't get into vehicles with strangers - but I saw you over here and figured you were harmless."    

So should I consider that a compliment?

(When she said that, I should have said,
"So you think I'm a harmless old guy,huh?  Not so fast!")



                         FOR THE RECORD
    My wife Julie recently went to a funeral in West Virginia with her friend Judy. The minister officiating was Rev.Calvin McCutcheon. Julie had never met him, but recalled me talking about catching sheep years ago for a clergyman of that name, helping him break the state record for a day's shearing, with over 300 head, on the Dick McNeel farm near Hillsboro.
    She introduced herself and asked him if he sheared sheep.
    "Yes, how did you know?"
    She explained that she remembered her husband talking about the record breaking day long ago.
    Mr McCutcheon naturally recalled that extraordinary day, and said he still sheared sheep (at 76 years old) but his biggest problem now was that many of the sheep were too big for him.

   ( That's what I preach about.)

Check out our "News and Commentary" page for more about Rev.McCutcheon.


      I did not master the art of sheep shearing. It started out well enough. Long ago back in Scotland, I enrolled in a sheep shearing school run by Godfrey Bowen, a stocky little New Zealander who was the world champion at the time. All went well until, wrestling with a rowdy ewe, I stuck the clippers into my arm. It was rather gory. At that point, my motivation strangely seemed to dissipate.


   That reminds of a time I was in dairy school in Scotland. We were making cheese, and everyone was busy tending to the numerous vats of milk involved, all but one of the boys who stood by, quietly watching, to my amusement.
    "What's your job?" I laughingly inquired.
    "Oh, I'm in an advisory capacity"

   That's me in the shearing shed.

 Speaking of cheese
      - there is a deli in Nazareth,Pennsylvania called "Cheeses of Nazareth"


      Talking of school reminds me of a tale one of my neighbors told me about his grandson. It was the boy's first day in kindergarten, and one of the teachers asked him his name.
    "Bobby" answered the youngster
   "Well, Bobby, do you know your ABCs?
   "Hell no - I've only been here two hours!"


                       GETTING THE PICTURE

          We have a sideline business in livestock photography. Once, at the Virginia State Fair we were on duty at the photo backdrop. A youngster nearby was asked by his mother to bring his heifer up for us to take his picture. The boy was obviously unhappy with that plan, and made no move to obey.
         "Go ahead - go up and get a picture with your heifer" urged Mom.
       "I don't want to, Mom - that old man bosses me around"

                                  NOT QUALIFIED

   A young man we knew did well at the State Fair and won his showmanship class, came up with his steer for a picture. We got a good shot of him, and Julie suggested we could take another picture, this time including the lad's parents who were watching.
The boy looked puzzled, saying,
        "They didn't win anything"

                                WHO'S ON FIRST?

        One of my neighbors brought a transatlantic visitor to see the sheep recently. This was his cousin, a lady close to my age, born in Wales who has been married more than thirty years to a Scottish sheep farmer. I was interested to talk with her about many things, including the recent vote on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom. She and I agreed that we were glad that the vote did not succeed in creating an independent Scotland. We both thought there were a number of good reasons to keep the union intact. We discussed the fact that sixteen year olds were allowed to vote. I speculated that the young people might have been more likely expected to vote for independence, but as she said, the majority did not.
       At that point, Ron my neighbor chipped in, to my amusement.
     "Hell, around here, most of the sixteen year olds wouldn't know their ass from first base!"


 I have been told that I have a weird sense of humor. Here is a photo I took that has always amused me.  A number of folks in the area enjoy re-enactments of historical events. Anyone not familiar with such activity probably wondered what was going on down the road.




That reminds of the time President Reagan was shot. The vice president was out of the country, and the press were swarming the White House trying to find out who was in command. Secretary of State Alexander Haig went to the podium and said something like,

"As of now, I'm in charge"

Shortly thereafter, we bought our first telephone answering machine. The first massage I recorded was,
"This is the Macqueen's answering machine. As of now, I'm in charge."

