I love sheep. I am head over heels, stop-the-car-right-now wild for Irish sheep. With an estimated 3.4 million sheep in Ireland, my squealing like a three year old behaviour during our time in Irish countryside became a non stop event.
My husband and brother in law, bless their patient driving souls, began to wear ear plugs so as not to succumb to hearing loss from the frequent Irish sheep sightings and the consistent “SHEEPIES!” from the back seat.
Armed with a camera around my neck and smart phone in hand, I allowed the car to almost stop prior to flinging myself toward a herd of the bleating beauties.
Sheep in Ireland come in all colours. Although it may surprise you that I am prone to exaggeration, Irish sheep truly cover the rainbow.
Set against backdrops of rolling green hills and mountains, farmers often paint their sheep. This simple and vibrant way of identifying sheep allows multiple owners to share pastures which are sometimes enclosed by stone walls or wire fences.
Having witnessed a tourist being shocked by an Irish electrical fence I can say that one should be cautious upon approaching said sheep. Having nearly been electrocuted myself as a child in rural Canada I have a great respect for any fence, even when the much loved sheep are involved.
Besides pure identification of the sheep in Ireland, during mating season, rams spread some colour of their own. With a bag of dye tied around their neck they leave their mark on the upper back of any ewe they mount.
The farmer then moves the newly painted ewes away from the ram into another field. Talk about marking one’s territory.
Approximately five months later the lambs are born. Thankfully for my road trip travel mates we were not in Ireland for lambing season. I suspect I would have been banished from the car and left in a pasture to find my own way about Ireland.
No matter how much you love Irish sheep hang on to your phone
So it was on a day when visiting a ring fort that the smiling faces of the painted sheep caught my eye. With a non-locking gate at my disposal I walked toward the woolly wonders.
Now you might say this was trespassing, I’d like to think of it as visiting. With camera around my neck and smart phone in hand I happily chatted up my Irish sheep companions.
At last when thinking I might be pushing my luck with the farmers of Ireland I stood up and promptly slipped on a deposit of sheep manure.
In a juggling-gone-bad act, my smart phone twisted and turned as if in slow motion. With one last desperate attempt to save my phone came my frantic swipe. Changing position the phone landed squarely in the sheep excrement, charger end first.
I believe my sheep friends smiled watching the sad scene. Picking up the not so smart phone, now covered in a unique Irish souvenir, things looked rather grim to say the least.
With a frenzy of tissues, wet wipes and some requests to the patron saint of those who drop phones in sheep doo-doo, the phone blinked itself alive. Nothing short of an Irish miracle.
If you are wondering if this stopped me from looking for more painted Irish sheep the answer is no. How can you resist these charmers in their coloured wool? My phone still suffers from charging irritability. Who can blame it really?
Have you ever dropped your phone in a less than optimal location? Can you outdo a pile of sheep manure?
Hahaha wonderful story, and ‘charger end first’ was particularly unfortunate! Was it an iPhone that got doo-doo’d?
Yes the iPhone it was. I know not a lucky break to go in charger end first. Every time I wiggle way at the charger now i think of those sheep. I believe they really were chuckling. 🙂
Too funny Sue. We bussed from Dublin to Galway and trained back, and saw, as you can imagine, more sheep than we’ve ever seen before. And we came up with the same question about the colors as you did. We suspected the ID issue but not the breeding. But, on a bus and train, I’m happy to report that we didn’t get close enough to have a personal poop encounter. That’s experiencing Ireland up close and personal. Lucky you. 🙂 ~James
James sometimes my enthusiasm gets me into trouble and this would be a prime example! Still how can one resist those sweet faces? Well possibly by remembering that the pone has suffered significant consequences from cavorting about the pasture. Definitely up close and a bit too personal. 🙂
During travels in Ireland last year, discovered that the colors on the sheep show who they belong to. Adjacent farms each have a unique color or color combo, so if the sheep wander, there’s no question who they belong to. That, and the “proof of mating” thing.
