East Tennessee breeder is one of only about 20 in the country raising Scottish Blackface sheep
(WBIR-Strawberry Plains) A farm tucked in to the corner of Jefferson County feels a little bit like Scotland. And that's OK with Philip Lakin.
"My father was originally a farmer. He bought this farm in 1974 when I was in the service," he said.
It was in the service that Philip Lakin discovered Scottish Blackface sheep. They have distinctive black faces and both sexes have horns.
"We used to go up to the Scottish Highlands for training purposes and that's where I ran into a bunch of these little critters," he said.
He now breeds those critters on his farm in Strawberry Plains. He said he is one of about 20 breeders in the country who raise this particular type of sheep. They are prized for their strong wool and grass fed lamb meat.
"It must be in my DNA because my family is originally from a peninsula in the Scottish Highlands and I go over there about every four years and find a sheep farm to work on," he said.
One guy can't keep all the sheep in line and that's why he has Kelso.
"As long as you're the alpha dog it can do the work of 10 men," Philip explained.
Kelso was born to do the job of herding a flock of sheep.
"You have a border collie. And a border collie was developed back in the 17th century out of about seven different breeds of dog. It's about half wolf and you can tell that by the way it kind of prances around and tries to stalk its game," he said.
Kelso is trained by voice command to perform specific maneuvers to move the sheep.
"They've always stuck with the old terminology from Scotland. Away from me means go counter clockwise. come by me means clockwise. From then on you have walk up, lie down," he said.
Kelso obeyed each command.
"Right now he's six years old and he'll do anything I ask," he said. "I can bring a trailer right here and say load them up and he'll put 25 sheep in a 14 sheep trailer."
They have a good relationship. But Kelso is not a pet.
"He's an employee," he said.
Every employee needs a break. Kelso waited to take his until Philip said he can.
And then it's quitting time.
Philip Lakin has sold some of his lamb meat to a restaurant in the Old City: Boyd's Jig and Reel.