Friday, January 14, 2011

An amusing story about dipping sheep

This story in full is in the New Zealand Freelance 31st January 1951 and is well worth reading. Entitled; 'Old Sheep are cunning' by "Wanderer". I'm sure some of you can relate to this story.

In England where flocks are small and labour more plentiful, each animal is gently lowered by careful hands, into a sort of bath, and no doubt a score of sheep is a mornings work. In New Zealand, where three or four men are expected to put through a couple of thousand before lunch, methods are rough and ready but we seldom lose a sheep.

When the boss can wait no longer, there is a walloping splash as the first sheep goes into "the drink," and a shudder goes through the thousands further back. That shudder has been known to break a set of rails and a lot of ribs at the same time. In early dawn, sheep always seem to run more freely to their fate, but the fact is that the youngest always goes first. All through the night, cunning five year olds have been working their way to the back of each filled yard, and experienced shepherds know that the easy start is short-lived.

As the Boss stabs with a long "crutch" to get every head submerged at least once, there is always the chance that he may fall in and a man who has to take his chance among a dozen swimming sheep needs to be rugged.

In Hawkes Bay they still talk about the day when a well-known pastoralist fell twice into the Te Aute station dip, and a daughter pushed his head under with a monchalant remark that it would 'freshen up his beard'.

We always maintain that it pays to mix ages when sheep have to be dipped. Young stuff will give the old ones a lead, we argue, and they do - but the old ones don't follow it.


  1. Thanks for the post, you can't hear these kinds of stories nowadays. Why did they have to dunk the sheep for?

  2. I'm not a farmer and can't comment with any authority but I think it was for external parasites which nowadays is done orally.

  3. I’ve nominated you for the Ancestor Approved Award. My blog post today will tell you a bit more about it:

    I’m looking forward to your on-going posts.


  4. Thank you Kerry that's awfully nice of you.

  5. I enjoy reading your blog and have nominated you for the Ancestor Approved Award.

    You can find out more about it here

    Ruth Blair