A fascinating way to keep track on one’s livestock isn’t it? I hope you had a fabulous trip an enjoyed Ireland as much as we did.
You gave me my out loud laugh this morning! Sorry, it was at your expense! ?
Gosh… did Apple guide you on how to clean up the “mess?”
I can not believe how much it takes to be a Shepard of these beautiful creatures.
I follow a woman on Instagram that has quite a few sheep on the rolling hills of Virginia. Every photo is fabulous.
Loved your post and the pictures. And I am happy to report noting YET has happened to my phone. ?
Well my IT guru son has been helpful in that you can clean out the charger so that has helped to some degree but I believe the sheep have left a lasting impression unfortunately. Glad you had a good laugh as that was my intent. Really that is the best way in life when things don’t go quite right. I often think ” Well that will make a good story!”
I’d love to see the woman’s photos so if you get a chance let me know her IG page. Meanwhile hang on to that phone. You never know what kind of adventure its going to go on!
I would have never guessed about the neck bag of dye to mark the mating sheep! I’m a freak for sheep and other animal sightings also; in countries where animals outnumber people, you can imagine how thrilled my travel mates are to stop the vehicle every few feet. Although I’ve never had a really awful phone drop, my son has a ridiculous (but true) story of dropping his in a porta-potty, actually somehow fishing it out and cleaning it, and then losing it later that night in a cab! (Maybe for the best!)
Now that may be the most fascinating, or awful, phone drop story ever. I’m often worried about the possibility of doing just that in porta potties. Yikes! It seems the phone was determined to leave him.
I find it impossible to resist animals. Those big inquisitive eyes begging to have their photo taken. Glad I’m not the only one.
Oh my, you do get yourself in the most unique situations, don’t you!! This may end up in one of my books. Too darn funny. I would be forever smelling sheep poop on my phone after that. Now I am curious about the wool from the painted sheep. When my daughter was small, about three or four, we took her to a petting zoo. She was delighted to stroke a fluffy sheep. We told her that the sweater she was wearing, lovingly knit by my mom, was made from wool from a sheep just like that. She said, “You mean grandma made this from a pink sheep?” Well, now that I see your pictures, she may have been right!
So we were told by one farmer that exactly the wool is used as already coloured. Coming from a farm background I wondered if the sheep we were seeing weren’t headed off as lamb shanks. Another theory is that the wool is bleached free of the dye. It sounds like a good research project to me.
I would love if the scene ended up n one of Amanda’s adventures! If I tried to do it I don’t think I possibly could have managed it.
Great story, Sue. I’m sure your phone got the full disinfecting treatment after that unfortunate episode. The sheepies are too gorgeous. I doubt that anyone could beat your smart phone in rainbow sheep poo story. Mt grandson Max once threw his mom’s phone in the bath, and not to be outdone, our son dropped his in the loo. 😀
Sylvia I’m afraid the poor phone gets frequent wipings just at the memory of the incident. Sounds like it was a family of iPhones looking for water at your son’s house. Yikes that double trouble for sure!
Great story Sue. Like you, I just can’t pass up cute animals.Really neat about the dye packs. I may be able to top your phone story though. We were remodeling our bathroom and had removed the toilet. I wasn’t smart enough to put something over the opening and while bending down to pick something up off the floor, my phone fell out of my pocket – straight down the plumbing hole. Luckily, it was about 6 feet to the sewer pump and it didn’t slide all the way. I was able to get a shop vacuum and suck my phone back out. I’ve never carried it in my shirt pocket again!
I actually gasped reading your story of the phone plunge! It’s amazing you were able to get it back and how creative a way to rescue it! Yes these hard learned lessons definitely stick with us. I’ve learned that holding a camera and a phone at one time can lead to a messy situation.
Dang, I didn’t see any colored sheep when I was in Ireland. Then again, I didn’t step in any sheep poo either, so maybe that’s a win? ?