I don't think too many people got it.


                            FAMILY AFFAIR

      Pam is a local lady who was helping her friend run a small nearby diner. They made fine vegetable soup that I often enjoyed for lunch.  One day as I was getting my soup from Pam, Matt walked in. He is the owner's son in law, and he and I worked on the same farm operation for some time, and enjoyed picking on each other. As he strode behind the counter, I warned Pam,
    " You're going to have to get used to being around a smartass now."
    She looked at me, and dead seriously, replied,
    "i have a whole family of them."


           Did you ever feel like things were piling up on you?


    One of the locals told about a time he was in a restaurant, when a woman began choking on her food.
  " Her husband had to give her the Heiniken maneuver."


     A fellow I know was in a serious accident, requiring surgery on a badly broken leg. Referring to a conversation he had with the surgeon,
   "Doc, I'll walk again if I have to crawl."


     I knew a boy once who talked so fast, I could barely understand him.
One day, I said,
     " Slow down, don't talk so fast."
     He had a snappy comeback
    "You don't listen fast enough!"


A recent conversation I had at the West Virginia State Fair began with a question from a visitor.

      "Where is that cattle judge from?"

      "He's a crook."

       "What?  The judge is a crook?"

      " They're all crooks in Kentucky."

      " Really? Where are YOU from?"



   A couple we knew were planning a weekend trip, and decided to leave their 9 year old son with another couple who were good friends. 
The couple and the boy went to a restaurant for a meal. After the main course, the waitress suggested dessert.
"Would you like some ice cream?" she inquired of the boy.
"Ask your mom and dad if you can have some"
    The boy's response was a classic.

"She's not my mom - he's not my dad - I don't know who these people are."


         Glasgow Celtic is a highly celebrated soccer team in Scotland. Long ago, they had a Polish goalkeeper who liked to read the bible in the dressing room. He became known to his teammates as "The Holy Goalie."


  A good  sheep man from nearby Highland County, Jon Donaldson, has three young daughters. On a visit there lately, I noticed how much the girls had grown.
         "Before long, you'll able to stay in the house and have the girls do the chores", I joked to Jon.
         " He does that now!" chimed the girls in unison.


             I was visiting a neighbor, and we were in his living room when all of a sudden he shouted,
"Get down - below the window - quick!"
We were both on our knees under the window. I had no idea what was going on.
"Is there somebody out there with a gun? Or what?"

"Jehovahs coming up the path !"


One of my high school hay helpers joined the merchant marine upon graduation, and traveled all over the world. Along the way, he acquired two wives. The first was I think Vietnamese, and the second Filipino, but both unions ended in divorce.
His dad had a comment.
"I told that boy to quit fooling with them Ethiopians".



  Years ago, I took cattle to the Kentucky Beef Expo in Louisville.  I had my animals stalled prior to the sale when Ron, a fellow I knew slightly as a Kentucky breeder strolled up with  a question for me. He had a pint bottle of bourbon in his pocket, and asked if he could store it in my tack box, rather than carry it all day.  I told him to go ahead and put it in the box, and invited him to stop by if he needed to take a horn out of the bottle.
"Let me tell you about that whiskey", Ron announced.
" My business is building swimming pools, and I had a customer recently who asked me if I would take whiskey as part of his payment. He said he had retired from 30 years working in a local distillery. Every day he stole a pint of bourbon when he left work. So that is one of the bottles from his basemen that he gave met."

I calculated that if the guy worked 5 days a week, he had around 9000 bottles in his basement


                   One day recently I stopped for fuel in Hot Springs. I had four rams on my truck. Two ladies stopped to look at them.
"Where are you taking them? To the slaughterhouse?"
        "No,ma'am - these are rams- they are going to work." said I.
"Really? What kind of work do they do?"

