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April 1988 Index

Bulletin Index Caithness Field Club

Caithness Field Club Bulletin
March 1990

Geoff Leet

Little boy blue, come blew up your horn, the sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn. Where's the little boy who looks after the sheep, he's under a haystack fast asleep!

Here we have unimproved mixed farming similar to pre-clearance Scotland. Hay provides winter feed, and all livestock has to be accompanied by a herd to protect the fields and, up to the 170o's, ward off wolves. Wire fences to contain the stock and to control breeding were unknown.

At Badryrie some of the fence posts are of slate pierced by small holes for the wire. The holes would not accept barbed wire so I presume that plain iron wire was used around 1850. Chicken wire would not have been known so in some pre-clearance Broubster dwellings the cavities built into the walls were probably for hens to roost, with a large cavity at floor level for the goose. But why "blue"?