Scottish Highland cattle are reportedly one of the oldest cattle breeds in the world, possibly dating back to the 6th century. In their home country of Scotland, these cattle regularly face the brunt of North Atlantic storms and severe winter climate, making it a tough and hardy breed. Here in the states they are most commonly viewed as a hobby breed. With long, shaggy hair and long horns, they don’t fit the mold for typical cattle in the US landscape, but I enjoy seeing them scattered across my travels. This photo was taken on a farm east of Billings, Montana, but our lack of winter may have her wishing for a haircut!
The Psalmist reminds us that we are only temporary stewards of the Lord’s many creations, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” Psalms 50:10
“Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God, Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.” Psalms 147:7-8
The Psalmist, it seems, could have easily been in Ireland when he wrote these words of thanksgiving. Most everyone has a mental picture of the country’s verdant, green landscapes, but they are so much greener than the mind imagines. Unfortunately the camera didn’t do justice to this wonderland. The island’s nickname, the Emerald Isle, is indeed appropriate! The timing of our trip landed us at the perfect time to appreciate the beauty of the land. Most of the southwest portion of the country is made up of small farms, yet larger, more extensive range sheep and cattle outfits were resident in the mountainous regions.
One of the uniquely picturesque areas we wandered through is known as The Burren, a term derived from the Gaelic word boirreann, meaning “rocky place.” Aptly named, The Burren region is known for its limestone terrain. Some of the mountains are seemingly solid limestone, and outcroppings of limestone meander through the valleys. Yet, between the flows of stone, strong pasture grasses flourish in the soil. The wash of stone has been the source material for fences which traverse thousands of miles and have survived centuries of use.
Between the mountains, the rolling landscape is dominated by farms with small pastures of cattle, sheep, hay and grain. The image above shows one of the larger herds of dairy cattle we saw through our week-long adventure. On the steep, rocky mountain slopes, flocks of sheep are very common. At a point along the Ring of Kerry, near Moll’s Gap, we stopped to photograph the landscape and sheep. The thumbnail images below share those views, as well as the Gap of Dunloe passing through the mountains on the distant horizon. Click on the thumbnails for a larger view.
Everywhere we traveled, the vistas were stunning and the people were friendly. I can’t remember a time or place when I felt so at home in a place so foreign to me. Singing praises of thanksgiving to the Lord came naturally to me in this land. Even in the popular, tourist-infested locales, the pace of life was laid back and inviting…well, except for the roadways! But then, that is the subject of a future post.
- Country Diary: The Burren, Ireland (guardian.co.uk)
- Seeing the Burren and heading to Ennis – Ennis, Ireland (travelpod.com)