A RECRUIT with a difference has joined the team at Dumfries House.

There are staff from numerous backgrounds at the Estate but Border Collie sheepdog Gel is a different breed of worker.

The eight-year-old is not a blue collar employee, rather a dog collar one, who is currently undertaking on-the-job training with Dumfries House shepherdess Charlotte Darwent.

Charlotte, aged 25, is originally from Knutsford in Cheshire, moved to Cumnock four years ago take up employment on the estate’s working farm alongside her three other dogs — Dot, Maggie and Flash.

She said; “Whilst I don’t come from a farming background, I’ve always been really interested in it.

“Growing up, I used to help local farmers during lambing season as I wanted to gain as much experience as possible.

“My day-to-day job at Home Farm varies depending on the time of year but I am very busy during lambing season, which is due to start in April.

“Gel is in training at the moment but I’m hoping she will be ready to help me bring the sheep in during lambing season alongside my three other dogs.”

Home Farm, where Gel is based, is a working farm that sits adjacent to Valentin’s Education Farm on Dumfries House estate.

The education farm hosts hundreds of school pupils from East Ayrshire and beyond each month. Pupils observe and engage with animals while learning about the provenance of food and the importance of a balanced diet.

E-mail education@dumfries-house.org.uk to arrange visits.