Tuesday, 15 September 2009

I Remember The Clipping.


This week my post for I Remember Whensday is about the above photograph, again a scanned slide, and it must have been taken in the early '60s.

This shows my father and younger brother, Jack, clipping (shearing) Blackface sheep in, probably, July. We didn't have a huge flock of sheep as dad didn't like to have all his farming eggs in one basket! We had a dairy, milking , at that time, about 40 cows, (later my elder brother increased this greatly), a good few acres crop and a flock of sheep grazing the hill ground...truly a mixed farm. The number of sheep didn't justify bringing in a team of shearers so dad and my brothers did the clipping themselves.

The weather was all important for this task as the fleeces had to be dry for this.

Here they are using clippers powered by the tractor, which was deemed a big step forward from the old hand shears and clipping on top of a tarpaulin to keep the fleeces as clean as possible. I often had the job of rolling and tying the fleeces before they were packed into huge sacks to be collected later. I remember that the Blackface fleeces had to be rolled outside in and some others were rolled right way out.

Once I had invited a town friend to stay at the farm during the clipping and she had never witnessed this, ever. One of the men "nicked" a sheep's skin with the shears and of course it bled. The culprit worker called for the Terebine Balsam (I think that's how it was spelt), which was a strong antiseptic used for such injuries, and poured some over the wound. It also kept the blueflies away from the open cut. My friend read the bottle label and said, aghast,, "It says to apply neat but he just poured it over it's skin!"

After every sheep was shorn they were taken to a neighbouring farm to be dipped to prevent the occurrence of maggots and ticks etc. All able bodied people about the place were called on to assist in the herding of the sheep the mile to the dipper. We had to stand in gateways and tracks to keep the flock on the correct route. As a child I had the job of counting the sheep as they went in to the dipper but sometimes I thought I had missed one and counted it (again) as it came out. Father was never convinced I'd got it right and ended up counting them by himself in the pen. After the sheep were finished the collies were put in the dipper for their annual cleanse.

This is one of my memories of yesteryear. To see others why not look here.

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7 comments:

Gaelyn said...

This is a wonderful story and memory. I had to chuckle about the counting of sheep. Does the raw fleece have a distinct smell and feel?

Janie said...

You grew up in an interesting lifestyle, with the family farm, and many aspects of farming, too. Your dad was smart not to count on just one source of income.

Ruth said...

What an interesting post! My grandparents had sheep during the war and it was their main source of meat in those year. I do not like lamb, but love wool. Those were quite the shearers, powered by the tractor.

kden said...

Great history of your family farm. Shears run from the power of the tractor ;-) Wonderful shot and story.

Pat said...

What a fascinating education that was for you, growing up on a farm! I learned some new things about sheep-shearing. I greatly admire farmers for their work ethic and integrity...They are the salt of the earth.

Pyatshaw said...

After a day among the sheep and/or fleeces your clothes are all greasy as well as your hands and it does have a certain, unmistakable sheepy smell. It's the lanolin in the wool.

Hildred and Charles said...

A great post.

I remember those shearing days well, - we had up to four hundred sheep, so it was a big production, and my job was tying the fleeces. I was also spinning in those days, so was quite crafty about putting the best fleeces aside for my own use....

It was a rather smelly part of farming, wasn't it!