On the Isle of Berneray each island croft has a grazing allocation of both the machair and outlying islands. Exactly which islands you are allowed to utilise depends on the township within which your croft lies. Our croft at Sunhill is within Rushgarry township, therefore, our allocation of island grazing includes islands near Cheese Bay on the Southern side of the Sound of Harris. We take our sheep back and forth by boat - hence why, in addition to their Viking heritage, we like to call them "Seafaring Sheep". Each spring, our ewes and lambs are taken out for summer grazing with the ewes brought back for tupping in October and the remaining flock wintering on the islands. We have found that our Hebridean sheep really benefit from grazing on the diversity of island flora and, also, from eating seaweed from the shore. As a result, they fair very well and are in great condition as we regularly check on them throughout the winter and into spring.
A couple of weeks ago we took advantage of our family visitors and as the weather was good we headed off for a day of shearing on the islands.
As the flock has grown so has the team needed to gather and shear, it is always handy to have a couple of the bigger cousins around to help out. We now run a couple of boats with equipment and supplies to keep us going all day. It takes a big team effort and it is always a long hard day, but as we can only do it in good weather it is a great adventure and a lot of fun.
After a long but great day with all the shearing done, we loaded up and headed home. No rest though, after a quick fry up it was down to the hall for the ceilidh and dancing until 1 in the morning. Just as well we were allowed a lie in the next day!!