Saturday, 1 June 2013

The one-eyed shepherd

I did a post once about Sultan the shepherdess, but I didn't mention another shepherd who takes his flock up the hill behind our house to graze.

I don't know his name.  He is a small wiry man who has sight only in one eye. His wife is very big, twice his size, and she seems to henpeck him somewhat.  She walks behind the flock shouting orders to the shepherd, until they get to our lane, then he takes over and she returns home...he seems to give a huge sigh of relief at this point.

 He has had a series of dogs over the years to help him herd his sheep.    Since we moved here I often  give him biscuits for them, and bones when Mr A brings them from the butcher shop.  At the moment he brings just one dog with him, a kangal mix, who appears to have no interest in controlling the sheep.  The sheep wander off in all directions and the dog just glances at them and does nothing.  He's actually taken quite a shine to Poppy, and is more interested in sniffing her through our gate, which is even more of a distraction.

The shepherd normally passes between 5.30 and 6.00am at this time of year.  Sultan follows about half an hour later from the other direction.  Sometimes they arrive at the same time and the sheep get mixed up and confused (actually I think sheep always seem confused).  Not that it matters of course, because they all have ID clips in their ears, so get sorted out later.   They  all return a couple of hours later and repeat the performance early evening.

I'm usually up feeding my dogs around this time in the morning, so I make sure I don't let them out for a run until the sheep have passed.  Last evening when the shepherd passed by he stopped to talk to me.  I have so little confidence in my ability to understand this language, and to be honest the village dialect doesn't help me to grasp what's being said.   I get the gist of it, and after the conversation has ended, I try to re-run it in my mind in the hope that I've understood.

He was saying something about letting my dogs out for a run, but I couldn't make out whether he was telling me I should or shouldn't do so.   This morning after my dogs had been fed I opened the gate and let them out.  Just at that point the shepherd, sheep and the useless sheepdog arrived.  The shepherd smiled, and I did my best to concentrate on what he said, which was that I should let them run with him, the sheep and his dog, and he would bring them back 2 hours later.

Wonderful!  Last night I had no sleep because there were dogs barking all over the village, and mine insisted on joining in.  I so envy the Turks who seem to be able to sleep through any amount of noise.  I can hear a dog barking miles away and I'm wide awake. So I was pleased at the prospect of going back to bed for a couple of hours and a bit of peace and quiet.

It didn't quite work out though, as my three returned 15 minutes later.  I guess they are getting so used to their home comforts that they don't want to be away from them for too long!  Maybe we'll try again later.

No sleep for me, but I am feeling much better today and my appetite has returned.  The stomach bug seems to have crawled away so I'm heading off to Milas this morning for a bit of shopping and a Lavazzo coffee.  If I can stay awake!


  1. A Kangal or Kangal-mix won't be much use for herding the sheep. They are no herdings dogs but livestock guarding dogs, bred and imprinted to guard a flock on their own for long periods without a sheperd. If raised from early age without livestock but in a village without contact to a special family (as a streetdog) they will guard the village alternatively. I never realised this difference until recently when I started asking myself why my dog had so little in common with the herdings dogs I thought he was a mix of... :)

    Your pack might get used to go on a walk with the sheperd, but their main occupation will probably still be guarding your house and the village, so their instinct will drive them back soon enough.

    I try to keep the barking at a minimum, stopping him after the first few barks and "taking over". But that is easy with one dog that is mainly inside our house.

    1. The kangal mix dogs are used extensively for herding sheep in a lot of areas here Johanna, and generally quite successfully. I've seen them in action. This particular shepherd I feel is not particularly good at training his dogs, which is probably why he has had a succession of them. He doesn't take control...maybe due to being henpecked by his wife :-)

      The lovely thing about taking in street dogs is their immediate instinct to guard you and your property. Such a shame that most Turks keep them on short chains to guard their properties, which is so cruel. I tell them till I'm blue in the face that if they are left unchained, are fed and watered, they won't run away and they will protect them...but they take no notice.

      Oh yes...very easy to stop one dog in the house barking...not so easy with three outside!!