                     REMEMBERING SANDY


    Certainly a fondly remembered member of our family was Sandy, a red and white Border Collie whose good company we enjoyed for fifteen years in West Virginia.
    Most Border Collies are black and white while the red ones are rare but not unknown thanks to a red gene in the pot. The Border Collie breed originated in southern Scotland near the English border, hence the name. They are very common on Scotland, to be found herding sheep or cattle on almost every livestock farm. In  the United States, other herding dogs like Australian Shepherds or Blue Heelers are not uncommon, but in Scotland I never saw anything but Border Collies working. They have an inherent instinct to gather and drive livestock and the good ones are totally committed and dedicated to their work.     

    They are the most intelligent of all dogs - Border Collie owners already knew that but a couple of years ago someone developed a battery of tests to scientifically prove the obvious. One key reason for the  breed's intelligence in my opinion is the fact that this trait is about the only one most are consistently selected for other than soundness and stamina. The ability to work stock and follow orders is what counts - looks are virtually ignored - many of the very best are downright homely, but what they can do is what makes a good one. This is clearly a contrast to much of the dog breeding world where it seems that often mental and physical defectives are multiplied in the name of show ring success. An extreme example comes to mind when I remember a friend who breeds valuable purebred dogs where the breed in question has developed show dogs so short legged and deep chested that they cannot mate without help. Surely Mother Nature is trying to tell us something.

    Many of the top Border Collies compete in sheepdog trials but most of them are happily at home on the farm with their stock and master. Their work is their life - just watch them when the time comes to get started - talk about motivation, commitment and concentration.
    Sandy's mother was Leadburn Chris, to give her her full name. She was black and white, came from near Penicuik in central Scotland, and we imported her about 1974. Sadly we lost Chris in her prime but we fortunately had kept Sandy, her first pup. We knew Chris might have the red gene, since we saw her red sister working in Scotland. Among her forebears was Wiston Cap, International Sheepdog Trial Champion and regarded by many as the greatest of them all.
    Sandy's father was Scot, a good working black and white dog from Robin's Fork in nearby Greenbrier County. Scot's master was Bert McMillion, a fine fellow and dedicated dog handler. Scot's pedigree was almost exclusively Scottish, and also traced to Wiston Cap.
    Bert had an older dog, Susie that he enjoyed asking, preferably in front of an audience:
    "Would you rather be a Democrat or be dead?", at which Susie would immediately assume the prone position flat on the ground.
    Most of the good working dogs are not house pets, but I must admit Sandy was more the latter since I did not properly train her to work, but she was as smart as any, and several of her pups made good working dogs.

    She went everywhere with us - When we stayed in a motel, we always tried to book a ground floor room so we could sneak her in. She never made a sound or committed any form of misdemeanor.
    Most Border collies rarely bark. The only sound Sandy made was a little yip to get your attention. She loved to play "sticks" as many dogs do, and would drop assorted pieces of farm flotsam either at or on your feet for you to throw. Should you not be paying attention, she would pick up the stick and drop it on your toes again, yipping softly while staring at you quizzically, head cocked to the side, as if wondering whether you were so dimwitted that you did not get the message. She would play as long as she had a willing partner. Once her first choice grew weary, she would move on to the next available thrower until told to desist.
    She could dribble a soccer ball like Pele himself, with her nose, and found any kind of a ball game hard to resist. When we were at cattle shows, the kids would take turns playing with her. Once driving down the road in my pickup, I realized that she was missing from her accustomed perch in the rear. I remembered passing a group of kids playing ball a mile or so back, so I turned around in search of her. Sure enough I found her up the road dribbling a ball around with a pack of kids chasing her. Fortunately that is the only time I ever remember her bailing off a moving truck. Such was the lure of a ball game. A good way to break a leg however, as one of her sons did years later, working for our friend Dwight Riggleman at Wye Plantation, a celebrated Angus operation in Maryland. 
    I always felt Sandy was happier with people than with dogs. Once we went to Scotland and left her with neighbors who were kind enough to board her in their kennels. They raised bear dogs, and Sandy spent two unhappy weeks penned next to a bunch of noisy ill-mannered Plott hounds. There was no mistaking the baleful resignation in her eye as we climbed into our vehicle to leave without her. She was grateful to see us return, needless to say.
    She raised several fine litters of pups, all purebred that we sold into seven states. We always enjoyed those days, watching her brood of fluffy little ones tumble around, wrestling and chewing on each other, diving headlong into the scrum around the feed pan, or racing in a tail wagging pack to greet you, stumbling and falling over one another in the scramble, jumping on you, slobbering, writhing licking machines.

