Sheep Farming Glossary

The farm house is behind the pine trees close to the road. The ewe lambs have already been crutched and drenched. The woolshed and tractor shed down below and two cuttings can be seen across on the hillside on the neighbour's property

A passage from 'A Many Coated Man' by Owen Marshall  (Dunedin: Logacre Press, 1995.) 

"There's a place, not far, sweet country if only it had summer rain.  The sheep seek shade, and these camps the loess clay of the ground is smooth and hard, or pooled to dust, and the droppings of the sheep are thickly spread, but dry and inoffensive, baked in the heat.  In the odd sink hole briar seeks moisture and gorse blooms brighter than clay.  The ridges are worn almost bald, like heads of the lean, brown farmers who ride farm bikes too small for them across the paddocks of their land.  The creek beds are marked more by rushes and willows than running water, and the mallards come only in twos or threes.  An easterly is always up after midday and burnishes the arc of pale, blue sky.  The shelter belts close to the road and the macrocarpa before the farmhouse, are dusted with a false pollen drifting in off the road.  The rural delivery boxes are large so that stores can be left there as well as mail, and each name painted by hand.  In the evenings the sheep come to the stock dams and troughs to drink, the magpies gather to imitate the noise of poets, and barley grass and brown-top ripple at the sides of the shingle roads.  Is that so far away?"

Mr Marshall, a short story writer, was made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit in the Queen's 2000 New Year honours, for services to literature.  Born in Te Kuiti, educated at Timaru Boys HS School and the University of Canterbury, from which he graduated in 1964 with a Master of Arts (honours) he has combined writing with a teaching career.  He has been deputy and acting rector of Waitaki Boys HS in Oamaru, 1983-83 and deputy principal of Craighead Diocesan School, 1986-91 and in 2002 and on taught a 20-week fiction writing course at Aoraki Polytechnic, Timaru.


On Les' route. He told me where to find this box.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project

This is a page I, Olwyn, a Kiwi in TX, now townie, put together for fun to help anyone unfamiliar with sheep farming terminology.  Don't rely on this info and obtain appropriate professional advice when necessary. Links provided to other internet sites are provided for the user's convenience and do not constitute endorsement of the information at those sites. How well did I do? Please let me know what needs to be corrected. Additions welcome! Enjoy.

Back blocks: The country beyond the river gorges. Front blocks are the lower country.  

Beat - a lambing beat or a musterer's beat - a route.

Black country - dead tussock due to severe winter.
Ashburton Guardian, 5 September 1908, Page 1
The latest news from the Mackenzie country is to the effect that the snow (now almost ice) is slowly melting. From Burkes Pass to Tekapo there is still over four inches of snow on the road, and its slipperiness makes travelling slow. There is a good deal of "black country" on the sunny faces of the lower spurs. No definite estimate can yet be made of the loss of sheep.

TH 13 September 1895, Page 3
The Glentanner rabbiters were camped at the old station on black ground, and that the poisoning had hardly been stopped on that station during the winter. Mr Hope. The rabbiters had had a very rough time of it. They were camped half-way between the old station and the homestead, and they were able to get to the homestead with some difficulty. I am, etc., Duncan Munro. Braemar, Tekapo.

Brand: The letter or other mark which each owner has to identify his own stock. (1) It is stamped on to sheep with paint applied with a branding iron or brand, and (2) on to cattle and horses with a red-hot iron which leaves a mark on the skin. Hence branding race, a narrow race for branding sheep, and brander, the man whose work it is to brand.  -Ref.: The Early Canterbury Runs by Acland.

Farmers were required to register earmarks to aid in identification of ownership of livestock. About twenty years ago the law changed, no longer necessary.  Years ago the Department of Agriculture was responsible for registering brands and earmarks for sheep and cattle. There would have been a Registrar of Brands within that department. A farmer commencing farming in a particular area had to ascertain the brands of his neighbours. He may have continued with the mark of a previous owner or could suggest his own. There were a number of approved patterns, but a farmer could suggest a pattern, particularly for brands. Earmarks tended to be a bit more limited in variety as earmarking pliers were a precision instrument. Earmarks and brands had to be distinct from others in the immediate area and  of a pattern that could not be changed by a fraudulent neighbour or near neighbour.  Earmarks were usually applied at an early age - at docking (tailing) at about two to three weeks in the case of lambs, and reasonably early in life in the case of cattle. Earmarks for both cattle and sheep were arranged differently for male and female animals, usually as a mirror image. Animals, particularly sheep, could be sorted by sex as they ran through a drafting race, just by looking at the ears of the advancing animal. Sheep were branded, usually just after shearing, with a tar-like paint. This would last for months, the pattern appearing on the outside of the fleece as the wool as grew. Cattle were branded with a fire brand.
    Run's and station's bales of wool would be branded using black brick substance mixed with water by using a stencil with the station's name. Record of historic brands/earmarks should be in the archived records. Where? If the property that your relative had is still being farmed there is a slight possibility that the present owners could using the original brand and earmark - or a family member farming somewhere else in NZ is using them.

