Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sheep Shearing at Ousdale. Article VII, 06/11/1879 - Rambling Recollections of Berriedale Badbea and Neighbourhood – Part B

Article VII written by Alexander Gunn aka A Native of Badbea was printed in the Northern Ensign on 6 November 1879. Part B

Sheep Shearing in Ousdale about 1840

6 11 1879 NE (Article VII) part b & c "For a few weeks in the beginning of summer there used to be no small stir at Ousdale, which was the principal place for shearing the sheep for the whole estate. Many an early rising have we had on such occasions. Should the weather be favourable, a start was made by 3 a.m., and work was continued till 9 or even 10 o’clock at night, as hard as we could ply, and we were paid for this long day’s work one shilling, and our victuals, which were given us to keep us from going home, which would have been loss of time which could hardly be afforded. I have seen men employed in different kinds of work, all over Scotland, but never saw people pushed so hard as at Ousdale, while the enormous sum of one shilling per day was the remuneration given for such hard work."

shearing Journal Agriculture 1831 copy shearing 1832_0001 copy

Sheep shearing.
Journal of Agriculture 1831
Hand held shears

041 Sheep shearing Harris Ch 11
A stone or wooden stool against a fank was often used for the shearer to sit on and sit the sheep on. He would put a fleece on the stool to sit on.

Sometimes the sheep would be tied up and shorn on the ground
A Wheatear, keeping an eye on things from a convenient molehill
A Wheatear keeping an eye on things from a convenient molehill.
A shepherds crook at the Newtonmore Outdoor Museum.

Sheep and cattle grazing on Ousdale
"There are few places that could be cultivated with the same ease as Ousdale. There is a considerable extent of arable land on it, and of the very best quality, and hundreds of acres could be added, at no great expense, simply by ploughing up the hill sides, covered to some extent by brackens , and in other cases with rushes. There were mole-hills a foot high, a sure indication of rich soil. In the district of Ousdale there could be a dozen thriving farms, of considerable size, with very little outlay, and a very large stock of black cattle and sheep could be grazed on the hills were tillage was impracticable. The people would have an abundance of peats for their households, and from their proximity to the turnpike road, they would possess every facility in sending their produce o the markets, especially with the railway now at Helmsdale, only a few miles distant. I do not know a more suitable or better place for farming in all the range of the country, and as regards the return to the landlord, it would be double what he takes out of it at present. What a pity but some great land-improver like the Duke of Sutherland had been the proprietor! What a fine chance he would have of making his name to be known and revered. There is a mine of wealth lying buried in the district, which could be worked profitably and at little outlay – where also a thriving and happy population could be reared, and the food resources of the country increased very materially."
1879, 17 July NE Original 1 copy B

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