    We were interested to find that the inheritance of red and black color proved to be the same as with Angus cattle, red gene recessive. Bred to a red male, all the pups were red. Bred to a black (and white) dog with the red gene i.e. one that had sired a red pup, the pups were some red, some black, while bred to a homozygous black (and white) dog (no red gene) all the pups were black.
    Of all the pups Sandy raised, one that comes quickly to mind was "Pocket", a strange name deserving explanation. There was a celebrated Montreal Canadiens hockey player Henri Richard nicknamed "Rocket" presumably for his speed and power. He was followed in the NHL by his younger and much smaller brother Maurice, who was known as "The Pocket Rocket". The pup in question was by far the smallest in the litter, but was totally fearless and persistent, soon becoming the boss pup. Before long her nickname became abbreviated to "Pocket".
   Floyd, an older neighboring farmer had bought a pup from us years earlier which he thought highly of, but one day someone apparently stole him.The phone rang at six o'clock the next morning, Floyd wanting to know if we had a pup. I told him that the only one not spoken for was "Pocket", and described her as scrawny, undersized but sharp as a tack with the heart of a lion.
    "I'll be right down", said Floyd and arrived shortly later to pick up his new farmhand. As I remember we did not charge him anything since the pup was not much to look at and pretty small.
    Months later I ran into Floyd and naturally asked how the pup was doing.
    "Great!" beamed the old fellow,"The best I ever had!"
    He went on to describe how she rode to work in the tractor loader bucket and helped him feed the stock every day by keeping the hungry animals at bay until her master had all the feed in place. She would keep them from going through the gate until Floyd gave her the word. She would, he said, take on the meanest cow without hesitation.
    She was clearly the old man's pride and joy, and naturally we were pleased to have engineered such a happy and productive partnership.

    Sandy used to ride the tractor with me making hay all summer. Typically I would begin mowing and after making one round  would find her trotting beside me looking up as if to say
    "Stop this thing, I'm getting on."
    She would jump up beside me and stay there all day. If I got off to check something, she would stay in place, not dismounting until I turned off the tractor, which she knew was day's end.  
    There was only ever really one instance when Sandy got a scolding. On a few rare occasions, we had to leave her in the house alone through the day. If there happened to be a trash can stocked with fragrant kitchen scraps, she might pull the container over and sort through the assorted goodies therein. When we returned, she would greet us at the door, but shortly when Julie spotted the debris on the floor and called out in her schoolteacher voice,
    "Sandy, did you do this?", the perpetrator would slink into the darkest corner, head turned to the wall in disgrace. She knew precisely the error of her ways, but those chicken bones just smelled too good.

