In the end, those glossy winter coats slipped from their backs like butter as the hum of the shears worked their magic.

The guttural bleating of the sheep, queuing up the ramp, waiting impatiently for their turn at the ‘pampering’ station. All squashing in, with not a bit of social distancing in sight – rather like the start of one of those’ cakewalk’ fairground rides.

The whistles of the Happy Farmer and his crew could be heard, as they encouraged, guided, and steered the flock, in the modern ways of this age-old routine. A dance which has spanned the generations of life on the farms across the islands.

From the days when the ‘old boys’ would gather at their stools, with sharpened hand clippers, back breaking work in the heat of the midday sun, as they clipped away. Many a tale being told in the process.

Today, the fleeces glide off, falling in a neat heap, ready to be rolled and packed into bags for the British Wool Marketing Board, or wherever, and transported off the island in a lorry. Wool ready to be treated before being spun into carpets.


Its a team effort to get the fleeces off

It's a team effort to get the fleeces off


With several false starts on the clipping front, a new summer dance routine had evolved between sheep and farmer at Persabus. Regular gatherings on an almost daily basis taking place at the fank in anticipation of the arrival of the clippers.

With a heavy mist clinging to the island each morning, proceedings were delayed and schedules postponed, as the clipping team did a sterling job working around the weather conditions to get the island’s sheep all shorn.

Under the circumstances, even the Happy Farmer was beginning to show signs of a slight twitchiness. You feel those tensions begin to rise, that anxious wait, the ‘tummy tickling’ build-up. The unwritten, unspoken bit of competition among the farming fraternity ... who will be first across the finishing line?

They wait at that starting line, poised, ready for action. And then that all-encompassing fear that the game will be a bogey.

Of course, those weather Gods have a lot of influence on the matter, and a lot to answer for, but once that sun shines her magic, and that burst of heat pounds the fields, the race is on.

The Happy Farmer, for his part, usually does have a more laid-back approach to it all. Knowing full well he won’t make a ‘first’ to that finishing line, rather like the ‘Hare and the tortoise’, the Happy Farmer ambles along, a cheery grin on that face, stopping for a ‘blether’ or two, knowing that just as the tortoise gently plodded over the finishing line, he too will get there ... eventually.

It became something of a morning drill then, for the Persabus girls. The Singing Shepherd could be heard whistling his way across the fields, sheepdog in tow.

A new summer exercise class for the sheep. Those Hebrideans, at the first sound of shepherd and dog, would be positively racing to form an orderly queue at the gate, ready for their time in the fank.


A Hebridean fleece being kept for home use after this years shearing

A Hebridean fleece being kept for home use after this year's shearing


Finally, after just a few attempts, those Sun Gods shone their magic and even the Happy Farmer could be seen getting into a bit of a faster pace.

It was lovely to see some of the younger clan hands-on as always. ‘Treading the boards’, as they have each year, from tiny youngsters to young adults, following in the age-old path, as traditions evolve and are passed from one generation down to the next.

For my part, it was a ‘no show’, leaving the young to take charge. The traditional roasts were replaced by huge trays of macaroni cheese and chips, whipped up by eldest – after her stint in the fank – who fed the assembled crew on benches outside the shed in the warm glow of the late evening sun. Covid rules still applying!

Those clippers did us proud, as did the young team. The ways of island life, farming life, may be changing and evolving but the strong sense of passion and community continues to grow in exciting new ways.

So, on the hottest of days, even those Persabus sheep could be seen by this time, following the Happy Farmer’s every move, looking almost ready to trot into the back of the Land Rover, for a bit of that gorgeous beach time as summertime has threatened to ‘swallow’ us up in a great big heady fizz of outdoor living.

It has reached that wheel spinning, tractor hopping, hay bobbing time of the year.

A huge burst of sunshine and the island is transformed. The bluest of skies and those turquoise seas shimmering, and who couldn’t resist a little dance from the farm to the shore? Sheep clipped meant that even the Happy Farmer could been prised away without too much of a backward glance.


After the shearing ... its beach time on a secret wee cove near to Persabus with fantastic views over to Jura

After the shearing ... it's beach time on a secret wee cove near to Persabus with fantastic views over to Jura


For me, once that pottery door has closed for the day, beach life has taken over. A time of gorgeous wild swims and delicious offerings from barbecues sizzling away in the enclaves of the rocks beside the shore.

Sandy feet, beachy hair and sun-kissed cheeks. What’s not to love?