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TITLE
Working with sheep on the Island of Rona
EXTERNAL ID
PC_JMACKENZIE_009
PLACENAME
Island of Rona
DISTRICT
Skye
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Portree
CREATOR
Julia Mackenzie
SOURCE
Julia Mackenzie
ASSET ID
28854
KEYWORDS
Hebrides
Hebridean
islanders
islands
crofting
crofter
crofters
croft
crofts
sheep
shearing
fleece
fleeces
smearing
cleansing
pest protection
pest control
Working with sheep on the Island of Rona

This photograph was taken on the Island of Rona which lies off the north end of Raasay in the Inner Hebrides. It was provided by Julia Mackenzie and shows herself, her brother and a friend with some of their sheep gathered in a pen.

Julia Mackenzie was born on Eilean Tighe (Island of the House) in 1923 and later moved to the larger island of Rona. In the late 1990s she revisited Eilean Tighe which is now deserted. This visit prompted her to write a book about her childhood memories of island life. In 'Whirligig beetles and tackety boots' she describes one of the crofter's tasks:

'Sheep tarring night was a great occasion. During the day, the menfolk, joined by men from the neighbouring Isle of Fladda, also from Arnish and Torran, would roam the Island to bring the sheep into the pen. Some would be housed in the peat shed at the end of the house; the living room was the tarring room.

Just picture the scene. The room would have beren cleared of the usual furniture to make room for the 'smearing stools' - 'smearing' was what the tarring was called. The tarring stool was a long wooden slatted contraption tapered at one end, long enough to lay a sheep on it. The man sat astride at the broader end with the sheep laid out in front and a bucket of tar on the floor beside them. He would part the coat or fleece in sections and smear dollops of tar on by hand. This was done all over the fleece. You can imagine the smell of sheep and tar that pervaded the house then, and for days afterwards, but somehow we didn't seem to notice it; it was part of living. Maybe the reader can now appreciate why there was no floor covering.'

'Whirligig beetles and tackety boots' is available for purchase from Blythswood Bookshops. All proceeds go towards the work of Blythswood Care

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Working with sheep on the Island of Rona

INVERNESS: Portree

Hebrides; Hebridean; islanders; islands; crofting; crofter; crofters; croft; crofts; sheep; shearing; fleece; fleeces; smearing; cleansing; pest protection; pest control

Julia Mackenzie

This photograph was taken on the Island of Rona which lies off the north end of Raasay in the Inner Hebrides. It was provided by Julia Mackenzie and shows herself, her brother and a friend with some of their sheep gathered in a pen.<br /> <br /> Julia Mackenzie was born on Eilean Tighe (Island of the House) in 1923 and later moved to the larger island of Rona. In the late 1990s she revisited Eilean Tighe which is now deserted. This visit prompted her to write a book about her childhood memories of island life. In 'Whirligig beetles and tackety boots' she describes one of the crofter's tasks: <br /> <br /> 'Sheep tarring night was a great occasion. During the day, the menfolk, joined by men from the neighbouring Isle of Fladda, also from Arnish and Torran, would roam the Island to bring the sheep into the pen. Some would be housed in the peat shed at the end of the house; the living room was the tarring room.<br /> <br /> Just picture the scene. The room would have beren cleared of the usual furniture to make room for the 'smearing stools' - 'smearing' was what the tarring was called. The tarring stool was a long wooden slatted contraption tapered at one end, long enough to lay a sheep on it. The man sat astride at the broader end with the sheep laid out in front and a bucket of tar on the floor beside them. He would part the coat or fleece in sections and smear dollops of tar on by hand. This was done all over the fleece. You can imagine the smell of sheep and tar that pervaded the house then, and for days afterwards, but somehow we didn't seem to notice it; it was part of living. Maybe the reader can now appreciate why there was no floor covering.'<br /> <br /> 'Whirligig beetles and tackety boots' is available for purchase from Blythswood Bookshops. All proceeds go towards the work of Blythswood Care