An old ewe with twins on kale. Twin lambs born 21 July 2008, Lyalldale, South Canterbury.Boundary keeper hut: In the days of the stations before there were fences and before closer settlement a shepherd  would watch the unfenced boundary from a place up high or would walk the line a couple times a day. Their only company would be their dog and horse. Some men enjoyed this lonely life in the woop woops. The stone huts were often located in isolated valleys on a sunny river terrace, maybe with some gooseberry bushes, raspberry canes or willows nearby miles from the homestead. Some of the huts stone had a stone lean to attached, a wee woolshed, where the shepherd would shear the stragglers, the long fleecers. These sheep had to be shorn as the sheep couldn't successfully wade the river due to the weight of their wool. To keep the roof on some had boulders suspended from the rafters by no. 8 fencing wire. Keas played havoc on the corrugated iron roofs.  An iron communal bed would be filled with tussock. Probably only the boulder foundations of many remain due to fire, snow, wind and safety! The hut names had a poetic lilt. The Devil's Den, on 'Stoneleigh', Ashwick Flat, corrugated iron roof caved in during a heavy snow so a farmer down the gorge decided the hut was unsafe and demolished it!   Later huts were situated near boundary fences. An article in 'Historic Places' No 82. August 2001 features the stone huts on Blue Mountain. An account of their lonely lives can be found in .Robert Booth's book Five Years in New Zealand, 1859 to 1864 London : J. G. Hammond, 1912. 111 p. illus.  Experiences on sheep runs in Nelson and Canterbury, the Otago gold diggings, with recollections of Samuel Butler. 

Otago Witness, 30 November 1899, Page 63
THE BOUNDARY RIDER, OTAGO CENTRAL.

Out in the saddle, alone,
Alone in a desert drear,
The wailing bleat of the sheep
Plaintively reaches my ear.

Nothing but hills all around,
Sierras with summits of snow,
Speargrass, tussock, and swamp,
And a barbed-wire fence or so.

A hawk soars far up above,
Below is a blue lagoon,
Black clouds keep piling up
For the snowstorm, coming soon.

My horse goes ambling along,
I'll light up the fragrant weed,
Then let it blow warm � or freeze:
A pipeful is bliss indeed!

And I think of the days long past,
Of the years and the loves now fled,
Of my boyhood's early friends,
Of the living and the dead.

I think of the smiling south,
With its fields of golden sheaves,
Its sombre pines, its airy ferns,
Its flax with graceful leaves.

But the snowflakes drifting past
Are tinting the landscape white,
Reality sternly chides
From my thoughts all visions bright,

Ah ! there is the boundary hut,
I don't feel now so chilly �
"Come, pile on the scrub, old man,
And sling on the old black billy!"

�LITTLE JIMMY (Mr J. McLauchlan). Southland, November 1899.

Broom: A weed. Up to 2 m high. Twigs green with yellow pea sized flowers. This plant is prohibited from propagation, sale and distribution!

Brown top: poor pasture grass. Agrostis capillaris.

"To take the burnt chops": To take on the work of a musterer. A breakfast on a run may have included porridge topped with cream from the house cow, mutton chops, sausages, fried eggs and tomatoes, toast with jam and a hot cup of tea.

Captain Cookers: In the 1860s there was a bounty paid by the station owners for the destruction of wild pig, and the tally of the slain was taken not per head but per tail. Sixpence to tenpence. 

Cast: A ewe can get cast on her back and will need help to get back on her feet. Doesn't need to be all that woolly, near-lambing fat, or just plain fat can cause them to become cast, usually die if not found soon, particularly if they are in-lamb [ in an hour.]

Break: Let the hoggets onto the break, on to the swedes and chou. A temporary portable fence, now days electric, that is moved usually daily to let sheep on to winter fodder.   