Well there is always a bright side to everything right? Happy to show you both sides of the story.
Gosh, your smart phone! Enjoy the reading and photos, Sue. I didn’t know they paint their sheep. 🙂
Until we visited Ireland I had no idea about this painting but just loved seeing them. Glad you enjoyed seeing the photos and hearing about it Amy.
Oh no! I cannot top that. However, the colored sheep are just too amazing. What a sight. And I completely agree that what might be construed as trespassing, is sometimes actually just visiting 🙂 Love the post, Sue.
I thought you might know about that ‘visiting’ idea Wendy. I think I may have witnessed you doing similar activities. You would love Ireland and these extraordinary sheep.
I’ll have to live to be 120 if you keep making me add to my bucket list with these amazing places 😉
There’s a good goal! We’ll have to start our round the world tour immediately!
Fun post. I remember enjoying seeing the painted sheep — but I did not know about the rams “marking” their territory.
Amazing what we learn as we travel. The world is such a big classroom. Glad you enjoyed the post.
My phone has miraculously survived several unplanned swims, but manure? Oh dear, no. That truly is unfortunate. You are sooo lucky – in an unlucky kind of way – that it still works.
Yes initially I thought it might be done for. Pretty lucky all things considered I would have to say.
So funny, Sue. A forever souvenir and memory of your precious sheep! I don’t have a phone, so I never smudged anything on it, but I have a very strong sense of worry, when I use those vault toilets in National Parks (and elsewhere in the US) with my camera in my pocket. I am so darn worried, it will fall out and drop in the deep, endless shit beyond, irretrievable. Yeah… Scary to use those toilets. Same worry about the Fitbit in my other pocket, although that would not be such a tremendous loss.
Sounds like you can definitely relate to the fear of losing things whether it be a camera or a phone. Oh those dropping toilets make me freak out. I’m afraid that would be the end of most anything sent plummeting down there.
Oh, dear! That’s one story that would be hard to beat — thank goodness! LOL! 😆
Yes something you don’t want to put do! Or is that doo-doo? 🙂
Laughing really hard, Sue. Your dilemma led me to quickly google how to clean your phone when you drop it in sheep doo-doo. I didn’t find any answers but I did find how to clean your clothes. remove-stain.com/clean-sheep-poop
I’ve managed to slip on and land in cow pies a few times… much worse from my perspective. And once I came close to high-centering a VW bug on elephant poop in East Africa. Does that count? BTW, Scottish sheep have a lot of personality as well. New Zealand sheep not so much. 🙂 –Curt
Curt you definitely win with high centering on the elephant poop! You are the gurus of adventure stories my friend. I appreciate your research on my phone issue. My clothes washed up quite nicely. Maybe I should have thrown the phone in the wash! 🙂
“Maybe I should have thrown the phone in the wash!” Not. 🙂
You re likely right on that one. 🙂
Ewww! Glad the phone responded to some judicious wiping. Given the rainbow colours I must assume the sheep of Ireland are bred for meat and not for the wool.
Alison I’m not sure. Definitely there is a huge wool industry. Some people told us the will that is dyed is used as that colour. I do think we were seeing some lamb shanks in those fields.
Well, I’m sure you will think twice when it comes to running after sheep now..haha…Sheeps look cutest from a distance…i had personal encounters with sheep in NZ, droppings and all…hahaha! I hope your phone survived with no lasting problems..I’m quite clumsy myself so my phone has been dropped so many times, they never last for me. The last time I dropped mine so bad was one month into my NZ trip. It died on me but upon revival, it was never quite the same again. My screen flickered like crazy on one side every time I used it but I had to bear with it for the next 5 months. It was so embarrassing because EVERYONE commented on it when they saw me use my phone, even strangers! 🙁
Oh dear those slippery phones! Sorry to hear you had to deal with a broken one for all those months. It seems we are traveling sisters when it comes to slipping in sheep doo-doo!
