SHEEP FARMING ON THE BORDER
The sheep possesses all the virtues. Those whose lot is cast in the hills of the Scottish Border (as is the case of the writer) will know how to pity the poor sheep who have to find their food on the hills from December to the month of May—hills which are sometimes deep in snow, and which at best grow browner and deader day by day, often till June is reached.
Yet the sheep work on, often doing with no other food than they can pick for themselves, or, perhaps, a little hay at the best. This is in what is considered a good winter. But generally, in the course of these months the monotony is broken by storms of snow or wind—or both united— which produce terrible suffering to the poor animals, and to their masters.
My great-grandfather, who lived on the same farm as we do, kept minute diaries of these things, and from these, as well as from the stories of the ' Ettrick Shepherd,' I have got my information.
The first big storm recorded is that known as the 'Thirteen Drifty Days.' It was about 1672, and must have occurred soon after sheep farms were set going on the Border. Now, a steady fall of snow, unless it reaches a great depth, is not a very great misfortune, as the sheep scrape away on the steep hillsides with more or less pluck (if you watch them you see a marvellous difference in degree), and they manage to get enough to live on, as the grass is always fresh beneath the snow.
But if a wind gets up and drift sets in, one sits by