This Scottish island wants to hire a sheep warden


Are you sick of your desk job? Do you crave salty sea air, adventure and … sheep? If this job description sounds up your alley, then you should apply to be a sheep warden on the remote Scottish island of North Ronaldsay. Yes, this is a real job.

The job seems to be mostly about land maintenance. It requires caring and repairing the large, stone dyke, a wall or embankment that prevents flooding from the sea. The dyke keeps the North Ronaldsay sheep on the shore and away from the island’s grassland, which could kill them.

North Ronaldsay sheep are prized for both their meat and their wool. However, they are strange creatures: Their diet consists almost exclusively of seaweed (hence why they need to be kept away from the grass), and they are grayish-brown and scraggly — not at all like the fluffy, white sheep you might be picturing.

These sheep are also incredibly rare (so take your warden job seriously!).  There are only about  2,500 sheep on the island itself, and just 550 breeding females on the mainland in Scotland. This means the breed is listed as “vulnerable” on the watchlist of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in Kenilworth, UK.

“The warden role was always something we’ve wanted on the island as the amount of dyke that needs rebuilt is beyond what local people can do,” John Scott, chair of the North Ronaldsay Trust, said in the job posting. “We’ve had a lot of success with the three years of volunteering through the festival, but it does need more than that. If we have a person who’s full-time, we can get more dyke built and more critical ‘strategic’ dyke built, too.”

Would this responsibility appeal to you? Well, you’ll need to be “physically able, resourceful and fairly resilient as it’s hard work,” according to the job description. This is a three-year posting, requires 35 hours a week and will pay approximately $24,222.

“Given the unique nature of the sheep dyke’s construction, we’re not necessarily looking for someone who has a lot of experience in dry-stone dyking,” Scott said in the job posting. “It could just be someone who is able to pick up the necessary skills fairly quickly, while showing a willingness to roll up their sleeves and contribute to all other aspects of daily island life.”

Interested? Get more information or apply on the North Ronaldsay Trust website before Aug. 9.

About the Author

Jessica Suss

An aspiring food and health writer, native Chicagoan, and nut butter enthusiast. Jessica is also the creator of BiteMeBlog, but don't call her a foodie More.

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