Swedes in April 2014. Autumn.Chou: It is kale behind the old ewe and her twin lambs born during the night. Chou seems to be the preserve of dairy cattle as it is a bigger taller plant, in many cases too tall for sheep.  Swedes fare better in snow than brassicas such as kale. Much of the energy survives in the swede bulb, whereas with kale, it is in the stem. The kale is planted every year for the ewe hoggets but shorn 2 tooths and some old ewes, are currently grazing it here in mid July 2008 just south of Timaru. Kale is a fodder crop. Every morning, dressed for winter, you go out on the four wheeler with your sheep dogs riding on the back and move the break, the electric fence, back about 20 feet and let the hoggets or old ewes on and maybe over night the first twin lambs of the season will be born and surprise you, a bit early. They get real muddy.  By mid afternoon the farmer goes out again to  take the sheep off the kale, off the break.

Colonial Goose: A leg of mutton boned and stuffed with a bread dressing of sage and onions and the flap is then rolled up and secured with a string. Dredge with flour, roast on high 415F for 15 minutes then turn down to 325F - done when meat thermometer reads about 145�F (medium rare). Do not over cook. Served with gravy, roast vegetables and mint sauce which takes five minutes to prepare. Boil a cup of water with a tablespoon of sugar in microwave. Cool. Go outside and pick a handful of mint. Rinse. Pluck off the leaves and place on chopping board.  Sprinkle with sugar, chop finely. Place in small serving jug and add 1/3 cup of malt vinegar, 2/3 cup of the sugar water.  Place in fridge until needed. Slice thinly and served cold at lunch time the next day with a lettuce salad. 'You have only to mention 'colonial goose' to make one homesick.'

For Sunday's dinner I can boast
I have a leg of mutton roast;
On Monday, if the truth be told,
I eat it with some pickles cold.
On Tuesday I some slices fry;
On Wednesday I make a pie;
On Thursday I to cut a dash,
Make of it a savoury hash;
And that my joint may longer last,
On Friday I proclaim a fast.
On Saturday it's got so narrow
I crack the bone and eat the marrow
Quoted in Economic Technical Cookery Book by Mrs EB Miller

Swede seedsCoo-ee! (koo-e) is a shout used in the wopwops mainly to attract attention, or indicate one's own location e.g. musterers. When done loudly and shrilly - a call of "coo-ee" can carry over a considerable distance. 'Not within coo-ee' means nowhere near.  'A hotel within coo-ee'- means near.

Corriedale - Canterbury bred. .A dual-purpose breed, with equal emphasis on meat and wool. A flock was founded by Mr. W.S. Davidson on the NZ and Australian land Co.'s Levels Estate in 1874. One thousand Merino ewes were put to Lincoln rams and out of the produce of these ewes 150 half bred ewes were selected for mating with rams, also out of the same ewes.

Otago Witness, 18 May 1899, Page 6
In the beginning New Zealand was stocked with merino sheep from Australia and various British breeds from the Old Country and Australia, and these were intercrossed in almost every way. The term Corriedale is a sheep resulting from the fourth cross of halfbred Lincoln-merino rams and ewes. That is to say, the foundation ewes are merino, and the rams Lincoln. The progeny of them are halfbred. These in turn are bred, halfbreds to halfbreds for four generations, and a Corriedale is the result. To James Little, of Allandale, Waikari, belongs the honour of giving sheep bred on the lines indicated the distinctive name of Corriedales. The halfbred ewe may be said to be the mother of the frozen meat industry. She carries a profitable fleece, is a good mother, is not hard to keep, has a pleasing appearance, and when her breeding career is ended makes a good butcher's sheep. There is no need to dilate on the good qualities of her brothers and sisters, the halfbred wether and maiden ewe, they produce wool in abundance, and make ideal freezers. Wool as well as mutton must be kept going. Corriedales will help in the accomplishment of that object, the aim of their breeders being to produce a sheep carrying a maximum of payable wool and a carcass of "prime Canterbury. "

Otago Witness, 9 January 1907, Page 6
Meantime � or perhaps contemporaneous � Mr C. N. Orbell, manager of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company's Levels station in South Canterbury, had built up a flock of these inbred halfbreds on the same lines as adopted by Mr Little, both Lincoln sires and merino dams being selected from the company's stud flocks, which were of the highest standing. Visitors to the Timaru show year after year have admired the results

Cutting: A track up the side of any sort of hill made by a bulldozer. 

