Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Angie an Dhomhnullaich's Heifer.

It must have been 1954/1955 when the name Macleod,5 Dalmore was announced to the expectant throng in the playground of Carloway Primary School. This was not a prize giving for the "scholars" of the school,but was one for exhibitors at the Carloway Agricultural Show,everything from "6 matching first crop potatoes" to " a mare or gelding over 16 hands". "Cattle shows" were big in these days,important people officiated at their opening,and this must have been due to the fact that there existed real crofters in these days, with real cattle,real horses, crofters who grew their own potatoes in really long feannags(a ridge of ground).This was a bonanza year for us (quite unusual),and we picked up a number of 1st prizes including one for Daisy,our beautiful Ayrshire cow,and another for our superb Shorthorn heifer. The 1st prize for the best collection of wild flowers went to me!
The prize winning heifer was a perfect specimen ,who would have triumphed at any of the mainland shows. She had attracted the attention,some time previously of Mr. Angus Macdonald,farmer,auctioneer and butcher,a Stornoway "Big Wheel". Well before the cattle show,my uncle Shonnie Glass sold the heifer to Angie an Dhomhnullaich,as the big farmer was better known,for the princely sum of £96(that was a huge price in those days). Angie stipulated that, since he now owned the beast,any prize money won by the heifer at show,should fall to him. Shonnie said that he had promised "the boys"(me and my brother)that they would show the heifer,and collect any prize money it won.(1st prize,I think,was £7,and the wild flowers came in at 7/6d). "Angie,if that's not to your liking,you had better take the £96 back again." Mr. Macdonald did not push his argument,but suggested he would be around a few weeks after the "show" to collect his prize animal.
For the weeks that followed,the heifer grazed with our two cows over the beinn,on the Garenin side. That is not strictly accurate, because one evening the "buachaile" arrived home with the cows,but no heifer! That "buachaile"(cow-herd)was not me. That night,and many times during the ensuing days,various people scoured the hills,the moor and even the cliff tops,but there was no sign of the young shorthorn. The area involved was actually quite small,which made the animal's disappearance very strange indeed. My uncle had been very proud of his heifer,and pleased with his deal with Angie an Dhomhnullaich. But now he had all but given hope of seeing it again.
It was after lunch and I was stretched out on the being. I announced to my mother and Aunt Dolly that I was going up the beinn to find the heifer. "Well,go on a'ghraidh and tell Shonnie",said my mother with a wan smile. Shonnie was in the weaving shed and simply reminded me of how many had searched.and how long it had been missing(7 days)."But go ahead if you must". Now,it must be remembered that it was I who took the cows out most mornings,and consequently I had a fair idea of the cows favoured grazing "routes". I decided to search the ridge of the beinn, not so obvious to others.As I searched carefully,I came to a point on the edge of the beinn directly opposite Cnoc a' Choin,and there on a steep grassy slope were long wet marks,caused by an animal sliding. A few feet below,there was our heifer firmly wedged between two immense rocks,looking very thin and sorry for herself. I think she was glad to see me!
Entering the weaving shed,Shonnie said what I had expected."Well,Iain,did you find her?" "Yes,I did find her" and moved fast to tell the folk in the house,with my uncle in pursuit.
Men from Dalmore and Garenin carefully extracted the heifer, from what might have been its sarcophagus, with ropes,crowbars etc. She was very thin but uninjured. She immediately started eating the grass nearby,and in time filled out well,before Angie Macdonald came to collect her. Shonnie never said a word,and I never "let on."

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