Four years ago, Hayley had never even seen a squirrel in-person before, let alone sheep, but now incredibly she is training to become a shepherdess with two of her own sheep.

Hayley lives in Scotland with her brother and Swiis foster carers Alison and Ron. Prior to moving to a small village in the countryside to live with Alison and Ron, Hayley had never spent much time in the countryside, but all that changed when Hayley took part in the ‘Estates that Educate Programme.

The ‘Estates that Educate’ programme select students from various schools to visit local estates to learn about agriculture and estate life. After one of these visits, Hayley’s foster carer, Alison, spoke to Lianne MacLennan from the Angus Moorland Group about how much Hayley had enjoyed her visit and if there were any opportunities over the summer that Hayley could take part in.

In July of last year, Hayley was offered the chance to help shear sheep at the Hunt Hill Estate. On Hayley’s last day the manager of Hunt Hill Estate, Neil Annand, said about Hayley “She really got stuck in and used her initiative without being asked to do things. It was very refreshing to see in a youngster, she really demonstrated an exceptional work ethic.

Neil then invited Hayley back when the lambing season commenced over the Easter period. Hayley was supported by her foster carers Alison and Ron to attend Hunt Hill Estate to learn and help with the lambing.

Hayley worked alongside Simon and Laura, Hunt Hill Estate’s shepherd and sheepdog trainers. They were extremely impressed with Hayley’s enthusiasm and willingness to work and learn.

Towards the end of the lambing period, Simon and Laura kindly gifted Hayley two lambs to start off her flock.

Hayley, Alison and Ron

Hayley’s foster carers, Alison and Ron, managed to locate some land for Hayley’s sheep with Ron building, (with Hayley’s assistance), a pen for the lambs in their back garden until they were big enough to be in a field.

Simon and Laura visited a week after the lambs had been with Hayley and were impressed with how the lambs have grown, possibly doubling in size. The lambs eventually grew big enough to move into the field in May 2023.

Lianne MaclEnnan (Estates that Educate) and Hayley MacDonald (Young Ambassador)
Hayley, Alison and Ron

Hayley’s foster carer, Alison, told to the Daily Record

“Hayley and her brother had never seen a squirrel before and entered into life in a wee village. We bought them a horse and they have taken up horse riding.

“Hayley is very quiet and very reserved, she doesn’t like school but knows she needs to go to agricultural college to fall back on. We never thought Hayley would take to being a shepherdess so easily.

“She was able to try sheep shearing and we received feedback saying how well she had done. She has learnt so much more by doing hands-on work.

“Hayley has got two lambs and it looks like she is going to get another two, then she will have a flock, which is four. She’s so keen, there is also talk about getting a sheepdog. Our friends have got land, and also kids who are into farming.”

To find out more about becoming a foster carer with Swiis Foster Care Scotland, please visit our website or call 0333 240 9049.