Dags: Clumps of dried sheep manure in matted wool hanging on to the rear end of a sheep.  Tailing and crutching helps with flystrike prevention. Green dags are those that are still soft or moist. Sometimes farmers take a pair of hand shears and does some dagging in the paddock. A wool buyer comes around to the farm and buys the dags. There are sent to a factory to be crushed.  Dags rattle when a sheep runs. "Rattle your dags" means hurry up.  "A real dag" is a "hard case",  a character. "A bit of a dag."

Double fleecer: More than one season of growth. Triple fleecer. Missed during mustering. A staple - a fibre of wool,  usually four inches long but I have seen them up to eighteen long from the back blocks. The sheep had been out the back of the Two Thumb Range for about five years.

Dipping: Sheep are drenched and dipped to protect them against pests and illness. Drenching at weaning at and at regular intervals thereafter can prevent some worm parasites but the parasites, mostly worms, are becoming resistant to the drench. Dipping is done after shearing by pour-on, swim, shower or spray on treatment to control lice and flystrike outbreaks. Lousy sheep don't do well. 

A Romney hogget.Drafting race: In the sheep yards a race only wide enough to let the sheep though one at a time. The farmer operates the drafting gate to sort the sheep into different pens and to count them e.g. hoggets and wethers culled out by the fat lamb buyer by marking the wool with a spot of rattle to be loaded on to a truck for the freezing works.

Drench: Drenching - dosing sheep with liquid medience.

Dry sheep: A sheep that has not been served by a ram. No milk. Dry sheep can be wintered on the high country.  Today many farmers have their ewes run through a scanner so the dry sheep can be culled out and sent to the works. If dry sheep are left on the main mob during lambing they can cause problems by taking another ewe's lamb.  Scanning only took off in the mid 1990s. It allows farmers to identify which ewes aren't carrying and which are carrying one, two or three lambs. Once that is established the barren ewes can be got rid of, while the ewes with one are separated from those carrying two or three lambs. This allows the farmers to budget feed to the ewes which need it most and that ensures higher birth rates and much healthier lambs. Identifying barren ewes and poor performers would allow the genetic pool to be strengthened.

GorseGorse: A very common spiny shrub that grows about 2m high densely branched with pea size yellow flowers and is costly and difficult to eradicate so marginal pasture land is reverting to gorse. A weed.

Fallow acres: Left untilled for a season

Flock: All the sheep on the property.
Mob: A flock of sheep. Sheep of the same breed that have run together.

Flood gate: At boundary fences that cross creeks floodgates let the water through and are meant to stop livestock.

Footrot: An inflammatory bacterial disease causing separation of the soft horn and lameness. Treatment is to pare the diseased hoof and run the sheep through a 10% formalin solution or 'blue stone" or other chemical bath in a foot rot  (foot bath) trough in the sheep yards. Treat and isolate all affected sheep or send to 'works'.. Merino's seem to be more susceptible than other breeds.

Freehold: To make freehold, to buy freehold of run country. The past tense is freeholded. "Dad freeholded "Ribbonwood,  a run on Sherwood Downs"

Freezing Works: Smithfield and Pareora. The 'Works.'  The carriers come with their three or four decker trucks for sheep or double decker trucks for cattle.

Going down country:  Hoggets were sometimes wintered down country. 

Gumboots and mud outside the tractor shed.Gumboots: A favorite footwear item in New Zealand made of rubberized fabric, is waterproof, reaching to just below the knees, and traditionally comes in farmer black or freezing worker white. Townies should bring a pair of gumboots if going to visit a farmer.  "Gumboots they are wonderful, gumboots they are swell; 'cause they keep out the water and they keep in the smell...:"sang Fred Dagg. Nothing beats a pair of good gumboots and rugby socks.  First made at the Skellerup, then called Marathon Rubber Factory Ltd, Woolston, CHCH in 1943. "It's Redbands. Gumboots. The gumboots the proper farmers wear. Then there's the truck - it'll be something with four-wheel drive, usually a Toyota Hilux ute.  "

Gummy: An old sheep that has lost its teeth

Hectare: 1 hectare is just under 2� acres (2.47 acres per hectare). 10 acres are about 4 hectares. 
Convert hectares to acres, simply multiply the hectares by 2.471
To convert from acres to hectares, simply multiply the acres by 0.4

Halfbred
: A dual purpose breed with emphasis on wool production, developed by crossbreeding the Merino with one or other of the strong wool breeds.

