How to shepherd at us by Madeleine Benterfalk

The biggest adventure of my life…

It all started with me seeing a post on FB where the Sand family searched for a shepherd on Skarvheimen to look after about 1200 sheep.
I’ve always wanted to go for a longer hike in the mountains and not the chanse was to combine that with sheep was a dream coming true.

I contacted Alex, that shared the post, and got her to tell me how it would be. I was curios if I had the experience for the job, I have had Border collies since 2002 but only as a “hobby” and helping farmers a bit. Alex worked at the Sand family and told me the work is to go over a larger mountain area to check over the sheep. You could cover all area on one day but usually you took shorter walks in different directions. You parked the car on one spot and then walked in for about 2 hours to a inner cabin where you had gas for cooking and a stove for colder days, you could charge the phone with a solar battery but the reception on the phone was not the best so you had to walk up some mountains to get the phone to work. And the water was in the stream outside… HELP!

It was a bit of a chock for me, I am a 45 year old dentist from south of Sweden and had never done something like that before. I am used to park the car up close from where I stay, shower a lot and always easy to get in touch over the phone. Well, just get over it and prepare for a big adventure.

The journey started 13 of july. Jon & Torunn Sand invited me to stay at their place adn then travel up together with Jon so he could show me the grounds. What a wonderful family! They have taken so good care of me and I felt very welcome. And they live on a wonderful farm, like a small castle!
Me and Jon started the next day our drive up. Torunn had packed a lot of food with sausages, bacon and egg. I thought my days up there would only be dry food but now it change to luxury dinners insted.

It felt like we drove for ever but we finally we came to the first cabin where we parked the cars. Now we packed the bags and I think Jon had a small laugh when he saw my backpack. If I am doing something like this again I will change the way I packed. I had two backpacks, one small and one big.
I also thought I was qiuet well trained but after this i got a reality check. The walk started up a mountain and I actully thought I was going to die. Jon was nice and took many small brakes and he also took my smaller backpack, and that was probably good because othervise I would have thrown it away…
When we saw the inner cabin it was like winning the lottery. What a feeling! I don’t remeber much from that walk and wonderd if this was a good idea.

After some food and new energy we took a short walk so that Jon could show me around. First time Jon sent his dog I was very impressed. You could almost not see the sheep but he just sent Fleet that listend well and then just like that the sheep was at our feet. Wow!
After that it was dinner and I fell asleep before I lay down. Jon stayed a few days to show me around and help me to understand what I was to do these days. First job my dog “Go” did was good and after that I got a bit disappointed as she “got carried away” after some sheep. Jon was very down to earth to talk to and he explained that it is not very strange for a young dog to be like that on the hills, the sheep are fast and the terrain a bith rough, also the sheep has bells aorund their necks so it is special for the dogs. Jon said he felt safe to leave me there anyway.

Jon told me about the history of their mountains and it was so interesting. How much experince he has!
We shared about 70000 steps on these days and we bacame good friends. A man I had never met before. He left me alone for the week and the only problem I had now was getting back to the cabin by myself. I had to call him after 2 hours so he could explain the way back.

We started our days to go over the river and collect the sheep that had cross. Both me and the dogs got more and more experienced every day. Me mostly by finding the way back home. Haha.
After dinner we took a hike on the other side of the mountains. When you have so many different ways to train your dog you think you are going to train everyday. But we where so happy with our everyday job so we just trained a couple of times. These days I have learned more about sheepdogs in work than I have ever done. It has been an AMAZING.

And it has been wonderful to get to know Jon and Torunn Sand closer. It is a fantastic familiy. Thank you for the opportunity i got to be a shepherd for you!


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