  2. Glad you are on the mend and are feeling better....I learned to sleep over a barking dog. Next door we have a Scottie and he never stops barking.
    In Izmir the apartment upstairs had a Jack Russel....he barked NON-STOP. Sometimes at night we could hear comsu's yelling to shut up on their balconies. Finally he would settle down till the 5 am morning prayer from the Mosque he would start the non-stop barking..... Well it was a single lady Attorney who owned the dog and she would tell people ....Sue me.:-( when they complained.

    Those poor people who have those sheep sure work hard. I couldn't get up that early to walk around with those sheep...mind you they are cute.
    I got a chuckle about the nagging wife.....sounds exactly like my neighbour. I think she's a professional husband has a fit when he sees her and she's henpecking her husband....he just goes back into the house.'s to a good day for you and some peace and quiet. Hope you don't have any demonstrations in your area.

    1. Hi Erica. Well I can't really complain about dogs barking can I? It's my own fault for adopting them! It doesn't bother me too much really because it's not as if I have to work, so I can nap during the day if I'm tired.

      The demos are spreading all over Turkey now. The police brutality is appalling. There have been deaths and serious injuries. People want this present government out, and even though the demo started over developing the park in Taksim, it's become much more political now. There is now a complete media blackout here in Turkey. No demos in our little village. I doubt any of the villagers are even aware of what's happening!

  3. Nice of him to suggest taking your dogs with him...and how typical dog to decide enough was enough and home was best!

    Things don't sound good in Turkey...Erdogan has done his best to neutralise the army while encouraging the police to do as they please.
    Ataturk didn't give the army special powers for nothing and now we see why!

    1. Yes it was Helen. They charged off after him this evening and stayed away a bit longer this time. Mind you, Megan has limped back. A year or more on the streets, at least one litter of pups and malnutrition have taken it's toll on her. She has arthritis, poor girl. I'm giving her anti-inflammatories at the moment and she has a daily dose of Glucosamine and fish oil capsules, so hopefully that will help.

      Erdogan had much support when he first came into power, but he is becoming a dictator. At last the Turks have found their voice and they are sick to death of him. I'm so proud of them today. Ataturk would turn in his grave at what Erdogan is doing to this country. I was going to do a blog post about all this but decided against it as no doubt I would be blocked, so hopefully my little comments won't do any damage.

  4. So glad to hear that you are feeling better.

    I think it might be this weather but the neighbour's dogs are barking more than they usually do.

    1. Thanks omentide. Yes I wonder if the weather affects them this way. It's certainly very strange weather right now isn't it? We have gale force winds here again this morning..worse than last week :-(

  5. I love the idea of the sheep getting all mixed up and having to be sorted out later! Sounds a world away from other parts of Turkey where what is mixed up will take longer to sort out. Axxx

    1. Oh absolutely Annie. Who knows how it will all end :-(

  6. Hello Ayak,
    I saw your comment on Perpetua's blog, and flew over here to check out your blog. You had commented how your pet tortoises eat the same weeds as her garden visitor, aka The Hare. How interesting! My Hubby has three pet tortoises and they eat the exact same weeds. I'm not fond of the reptiles. I think they are high-maintenance, but they are cute. What kind of tortoises do you have? Hubbs has Russian.

    I see you live in exotic! Last year I read this book The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It was enough to convince me to visit Turkey after I retire. I've never been there. In July I will be traveling throughout India, though.
    Nice to meet you. I will pop over your cool blog soon. Right now it's hard to blog because I'm just too too busy.

    1. Hello Nerima, and a warm welcome to my blog. Tortoises are everywhere in Turkey. I don't know that much about them so I have no idea what type they are, perhaps I'll search online and find out more. To be honest they aren't really pets. They just appear every year in our garden. I think they hibernate in gaps in the drystone walls during winter. Two appeared this year, and I also brought one in from the lane outside our house to save from being run over by a tractor or flock of sheep!

      They don't need any looking after, they just wander about and feast on weeds (well not exacty weeds...purslane to be precise) and vine leaves. I put down water in the lids of cake tins for them to drink, although I noticed this morning that one of them was paddling in it! There are usually babies somewhere but I haven't seen them yet. One year we had as many as 4 or 5 babies. They come and go and are quite interesting to watch.

      If you ever get to visit Turkey I am sure you will enjoy it. It's a beautiful country with very friendly people.

  7. What a lovely description of your early morning! Loved it!
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May


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