Hahaha, now I know who I can turn to for me to lament my poor reflex skills…;)
Oh yes maybe we can form a support group!
Hahahaha yes, yes! Our stories are probably enough to laugh at each other if we are in this support group…hehehe ?
I think we would share many laughs Sha. I hope one day we will connect.
Hahaha oh for sure…if I ever make it to that side of the world, I would love to do that…haha ?
We have extra room for you to base from Sha. The Canadian Rockies are calling your name. 🙂
Oh I hear them calling no doubt…but one day, Sue…one day hopefully!! Thanks for the kind offer of a base, that might help some – who knows?!! Hehehe 🙂
We will keep our fingers crossed to hear of Canadian trip plans.
The coloured sheep are fabulous! If I’d seen a picture like that floating around the internet I would have thought it had been Photoshopped – now I know it ‘s the real thing.
And oh, your poor phone! Fortunately sheep poop isn’t too obnoxious – it’s a lucky thing you weren’t visiting with pigs at the time your phone decided to take a dive. Still, though, I wouldn’t like to be the one fishing it out of the heap. And… *fingers crossed* …I’ve never dropped my phone in anything unpleasant… yet. If I ever do, you know you’ll read about it on my blog! 🙂
Diane I grew up on a farm and we had lots of pigs. Thank goodness for small mercies and sheep poop. Not quite as a liquid experience thankfully! Yes I imagine you would have a very colourful description should you have your own dropping!
Aren’t those colours something? The sheep in the lead photo must have been newly dyed. So vibrant!
Fun and funny! Well, for me. Charger-end first into a pile….not funny for you. Still, funny for me. I’ve often (read: always) wondered why they can’t build the phone with a cord on it. So you can hang it from your wrist. I don’t think I got one good shot of the sheep in Ireland. Maybe we blame that on the dang Guinness.
I think you should invent that cord business Badfish. Obviously I would be in need of such a security feature. Glad you had a good laugh as it was intended that way. Must be the Guinness for sure but I did spend a fair amount of time tromped my about sheep pastures. Basically a sheep stalker.
I’m always afraid of dropping my phone…so easy to do. I bought one of those cast-iron covers for it. I just don’t know why I couldn’t photograph a sheep…karma.
Cast iron you say. A little weight training day to day. Sorry the sheep were not cooperative. Temperamental beauties.
It’s one of those “Defender” cases. Rubber and aluminum actually. But yeah, heavy.
Can never be too safe. 🙂
Painted sheep! Very interesting post with such beautiful pictures. I have never seen sheep like that, but then we don’t have that many over here, and usually they are fenced in.
Happy to share these lovely sheep with you. I love even non painted sheep but these pretty ones really stole my heart.
LOL I’m a fellow sheep squealer … but it is their wonderful wool I love, hahaha I’ll skip the part you fell in….
Oh yay for a sheep squealer friend! Such lovely wool and I shall try to avoid further doo-doo interactions
This was really quite the hilarious post. Did you actually saw someone get electrocuted by the fence?
‘woolly wonders’ Hehe, I think the sheep would be honoured to take up such a regal name. You look so happy sitting on the grass with the sheep. I take that the shot was taken pre-phone scene. Visiting as opposed to trespassing does sound about right. Bit of free space, free for all really 😀
Very sorry to hear about your phone but it’s nice to hear that it still walked away with a life. It is very blessed indeed. Hope you didn’t fall when you stepped on the sheep doo-doo. That would be the most important thing, that you are okay. There must have been a lot of that doo-doo for the phone to get stuck in and also get somewhat damaged like you described :/
Cannot outdo you dropping a phone. I cannot think about dropping my phone. Even a piece of dust on my phone screen is enough to drive me crazy 😀
Mabel the fellow who touched the fence got a nasty shock. He didn’t get electrocuted but an unwelcome pain in the hand that’s for sure.