    I recall a strange incident one day when we had a litter of pups just about weaned in a large wire cage in the front yard.  Sired by Roy, an imported dog belonging to Tom Wilson, there were four pups born, and the pick of the litter had been taken by David Fowler from Iowa the day before. (David's dad Relly Fowler, a friend and Illinois North Country sheep breeder had got a good red pup from us a year or two earlier. Apparently he convinced David that the only place to get a fine dog was from us! David and family drove 1000 miles to our place, spent a couple of hours and drove another 1000 back to Iowa.)
     I was in the house at lunchtime when I heard a commotion out in the pup pen. I hurried out front to find a skunk had got into the cage from the top and had a hold of one of the pups. I quickly weighed my options. I was not particularly inclined to crawl into the cage and risk paying the noxious price for tangling with a skunk. I did not own a gun with which to shoot it, so opened the cage door to let Sandy take care of things.
    She grabbed the intruder by the scruff of the neck, violently shaking him and slinging him out of the pen. Skunks do not move very fast but this one did the best he could, hustling out of there before Sandy could work him over again, disappearing into the weeds.
    The pups seemed none the worse for their encounter, but I began to wonder. For a skunk to do what that one did was highly unusual and the ominous prospect of rabies crossed my mind. Sandy was vaccinated, but the pups due to their tender age were not. Talking to some locals, I heard about rabid raccoons in the area. The skunk had one of the pups by the neck in it's teeth when I first saw it. Checking with Dr. Janet Hoke, our very capable vet at the time, I was advised that the pups could incubate rabies for up to six months, during which time they would become dangerous to humans. Sadly we concluded that the only prudent course of action was to put the pups to sleep, the only consolation being that the handsome pick of the litter was safe, far away in Iowa.

    I mentioned Roy, the Scottish dog that sired that litter. His owner, Tom Wilson, another Scot lived near Charlottesville, Virginia. A year or two after the skunk incident, we were watching on television David Letterman's anniversary special from Radio City Music Hall in New York. Letterman is clearly a dog lover, and on this occasion had arranged for some Border Collies to move a group of sheep from the theater foyer elevator and out of the front door. Waiting at the street kerb was a taxi cab, door open, and in short order the dogs had the sheep loaded. The cab promptly sped away, presumably going wherever sheep go in New York City.
     The dogs and their handler ran down the aisle through the audience and crossed the stage to loud applause. This was Tom Wilson, introduced with four dogs, including Roy himself, who trotted nonchalantly at the rear, apparently unimpressed by the noisy throng and the fact that he had made big time network television.
    The most handsome litter Sandy had was sired by Dryden Craig, an imported dog that was runner up in the World Championship and owned by Jack Knox, the renowned Scottish dog man who lived near Lexington, Virginia at the time.  This was apparently old Craig's last litter, so we were lucky to have had the opportunity to breed to him. We kept a beautiful female from the litter, Tess, until Relly Fowler from Illinois talked us out of her, he having just lost his good red dog.   
    Another pup of Sandy's that we heard great reviews of was Jock, owned by our late friend Dwight Riggleman, herd manager at Wye Plantation as mentioned earlier.
    We saw a fine working red dog at a trial that we arranged to breed to. A top Virginia handler, Roy Johnson had gifted a red male pup to his six year old daughter, telling her she could name him as she wished. This explains why in the sheepdog world populated by the likes of Moss, Peg. Sweep, and Ben, there appeared "Roscoe P Coltrane." As good as he was, Sandy would have nothing to do with Roscoe, so we did not get to sample his progeny.
(Years later , we ran into Roy Johnson at a dog trial in Highland County,VA. We were amused at what Roy shouted at his competing dog - 
    "Sonny! - What did I just tell you?")

    My mother in law visited the farm on occasion and brought her miniature poodle Taffy along. Sandy clearly did not care for the noisy little intruder so would set off into the adjacent cornfield with Taffy at her heels. She would reappear shortly, trotting back to the house, secure in the knowledge that her irritating little follower was far in her wake, lost in the tall cornrows. A rather disheveled Taffy would eventually emerge, but being a townhouse pet, he was clearly not adept at handling the rigors of farm life. Apparently Sandy was well aware of this, and pulled the old cornfield trick on him every time he visited.   
    We were in a bad car wreck in Sandy's later years. All three of us were hurt, Sandy with a dislocated hip, which was the only time I ever remember her needing veterinary attention other than routine vaccination and deworming.
    Finally when Sandy was fifteen, arthritic, deaf and uncomfortable, we reluctantly realized that the time had come to say farewell to our best friend.
     We buried her on the hillside below the house, knowing we never would have another quite like her, and that few dogs ever had a happier life, or so many friends.
    Blessed are those of us fortunate enough to enjoy such a lasting bond of loving loyalty and trust.