Otago Witness 12 August 1865 pg 14 - Sheep dogs.
Will work widely or closely, at hand or miles distant; stand at a moment's notice; bring sheep to or send them from you, quickly or slowly, slightly, or with voice at bidding; and perform evoltions. "Get awy forrit" ...

Footrot Flats

A pup, Mae, will be a huntawy, in a field of white clover.When does a lamb become a hogget?

Hogget: When a lamb is weaned off its mother it is called a hogget. By sixteen months it should have two teeth then called two-tooths. They grow two teeth each year. When a sheep is fully grown has eight teeth. A sheep lives about seven years. You can have a paddock of ram hoggets or ewe hoggets or mixed hoggets.

Homestead block: Where you find the station house, outbuildings, woolshed and sheep and cattle yards. 

Hydatids: Best treatment is prevention. If dogs ate raw sheep offal they could contract hydatids. Dosing dogs is no longer required in NZ.  Vets send out pills to farmers for prophylactic treatment every three months. 

Kea: A large very inquisitive green native parrot with orange feathers under the wings and found today in the South Island high country. Can be cheeky and destructive. The kea use their beak as a tool to dig up roots and manipulate plant material into an edible format. Damage to property is caused by groups of young kea experimenting how to use their beaks. Use to attack sheep killing them by making a 1 - 2" hole above the kidney, they were after the fat, then would puncture the kidney.  There was a bounty sponsored by the farmers, local county councils and Government. In the 1910 beaks were worth 2 shillings and sixpence each.  At least 150,000 keas were killed before the bird gained full protection in 1986.  Only about 3,000 remain.  My mother remembers eight rams where killed one afternoon by keas in the 1950s on our place along the Two Thumb Range while my father was away shooting keas a few miles away on his father's run.  

Timaru Herald Saturday 4 November 1899  pg 2
A musterer from Hakataramea wrote "I may say that I have seen the kea actually tackle live sheep often. On one occasion whilst mustering on Longslip station, Upper Waitaki, my fellow musters and I saw a small flock of keas attack a merino wether, one of a mob caught at the camp for mutton purposes. The lead had opened the loins and extracted all the kidney fat, and the animals paunch was visible through the opening. The wether still kept its feet. Of course it was killed afterwards. Confirmation of this I can furnish from at least 10 others, who witnessed the occurrence.

In the midst, iridescent and glowing,
Full-breasted, bead-eyed,
Bright as the Argus showing,
Not knowing its pride.


Johannes C. Anderson

Killer: A sheep reserved for killing and eating on a sheep station.

It is not unewesual or a twin to become mismothered so branding is necessary.  Twin lamb with rattle on rump. His twin will have the same marking.Lambing: A lambing BEAT is going around ewes, looking more for stuck/mismothered lambs than bearings persay.  The trend with the 'modern' sheep is to try and lower the shepherding required.  Many farmers now do minimal shepherding, if at all, and the sheep are managing very well!  Twins and triplets are also marked with a aerosol spray coloured rattle, helps with mothering. Each set gets a different marking so the farmer can match any miss matched lambs. Spot on the head, or on the side, etc. Mother up ewes and lambs; mismatched lamb rubbed with the dead lamb, to make it smell like her own, a stubborn the ewe is sometimes tired to the fence by a leg to stop her from running away, and the lamb made to drink.

Mackenzie Country: Once you reach the top of Burke's Pass, at 2500' above sea level, you are in the Mackenzie. The scenery totally changes to rugged tussock terrain and spectacular scenery. Lake Tekapo soon comes into view.  James McKenzie 1820 -1858 a sheep stealer owned a dog named Friday who drove approximately one thousand sheep towards a pass in 1855 from 'a station in front',  The Levels. Mackenzie County and Mackenzie Pass are named after him even though it is spelt differently. 

Macrocarpa hedge: Makes a good shelter belt around a homestead. Contractors with tractor pulled hedge trimmers are kept busy trimming marcocarpa and gorse hedges throughout South Canterbury. 

Married couple: Some of the larger farms would take on a married couple and they would live in a cottage on a place. Would help with fencing, tractor work, even managing the place. The wife would be the station cook, cooking for the shearers, fencers etc.