Yes the sitting by the sheep is pre phone drop and in another location. the incident began with me slipping and then the juggling of our camera and my phone and the phone lost. Good point that the most important thing is I came out uninjured.
Mabel I hope your phone stays safe and sound. I’m not so keen that mine had this adventure that for sure. However all I can do is laugh at this point. 🙂
You can create a funny story even without trying Sue! How ingenious to paint your sheep in order to later find them. I have dropped my phone but certainly cannot compete with your antics. 😉
LuAnn you make me smile. I’ve come to think that some of the unfortunate incidents in life make the best stories. It has helped me frame when things don’t go so well. Glad to hear your phone has been more well behaved than mine!
I always feel sorry for the sheep. They grow that lovely fleece and then the farmer daubs paint all over it. How would we feel if someone spray painted our buttocks?
That made me laugh out loud. Yes likely not too amused I suspect.
And If I bought a new coat one year would I be happy if someone spray-painted it?
True enough Andrew. Poor sheep.
???I roared at your recap of your phone story! Luckily you were able to recovery it even if it punishes you for being ‘pooped’ with charging irritability. Early in my sailing career, I lost my phone in the ‘drink’ when I walked backward off a dock. We were mooring our dinghy after a multihour sail in very inclement weather and I was exhausted. Rather than just shorten the painter to bring the dinghy closer, I walked backward until I ran out of dock. I had my phone in the pocket of my foul weather gear and it didn’t survive the plunge.
Loved your colorful sheep. They would have had me squeal with glee as well. And thanks for the top tip to stay away from those electric fences ?.
Oh dear for you poor sodden phone. Yes amazing how they don’t recover from drowning very well. Ugh. Delighted to give you a good laugh Lisa and who can resist those sweet sheep?
Lol great 🙂
Thank you Joshi. So glad you enjoyed.
I confess to also being prone to slamming on the brakes when seeing sheep and goats and cows, oh and elephants! Love your report from the trenches and Irish sheep lands. I assume you now use your phone on speaker phone and not to the ear! But seriously, these are some gorgeous sheep!
Ben I can tell you that when in Africa I almost came unglued at the sight of elephants. The phone had some thorough disinfecting but there may be an odd aroma of ‘sheepiness’ still floating in the air. 🙂
Let’s see….what did I learn today…oh yes…to properly track a “stud”, hang a bag of dye around ones neck. I also learned that Sue really has a sense of determination, since she had to clean her phone herself as I’m sure no one wanted involved in that aspect of her plight!!
Love the painted sheep…I would have been jumping out of the car doing the same thing with my camera…hopefully not my phone!!
Had a co-worker accidentally drop her cell phone in the toilet at work. Trust me…she was on her own fishing that out….:)
Glad to know you would have been with me in the ‘sheepies’ photography craze. Well minus the phone doo-doo episode. Sorry to hear about your co-worker. Ugh. Some of the things readers have shared in the comments have made me feel like my sheep episode was a relatively clean affair!
Fascinating Sue. I’d not have guessed this is why the sheep were marked, or the method for marking them. Clever. I am so paranoid around electric fences. I recall my parents warning us whenever we visited farm country in New Jersey. The fence seems so innocent but goodness it could nearly kill ya.
Ryan it likely serves you well to have some paranoia around electrical fences. Some people tease me that it explains a lot about me when they read the story of me nearly doing myself in with such a fence as a kid.
Oh Shannyn what a childhood memory! That is a nasty trick. I have no doubt you could smell it for days. Delighted you had a good laugh. Makes me so happy.
No phone story to share, but this summer in Scotland I saw my first “burnt orange” color sheep. I can assure you it was beautiful.
I’m smiling at the image of that sheep in my mind Amy. Thank you!
So funny Sue. No I haven’t dropped my phone into less than ideal spots. However during my last race a couple of weeks ago I was talking to a runner who had a friend who previously dropped his phone in the porto-a-loo.