                                                         *                ******************

                      SMOKEY and OPIE


          Smokey was the head cat on the John Mitchell farm when I worked there. She was a beautiful solid grey color, and unlike any cat I had been around before, followed me around like a dog.  If I was working in the barn clipping bulls or whatever, she would stay there all day, up on a nearby beam out of the traffic. 
    She had many kittens, and though the other cats around the barns were variously spotted or calico, her kittens were always solid colored, either grey or black and always handsome, well nourished and plump.
    One day as I drove in the farm lane, Taylor, a young lady from a nearby house stopped her car to talk to me. She asked if I could find her a kitten. She was soon ready to leave for college at Virginia Tech, and wanted a kitten to take with her. I knew Smokey had kittens about old enough to wean, up in the barn loft, so told Taylor I would try to catch one, since I expected they would be wild, never having seen people up in the loft.
    I climbed up the ladder to the loft and as I reached the top,, there were four kittens right in front of me. Three of them immediately bolted in fright, while one grey kitten walked right up to me, not scared in the least. I gently picked him him up and held him to my chest as I climbed back down the ladder.
    He didn't seen bothered at all by the new developments, so I thought I would just take him up to Taylor's home at the end of the lane. As I drove with the kitten in my lap, I remembered Taylor saying she was working as a lifeguard at the local pool and would be back later in the day. I presumed her mother, whom of course I knew, would be home.
    The lady was indeed at home, and when she opened the door I held out my fuzzy grey bundle. She recoiled, obviously not used to handling strange cats, and wondering what she was supposed to do with this creature.
    "This is for Taylor -put him somewhere he can't get out, and she'll take care of him when she comes home".  
    She gingerly and somewhat reluctantly took the kitten from me and I assured her everything would be fine as I headed back to my truck.
    A few days later, driving up the lane, I saw Taylor approaching and we stopped our vehicles  to talk. Her first words took me by surprise.
    "Can you find me another kitten?"
    "What happened to the one I gave you?" I asked, fearing the worst.
    "Mom won't let me take it to school - she fell in love with him -
 he's called Opie."
     Mom confirmed this shortly thereafter, and her husband Bill assured me that the cat had indeed supplanted him as the primary male family member and head of the household!

    Taylor found another kitten to take to school, and Opie remains in charge at home so all is well.


   Smokey and kittens - not Opie's litter, I must admit. Smokey is pretty lad back as usual, but the kittens are likely seeing a person close up for the first time, hence their look of alarm.The black one is keeping a low profile.


                  The kitten is about to land on his mother's head

              Something new to play with.



          Amazing what the internet can do for you.
           I entered "Jack Flash comic book hero" and found his picture.
                 He even packs a monogrammed briefcase, surely the only super hero to carry such a thing.

 We recently named a new sire prospect "Jack Flash". I thought it might be in order to explain where the name came from. The original Jack Flash appeared as a "Beano"comic book hero in Scotland in 1949 and several years thereafter.
    A rather effeminate Superman like character, he had little wings on his ankles which enabled him to fly and better outmaneuver the bad guys. Many years later, the Rolling Stones enjoyed much success with"Jumpin' Jack Flash" but the comic book hero was the original.
    We actually had another Jack Flash on the farm about 30 years ago . He was a crossbred steer calf we raised that topped a club calf sale we had in Ohio. He won Athens County, and several jackpot shows and wound up at the North American in Louisville. I was there that year and went to find him in his stall in the steer barn. There he was, looking pretty stout. Above his head hung a sign saying "Big Bad Black".
    "There's Jack Flash", I said to the guy brushing him.
    "Jack Flash?" he repeated.
    "That's his real name" said I with conviction as I strolled away.
    A couple of hours later I wandered back through the steer barn.
    There was a new sign hanging over the stall.



