Monday, 1 October 2012

sheep shearing

(Lois writes) Last week I spent a day with the Bakewell Age UK day centre, reminiscing and creating artwork with a group of men. It's a group formed by chance, by illhealth. They mix economic and social backgrounds; people born and breed in Bakewell with newcomers to the region from all over the country. They have retired from a range of jobs from an International Banker, to a maggot farmer, to a engineer for Rolls Royce.

Some are hard of hearing, many have dementia- but it all seems to work, the staff and volunteers have created such a warm and friendly atmosphere, that the older people using their services feel safe to chat, listen and join in with my reminiscence and creative activities. This was the first week with this particular group of men, so we chatted in general about their working lives. With two farmers at the table, much was talked about that part of rural life.

Sheep Shears, monoprint © Lois Blackburn 2012

'Got a job as soon as you could walk, all had to drive the tractors, girls and boys. The farm was at Wardlow, you didn’t get a lot of choice, it was decided for you that you would stay on the farm.

My favourite job was shearing, done only once a year. Take them down to the river at Ashford and throw them off the bridge there. A few days later sheered them with hand sheers, it was a skill. Wrapping had to be done in one piece, fold it in, keep it clean, start at the head, when you got to the tail end, wrapped it round with string and round. It had to be a good job or they would knock your money off, any string or bits and they would throw it out.  You washed the sheep to get the debris of, sticks, mud, left it a few days to let the grease come back making it easier to handle.' Stanley

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