Punding

Pund

noun \ ˈpu̇n(d) \

1. An enclosure in which animals are penned. English "pound".

Pund

verb \ ˈpu̇n(d) \

1. Communal gathering of the clowgangs into the punds.


Clowgang

noun \′klɔugɑŋ \

1. A flock of sheep which graze together. From Old Norse, klaufa, clover-footed animal and gangr, walking.


Last week marked the punding of the North Ronaldsay sheep for lambing season. This island wide activity sees people running and driving slowly behind the sheep along the beach in order to herd the sheep towards the punds. But like they say, be a sheep and follow the crowd, if one turns back the wrong way, they all follow!

Handsome ram in the pund

Olly and I were dropped off at a pund and tasked with hiding behind the entrance wall in order to stop sheep who had gone in the pund from getting back out again, but not being seen by the sheep who were being herded towards the pund. Crouched below the wall , we didn’t have much idea of what else was happening, but I had a small gap to peep through in the wall to see when there was sheep coming. As some sheep entered the pund they crowded in the far corner, eyeing us and the exit up. With a couple of sticks to stop them coming through and stones to bang to deter them from making a run for it. Unfortunately our defence strategy wasn’t quite up to the agility and strength of these formidable sheep, and 3 broke through and out of the pund. There was no denying our failure to contain the sheep. Peter, one of the sheep owners, was not far outside the pund and would have seen the escapees! Alas, none of the sheep we managed to contain were yows (ewes).

Waiting in the first pund

Back in the vehicles and off to the next pund, the sheep were being driven to a pund near the Old Beacon and another near the Old fish house. As we neared the sheep and a few started to turn back towards us, Olly, Gavin and I leapt out to chase the sheep on foot and deter them from heading behind the vehicles. Next, I was in a pund, crouched behind the wall, in order to close the gate when the sheep were in. But this time all the sheep had gone round to the next pund, so we moved on.

Waiting in the pund near the Old Beacon

Down to the pund at Quoybanks, we could just about see the vehicles moving behind the sheep on Linklet bay, driving the sheep up the coast and towards the pund. We lay still behind the hurdles which created a barrier from the waters edge to the corner of the pund, which would funnel the sheep into the pund. It was a sunny and still day and flies swarmed around us as we nestled against the rotting seaweed. A few chancers made for the sea to go round the hurdles, but we managed to turn them round and back up to the pund.

Hurdles down to the water to stop the sheep going past the pund

With all the sheep punded for that day, we helped Heather and Gavin sort their sheep and yows, recording the ear tag numbers, and tying the yows legs so they could be driven down to their fields by the Bird Observatory. We then helped Sinclair, find his sheep and yows, and administer drench (dewormer).

Olly ties the yows legs ready for moving her to the field
A pund full of sheep, long exposure photograph. So many colours and movement

The next day I went to help Alison, Heather and Gavin with punding near the Bird Observatory. They made the process look extremely straight forward, herding the sheep from Nouster bay, round past the pier and into the pund. With all their own sheep coming into this pund, there were many to sort through, making sure the yows went into the field, and the males back onto the shore. We finished in time to go straight to Linklet to herd the sheep south to punds near the Point of Bridesness. Heather drove Laura, Phoebe and I as far as possible down Linklet behind the sheep before we jumped out to run behind the sheep. The three of us spread out from the top of the beach to the waters edge to encourage the sheep to keep going South. Banging stones together and shouting as we ran at any of the sheep that turned back towards us. A few times there were groups of sheep that made a run for it to go back past us, but these were mostly males. We had to move quite quickly to keep up with the sheep and keep them moving South. A couple of lambs that had already been born on the shore were scooped up by Laura, and we made it round to the pund.


This time we stretched out some fencing mesh from the pund to the shore to stop any sheep heading back up from the other pund didn’t go all the way back up to Linklet Bay. Unfortunately Pheobe was at the waters edge with the mesh and got hit by a few rogue waves! Once all the sheep were round we helped sort the ewes for Heather, 2 of which had a couple of peedie lambs in tow.

Annotated map shwing movements and locations of punding

Not long after Olly and cycled home Heather called to offer us 2 lambs to bottle feed…


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