  A good ram we sold to West Virginia as a lamb in 2009, he was out of the same ewe as the $2000 ram we sold in 2012. After two lamb crops in West Virginia, I bought him back, and then sold him to Tennessee, thanks to Kim Caulfield who put the deal together. The buyer was an older gentleman who was a novice shepherd, and soon determined raising sheep was not for him. The ram was sold to a lady in Alabama. A year or two later, the lady called me.
"I understand you raised the ram we have. He is beautiful - he is far too good to be with my common sheep - he needs to be with his own breed"
"I would take him back", I told her but " I'm not driving to Alabama."
"Maybe I can bring him to you" she volunteered.
"You don't need to do that. I'll figure something out."
"Well if you do want him, I'm going to China for a month if you are trying to get in touch".

Shortly thereafter, I was arranging trucking for sheep we sold to Minnesota and Kansas with Jonathan Lippert.
"While I've got you on the phone - do you ever get to Alabama?"
"I'll be there next week"
"Can you pick up a ram for me?"
"Sure- tell me where."

So I called the lady in Alabama - no answer. I remembered she was going to China, so I emailed her. She got right back to me, to say she was indeed in China, but would get word to the farm, to get the ram ready to send.

Most likely the only time I will ever need to contact China on a sheep deal.

I was sending 30 North Country females to Bruce and Robin DeWitt in Minnesota.  I called Bruce to see if the old ram was of interest to him.
"How much do you want for him?"
"Since you are buying all these sheep, I will not charge you for him. He's kind of skinny- needs feed"

So the old buck set sail one more time. The Dewitts sent me a picture later after Robin had rolled the chow into him, and said his new name was "Hank" 



        We went to take pictures of Boer Goats near Goshen for Nathan and Sue Haver, and walked up on this scene - guard dogs pups and a goat. This picture was on the cover of the Boer Goat magazine.


    Just to show that Scotland does not have an exclusive on the pretty scenery, some pictures from Virginia. (I had not intended this site to be a landscape gallery - but it kind of got away from me.)

           Near Sweet Chalybeate, Allegheny County. Interesting name.

                     Bluegrass Valley, Highland County

    One of the prettiest spots in the Eastern U.S., according to this reporter.

      Bath County - foreground        Allegheny County in distance.
  Picture taken on the Ginny Burruss farm. As of 2013, Ginny is 92 years old, and one of our favorite friends



  Best in Show at a local fair.

                                  Bluegrass Valley, Highland County

Bullpasture River Gorge, Highland County Looks like fairyland.

           Just a reminder - we got three feet of snow overnight once in winter 2010-11 - fortunately I had just put new rough treads on my pickup and to my surprise was able to drive through it and tend to the sheep.



                John Mitchell's cows grazing on the farm north of where our sheep run on the Bowen place which is in the background. This is Allegheny County, looking south.Tthe Bath County line being behind the camera.
       This picture has an unusual little story to add in Spring 2013. Our young friend Chris Johnson went to auctioneer school in Iowa. He was required to bring something from home to sell in the charity auction ending the week long course. I gave him a copy of this picture as typical of the mountain scenery here. The picture topped the auction, bringing $2250. All of the proceeds went to St Jude's hospital


               2011 Fall color near Garthright Dam, Allegheny County.


                Humpback Bridge, near Copvington, Allegheny County


                             Near Pott's Creek, Allegheny County



                    Bluegrass Valley, Highland county.


                          Winter on Warm Springs Mountain, Bath County. taken from Ingalls Overlook.                                                                                    

                 Below; Falling Springs, Allegheny County


Smith Creek, Allegheny County.


  From Airport Road, Warm Springs Mountain

    Potomac River near Bluegrass, Highland County, near it's source.

         Jackson River Road , Allegheny County. Nick Pillow's cows. The picture was taken the day after we got three feet of snow.


         Near Mill Gap, Highland County.

We had an extremely mild winter 2011-12 but did have one snowstorm. I got the chance to take a few pictures around our house.  





