September 12, 2007

12 September 1807, by Elizabeth Macarthur

The Factory has looms and wheels to transform fleece to cloth.

There is no limit to the quantum of wool we can sell, if we can produce sufficient. No sheep have been slaughtered from this Farm for three years, and very few from our other places, even though a fair percentage of the stock is hairy rather than wool producing. It is amazing how the off-spring tend towards wool, as if the crosses to produce carcase were from wooly sheep. Our sheep have mainly come from our own breeding, which originated with the Bengal hairy sheep we bought from Madras, and the Cape fat-tails that came with the early fleets, and these were crossed with the Spanish sheep brought here from the Cape. None of those had fine wool, although the Cape Spanish were well-covered, and the fat-tails lent to wool more than hair. The true Merinos we have from the royal flock have only bred twice to the Bengals, yet the off-spring are fine wooled.
Our sheep are enclosed through the day and housed overnight - the dews in this country are beyond anything one imagines at Home. With the native dogs and the Colony's curs, I find the shepherds must keep their flock close or else lose some every night. The native grass is not productive, and Mr. Marsden has developed an improved pasture from a Yorkshire strain he brought here, and he has kindly shared those seeds with us, so that here on the main farm our grass is now partly clover and a mix of the Yorkshire type; the other farms remain unimproved except where they grow corn, rye or millet, and we only let the flock into those fields after harvest, to reduce the stubble and manure the ground.
My concern today is sheep, sheep and more sheep - I am certain I shall swiftly fall asleep, dreaming of course of sheep. Five lambs were lost in the top paddock, to some animal that came below the sheep fence during the night; perhaps din-go, or another of the native animals. That is not the first time that shepherd has been on duty and sheep lost, so he will be closely watched now. His wife is one of the best workers, and they have a cottage nearby, so I have asked John to talk to the fellow, and put his on his notice that any further preventable losses will see him off the farm.

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