Most crofters keep Blackface or North Country Cheviot sheep mainly for their wool. The wool cheque is usually the single most important source of income to the crofter. Shearing is done once a year around June to early July starting with the hoggs and ending up with the lambing ewes. Some shearers prefer to use a stool ; others shear the sheep on the ground. The sheep is turned on to its back and the shearer works down from the legs to the spine shearing close the skin, so that the shorn fleece remains in one piece. The fleece is then rolled up and bagged to be sold.
Sheep used to be sheared with hand shears, which are like large scissors. Nowadays most sheep are sheared with electric clippers. In New Zealand, Alan MacDonald and Keith Wilson machine sheared 2,220 sheep in 24 hours.
Click to enlarge the image, read the text then answer the following questions.
- Name two breeds of sheep kept by crofters?
- Why is the wool so important to the crofter?
- How many men/boys are working at the fank?
- What are the big sacks by the dyke for?