by Malachy Tallack - Malachy recounts the challenges of getting all the Fair Isle sheep into one place for shearing. Military precision? Well almost!
From THE NEW STATESMEN
A military-style operation has been carried out in Fair Isle this week - albeit one in which quite a few of the participants had no idea of either the goal or the method.
Rounding up the sheep from the common grazing began with our orders, which we received at the start of the week: Meet on Wednesday morning at 8.30. And don't be late!
It is true that many of those who take part in this event (known as the caa) have never seen such a thing before, let alone been involved. They have come to the island as part of the work camps, or to stay at the bird observatory, and it must be daunting for them to find themselves caught in the middle of something so complicated, and so important. It probably doesn't help then that the morning does not begin with any kind of explanation or 'plan of action'. At 8.30, when everyone has gathered, islanders simply move off in various directions, some in vehicles, and some on foot. Everyone else just picks someone to follow.