Thank you for your patience, dear faithful reader. As promised several posts ago, here's the denouement of my trip to Graemsay and, more importantly, an explanation of this photo...
As I walked about the island, tractors and trailers were transporting sheep to the pier, in preparation for being loaded onto the ferry and sent to the auction mart in Kirkwall for a sheep sale.
So, by lunchtime, when I tabbed back down the hill to catch the ferry, there were many more animals waiting in the queue ahead of me. To be fair, agriculture is the lifeblood of this small island, so I did not have a problem with the priority system.
As the mv Graemsay (no relation) tied up, the sheep were moved down the pier, closer to the boat.
A small band of islanders were expertly swinging into action, organising temporary fencing and corralling the animals.
A wooden gangway was hoisted into place, allowing the sheep to be driven down it and onto the boat.
I have to say, though admittedly I'm no expert, the animals were calm throughout the process, with not a sign of stress. I wasn't so relaxed, mind, until the boat's crew informed me that I didn't have to go down the gangway!
Once everyone was safely on board, the ferry set off on the short sailing to Stromness, and I began to wonder how the heck the sheep were going to disembark. The mv Graemsay's berth is alongside a set of steep concrete steps.
I should've guessed the answer, I suppose, because as we sailed into the harbour, we headed for the Hamnavoe berth instead, where the large car ferry docks after its crossing from Scrabster on the Scottish mainland.
Then it was just a matter of loading the sheep into a truck for the 10 mile drive to Kirkwall.
The next sheep sale is tomorrow (Monday), I believe.
You'll notice that the sheep disembarked first, too. The other three passengers and I had to wait a bit longer until we were at the usual Graemsay berth, before we were allowed to scamper up the steps.
I have to admit that it has taken super-human powers of restraint to not fill this post with sheepy puns. All things considered, I don't think I've done too baa'd.