Saturday 21.09.19 I was in the mountains behind the municipality of Sauda, south west Norway. We where near the water of Slettedalsvanet, in Slettedalen.
In early summer we drive most all of our 100 or so, sheep from the Hogganvik farm up to Slettedalen so they can be self sufficient with grass all summer long. This procedure is done by most all sheep farmers in Norway.
I woke 04:50 that morning in order to prepare myself for the 1,5-hour drive to the site of the gathering. I had been a little anxious about it all and I was glad to start the drive. When I arrived at 06:40 there was greetings, breakfast, coffee, and a warm stove.
We were about 10 people from different farms who had sheep there, who were walking in the mountain to locate sheep – and bring them down to the large pen where we would separate them to the different farms of where the sheep will be for the winter.
It all started very well and we walked deep into the valley, away from the pen and our cars. I walked up into a mountain side, from where I would walk in a way that where painful for my feet over time. I was walking straight forward in a 45-degree hill. So that my feet would be forced sideways, almost sliding, and by this create a burning under my feet. It felt like blisters after a while. I walked like this for about 3 hours. I considered to cool down my feet in a river, but I thought that I did not have a towel to dry and that it would compromise my comfort with being wet on my feet. I see now that I was overthinking the issue and that I should have simply cooled down in water sooner. Later when my feet where really soar after walking – I did dip them into the very cold mountain water. And if there is something, I have learned to appreciate in later years it is to properly cool down in water. And this water was really freezing – and a lovely relief for my feet. After that I was still walking down towards the pen, still scouting for sheep. At this point I was alone and walking steady back down in direction the pen.
Then I discovered 7 sheep. I could hear their bells from far, but now I saw them. I was standing 70 meters from them and catching my breathe, and they were standing and looking at me, and I thought; I want to share myself to the sheep for the best possible outcome of the intention of mine – to bring them down to the pen.
So, I decided in that moment – to go back to my principle when working with animals. To do what I can to make sure things are done in deep consideration and respect for the animal – when I handle animals. That is one of the principles that I made to myself when I came to Hogganvik village and farm.
So instead of me going into my mind box, thinking about what to so, I decided to share in speech to the sheep, my ideas and intent. I told the sheep, in spoken words, something like this: “Listen up guys, my feet are hurting and I don’t feel much like running after you, so let’s cooperate and find the best way for us to together to come down to the pen, ok”
Now I am not a sheep whistler, lol but like I say I have my principles and I do know how it could compromise the situation, if I was to go into reactions, anger, fear or emotions else. If I go into emotions and reactions, they will notice that and possibly take of in some other direction – out of fear. Its about principles and within that, integrity and understanding.
There was a brown sheep that was the leader of the pack of 7, easy to notice, and I was saying these words to her. So, after stating this they still stood still, breathing under the heavy wool having grown on their back all summer. Then I made sure I was clear of reactions – I started to clap my hands and say “HOI” and “let’s go” – so that they started moving. I was a little nervous that they might suddenly take of in another direction, but the whole situation evolved fine. The leader sheep had experience and knew where we where going. So, all of a sudden, to my surprise we were all suddenly down by the pen. The sheep had stopped, outside the pen and seamed not willing to enter. And again, I took to talking my inside to them, in self honesty, telling them I really did not have the strength to run after them into the woods and that the door to the pen was open, lets move inside. After some back and forth, some testing of each other, I stayed on my principles and I managed to get all 7 inside the pen. I told the brown leader sheep, that, I would write a text on the experience and so I did!
After this I was still catching my breathe, and calming down, I again went for a dip of feet in water.
Which was again even more to my likings. And I felt deeply empowered and strengthened from having actually talked the sheep into cooperation, knowing deep within the sanity of that and not needing to run after them into everywhere out of reactions, emotions and projections. My physical body – and my being have made me aware of how this cooperation between me and the sheep, really did play out and evolve, and it is really so simple – yet we make it so complicated.
So brown leader sheep & group of 7 – this is for you guys and cooperation of beings.
I drove back home to the village that afternoon – from having spent the whole day in the mountains. My body was aching and soar and yet my spirit was so high lol. I felt marvellous and I was so content with classical music on the radio, my body all exhausted and my being so fresh and renewed!
Thank you Slettedalen!
Pictures from the event:
For a deeper understanding of sheep :