Meet the aspiring teenaged shepherdess

Meet 14-year-old Hayley MacDonald who hopes to become a shepherdess after she hand reared two adorable lambs – and got a sheepdog. 

Hayley, who lives in Friockheim, Angus, with her foster carers Alison Yates and husband Ron, fell in love with sheep after working at Hunthill Estate through an Estates that Educate course last year.

The free countryside and upland education project is offered to both primary and secondary schools and is hosted by Scotland’s Regional Moorland Groups.

Last summer Hayley got to experience sheep shearing at Hunthill Estate and found a passion for the animals.

The estate gifted Hayley two blackface lambs of her own – named Bonnie and Blossom – in April and she hand-reared them over the spring.

‘I had to get up at 6.30am before school to feed them and while at school Alison kindly fed them,’ said Hayley. 

Hayley with Bonnie and Blossom.

‘Once back from school at 4.30pm I would feed them again and then at 9.30pm before I went to bed.  

‘Now they are within the field I only have to feed them once a day and this doesn’t have to be a specific time.’

Dedicated Hayley even got a part-time job with Dundee United football club to help pay for looking after Bonnie and Blossom.

Hayley feeding the lambs.

‘Within the field they have a shelter which Ron and I built for them,’ Hayley said. 

‘It has been extended recently as the sheep grow and also because I might shortly get two more lambs.

‘I love being outdoors, and the lambs are great company.  

‘They have characters and they are helping me learn the basics of looking after sheep, and what they need.’

Hayley is hoping to extend her flock in the coming weeks with two more sheep and even got a Border Collie to help look after them.

Hayley is training pooch Peanut, aged one, to help with the flock. She gets up early everyday to walk Peanut and helped Ron build an outdoor run and kennel for the Collie.

Hayley and Peanut.

Alison said: ‘We didn’t think a year ago Hayley would be where she is today .

‘Hayley has been given some great opportunities and more importantly has taken these opportunities.’

Hayley is now a Young Ambassador to Estates that Educate.

Nearly 2,000 young people will have taken part in a training session by the end of the year, gaining a valuable insight into rural careers and helping them connect with nature.

More than 100 members of estate staff across Scotland will provide a combined 3,800 hours of skills-based education.

Lianne MacLennan, national campaigns manager for Scotland’s Regional Moorland Groups said: ‘Hayley is an incredible inspiration to us all.

‘She has been so determined since the first moment she was introduced to the upland flock, even getting a part-time job to pursue her dream of becoming a shepherdess.

‘The shepherds and gamekeepers are delighted to share their love of nature and their skills with children across Scotland as often young people just don’t know about the rural careers practically on their doorstep.’

Read more news on Scottish Field’s news pages.

Plus, don’t miss the September issue of Scottish Field magazine.