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THE WILD SHEEP OF THE MONACH ISLES | Farming in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland

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The Sheep Game

Visit the uninhabited outlying islands of the Monach Isles (Heisker) which is a National Nature Reserve and lies off the west coast of North Uist.

This low lying group of islands with undisturbed machair, with a rare carpet of wildflowers and a large breeding grey seal population, are linked at low tide.

About 10,000 grey seals come ashore here each autumn to have their pups and mate, making the Monach Isles one of the largest such colonies in the world.

There are also a large number of nesting seabirds and a rich flora. Grey herons nest in some of the abandoned buildings as there are no trees on the islands.

The Monach Isles have long played an important role in Hebrides sailing tradition. In the 13th century a chapel with links to Iona was established at Cladh na Beide on Ceann Ear and the monks maintained a beacon fire on the nearby island of Shillay, one of the smaller islands in the group.

A red brick lighthouse was built in 1864 by the Stevensons and a newer light was installed in 1997.

With their amazing isolation and exposure to the elements, it is no surprise that the Monachs take a leading role in Hebridean lore. The islands were reputedly home to an exiled Lady Grange, who had been kidnapped by her Jacobite sympathizing husband, for two years before she was taken on to Hirta (St Kilda) and finally to Skye where she died after a failed rescue attempt.

Several companies provide day trips to the Monach Isles from Uist.



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ABOUT ME

I’m 31 years old and I’m a sheep farmer from Ayrshire in South West Scotland, which is why I have such a strong accent! I was born and raised on a sheep farm watching my dad who was the shepherd.

At 18 I went away from farming to work in the city (something I still do) and at 23 (2013) I decided I wanted to do something for some extra money so I went on a sheep shearing course. The hardest thing I’ll ever do was learning to shear sheep. [shudders thinking about it]

I shore whilst on my holidays from work for 2 years and then in 2015 my dad died so I decided to get my own sheep so I could continue working with sheep as it was something I loved doing. From there it escalated quickly from my first 4 sheep in my mum’s garden to now running around 600 breeding ewes.

I shore over 15,000 sheep this season in UK and I also travel to Norway for shearing in March and September. (Covid messed it up this year)

A few years ago I bought myself a sheep pregnancy scanner and have been building up my run since then.

I watched a few farm vlogs on YouTube and decided I could have a go and now here we are!

Thanks for watching my videos and please subscribe if you want to see more in future.

posted by sufiras9j