                       Potts Creek, Allegheny County

         Humpback Bridge near Covington, AAlegheny County, VA
 Pictures of the bridge are usually taken from the other side.


         Near Vanderpol, South of Rt 84, Highland County,VA

For many more landscapes of the Virginias, go to our photo website


   We have a part time business doing livestock photography on farms and at several shows.  We have trimmed our show schedule, but still work the State Fairs of West Virginia and North Carolina, having done so since 1999. I enjoy landscape photography as a hobby and am blessed to be surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty.

                            WEST VIRGINIA
                    A state blessed with abundant fine scenery, unbeknown to many.        


                             Knapp's Creek, Pocahontas County.

           Neal Kellison's barn at Edray, Pocahontas County.
Neal used to say that he wished he got paid every time someone took a picture of his barn.


             Near Union in Monroe County - beautiful countryside.


             Sunset at Foxcross Farm, Allderson, Greenbrier County. The farm was formerly owned by Ken Clark, a great Angus breeder and friend who died in 1985, when his Craigie Angus herd was dispersed. Ken made many trips to Scotland buying herd bulls for the renowned Wye Plantation Angus herd in Maryland. As successful as that program became, Ken's eye for herd bulls  clearly provided a major contribution. 
    His Craigie cattle provided a major foundation for the currently renowned Conneally herd in Nebraska, among others.

                The Greenbrier River near Seebert, Pocahontas County. My young hay helpers and I would often wind up in the river here after  a hot day baling.

Near Union, Monroe County, fall 2011.

                                   Greenbrier County

    We went to this farm to take pictures of a bull - he wasn't even on the right farm, but we found him.

           Near Hillsboro, Pocahontas County - "  Little Levels" We spent 23 years in that community

                                            Near Union, Monroe County

                          MORE SCOTLAND

All of the following taken on the last trip - 2006 using a Canon 20D.

          Dunvegan Castle, Isle of Skye. Ancestral home of the Clan MacLeod

         Caithness coastline looking north from Latheron. North Sea to the East.

         Edinburgh Castle. Pictured from Princes' Street Gardens.   Scotland's most impressive fortress.

             Near Cupar, Fife. Some of the best farmland in Scotland can be found in the "Kingdom of Fife"

          Crail,Fife a fishing village and favorite haunt for photographers.

          Portree, Isle of Skye A charming town - the colorful paint jobs on the houses adds to the scene.

          Near Coral Beach, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye. Looks more like the Caribbean.

           Seals near Dunvegan, Isle of Skye. There are small boat tours all day long to see the seals, so they are quite relaxed with sightseers. I was always amazed at the infinite variety of coat colors that seals display.

             Eilan Donan Castle, near Kyle of Lochalsh. One of Scotland's more photographed castles.

           Near Kintail

        Loch Ness  - no monster in sight. 30 miles long, approx.1 mile wide, the deepest fresh water body in Europe at 800 feet. My birthplace Inverness nearby.

         Looking North from Royal Dornoch golf course, Sutherland. A highly regarded course, with magnificent seaside scenery.

         St Monance, Fife.

        From Trotternish. Isle of Skye. My paternal ancestors came from Skye.

                                 Lybster Harbor, Caithness.

        Waternish Bay, Isle of Skye. A friend of my brother owns a cottage on the bay - kindly let us use it when we were on Skye in 2006. One of the white houses all the way far right.


                Stained Glass in Dornoch Cathedral, Sutherland.

 This page currently includes 79 pictures, mostly landscapes. I keep waiting for some notification that I have exceeded my space allotment, but it hasn't happened yet. I hope you enjoy all the pictures - if you are reading this, you must. 

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                             We went to take pictures of Boer Goats near Goshen for Nathan and Sue Haver, and walked up on this scene - guard dogs pups and a goat. This picture was on the cover of the Boer Goat magazine.                                          ************Just to show that Scotland does not have an exclusive on the pretty scenery, some pictures from Virginia. (I had not intended this site to be a landscape gallery - but it kind of got away from me.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              



































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