Sounds of Romania: the good shepherd

Shepherds are awesome people. I have met quite a few of them by now and I continue to be amazed. Their lives are tough: they live outdoors throughout the summer season, come rain or shine; they walk many kilometres each day, make cheese, carry sick sheep, and have to fend off bears. Only yesterday I met a shepherd who recounted that last Sunday, two bears killed four of their sheep. And last night we heard gunshots coming from the stâna next to our lodgings – to scare away another bear. Apparently in autumn bears come down into the village to eat apples and plums – to do so they tear down an entire apple tree and then start eating. Enough about bears – here is a short impression of a shepherd in the Retezat Mountains, and a small collection of pictures of various shepherds I’ve met.

This shepherd told me they herd 800 sheep between them. About ten get eaten by bears every year. In late September/early October, they head down to their owners in the valley to hibernate. Sheep are kept for cheese, wool and meat. At night, the flocks stay in a stâna; a corral-type enclosure. Flocks are protected by a number of sheepdogs; usually of the Ciobănesc Românesc Carpatin type. However, there is also one other small but important dog present – to keep the flock together, as you will see in one of the pictures below: it’s usually either a Mudi, Puli or Pumi dog. These shepherds, their flocks and their dogs definitely constinute an important part of the mountain soul. I wouldn’t want to miss them.

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