But amazing about the paint. It would really be so cool to see all the colors of paint. In New Zealand, during my visit last December some trails so cross sheep ranches and the trails are temporarily closed during lambing season.
I bet you saw a lot of sheep in New Zealand Carl. Interesting about the trails being closed during lambing season.
Sounds like you are wiser with your phone than I. Oh dear to the runner and the port a loo phone adventure. I have previously thought that would be the ultimate worst place for one to go.
Yeah there was so many sheep there who. Found it so incredible. 🙂
Would love to see it for myself one day Carl. I remember those posts of yours fondly.
Definitely would be a dream come true!
How ever on earth are you going to get from one place to the other when you visit NZ Sue? There are a gazillion sheep there! We have painted cows for similar reason. They get pained on the very top of their tail, then the cows mount each other when they’re in season. We know to cut them out of the herd after milking for AI. 🙂 Top the story of dropping in sheep poo? Paul once heard a pile of mud ringing…it was his phone. He took it apart dried it out and it worked 🙂 Sound like you loved Irish sheep Sue 🙂
I had no idea about the painting of the cows Annie. So much to learn in this world. I chuckled (sorry Pauly) about the mud pile ringing. I think it is astounding that the phone survived! That could be a commercial for the brand.
I imagine there will be tons of squealing and stopping should we find ourselves in new Zealand. Oh my what fun!
I’m not laughing at you. No, really, I’m not. Baa baa Black sheep oh no, Baa baa purple sheep. Baa baa orange sheep doo doo? So I guess I am laughing at you but what a fun post. Did you try to put your phone into a jar of salt? I’ve heard people have success with that. ?
That comment made me laugh! Complete with doo-doo emoji! The good news is that the phone dropped in solid doo-doo and so was not submerged in liquid. I have heard of the salt trick and rice too for more watery circumstances. I’m hoping to hang on more tightly.
Nope, I can’t compete, Sue 🙂 🙂 The best I could manage was sending mine swimming with no water wings. Some mermaid or seahorse is probably chatting away on it as we speak.
I so loved this post, Sue. I loved hearing about the Irish sheep, learning about the farming of sheep and mating process with paint, and learning about ring forts. I was taken aback by the first photo with the painted sheep, enjoyed hearing what that was about, and found the photo of you hunched up with the sheep truly delightful. Then the story with the not-so-smart phone in the sheep doo just had me giggling uncontrollably (I still am). Always a joy to be here, my friend, thanks for this fun time today.
Jet such a delight to read your comments. Always appreciate the time you take not only to read the post but to give such detailed feedback. As you know I am always tickled when I can leave a reader laughing and especially you. Have been thinking of you and Athena so often and hoping each day is a bit easier than the next.
I had no idea about the purpose of this sheep marking!
Amazing how we learn as we travel. I didn’t know about it either!
Smiling. At least your phone was smart not to do a hard landing. What a beautifully painted story.
Yes that is a very good point. It could have landed on a rock! So glad you enjoyed the story. xo
I’ve seen painted Irish sheep. Only I was not in Ireland and they weren’t sheep. In fact, I’m not exactly sure what I saw. I will admit to having a bit too much to smoke that night, but that was a long time ago in a land far, far away. Now I see only regular sheep. But Lynn is just like you are with sheep. Except with horses. Whenever we see any horses, I have to stop the car. Of course, we have never seen painted horses. But then, we’re American.
Oh Emilio I am laughing. You are so hilarious. I will admit I was wondering where you were going. No painted horses you say? Well perhaps you can start a new trend in America.
Amazing! Smiling. 🙂
Glad you enjoyed.:)
I’m sorry but I’m laughing too! What a great story to share with us all. ? so glad your phone is still working.
It really is hilarious isn’t it? You just can’t make this stuff up. The phone is functioning but definitely persnickety about charging.
Would it be possible to get a good HR image of your photograph of the painted sheep? I need it for book I am doing on American artist Rockwell Kent.
Christy can you please email me the details of what your require? email@example.com