MatagouriMatagouri: the flowers are tiny and white with no petals, in the background, it is most common in tussock grassland, stony areas and river beds Canterbury. Also called Wild Irishman. A brown thorny shrub. Scratches. A native plant. Grows in open country in thickets in the South Island.

Mob: Large flock of sheep.

Muster: Getting up real early in the morning and being dropped off high in the hills with your dogs and heading down hill, walking, gathering all the sheep into a mob and bringing them down to the holding paddocks on the flat near the sheep yards and homestead. Often too steep for horses. Someone takes the top beat with their dogs and mustering stick. An autumn muster is  done before weaning. A muster can be done at weaning and or shearing time. Fog, fording rivers, real steep spurs on the ridges, treacherous steep sheep tracks are real hazards. Scratch muster - go back out and find the stragglers.  Farmers with their own airstrip sometimes use aircraft to spot mobs of sheep and drop fencing supplies out on the hills. A straggler muster. Glentanner

It was a great sight to see seven musterers with pack horses and seventy dogs, ten dogs each, leave to muster Clayton.  The dogs never fought. The men would stay in the huts out the back and kill a wether for 'dog tucker'.  The dogs paws would get cut up on the scree so would make only a run or two.

"Ninety-nine": In the days of blade shearing it was real quiet in a woolshed and the shearers would tell 'stories'.  So if a women walked into a woolshed someone would shout out "ninety-nine."  Meaning a women on the board.

Sunset up the Te Moana Rd with a cabbage tree on the lawn.Nor'wester: A strong hot wind at times a gale in the early part of the summer. Can be mild. From due north to the west. A strong southerly buster comes from the south west laid in thick with rain or hail over 2-3 days. Fohn winds. Sometimes there's nothing that can match the sheer beauty of a setting sun on the clouds in South Canterbury.

Timaru Herald 29/08/2009 Timaru is the centre with the most variable weather in Canterbury this October. The winds that have battered the region of late are only a mild indication of what lies in wait for us, the MetService says. Wind gusts of up to 70kmh tore through the district yesterday, whipping sand from the bay, sparking a minor rubbish fire and making life outdoors treacherous for anyone with a toupee. The nor-wester brought with it a 23 degrees Celsius high, though that is expected to fall to 16C today. An unusually active front moving onto the country, which is set to hit tomorrow. It is predicted to deliver heavy rain to the western areas of the South Island and a strong nor-wester over much of the country. It may deliver wind gusts to 140kmh in many eastern and central districts and rainfalls reaching 200mm in the Southern Alps. Severe gale-force winds could damage trees and power lines, and make driving dangerous for motorcyclists and truck driver. Closer to the mountains the weather changes are even more dramatic.

The nor-wester was warm, the sou-wester cold and the nor-easterly was mild.

"First from the south west blows a piecer
Then a nor'wester blows in fiercer"

"The Nor'-Wester," by the late Mrs. F. M. Renner, nee Craig

Then I spring up the slopes of the Alps, but recoil at the touch of their snow,
And wrap myself round in cloud; and my angry eyes, aglow,
Shoot forth the zig-zag lightning; my thunder shakes the air,
And I scatter the great drops thick and fast from off my sea-wet hair.
But never a whit can the Alps stop me,
I leave them soon behind,
And revel and dance in maddest glee,
A riotous Nor'-West wind !

My warm breath frees the waters, and makes the snow flowers die,
And the sides of the Alps are torn as the torrents hurry by;
There's a fresh in the Waimakariri, a flood in the turbid Grey ;
Each swollen river is rushing, o'erwhelming all in its way.
And this is my work that none can withstand,
Nor any power can bind ;
And I dance and revel throughout the land,
A riotous Nor'-West wind !

Nor' west Arch 1st Sept. 2009 over Four Peaks, Geraldine.Nor' west arch

The hot, dry north-west wind that blows across the Canterbury Plains can send temperatures soaring in South Canterbury.  It is accompanied by a distinctive cloud formation known as the nor�west arch. It is shown in an apparent arch of high white cloud in an otherwise clear blue sky over the Southern Alps, and is accompanied by a strong hot northwesterly wind simply known as The Nor'wester. Nor'westers caused by cold fronts will often change within a day or two to a cool southerly wind accompanied by rain showers, as the front passes through.

NZ traffic-jam:  Farmers have a right to drove stock on public roads. Stock can be unpredictable and often dogs will be running around the fringes keeping stock together.  If there is room to pass safely, it is recommended to drop down into first or second gear, move as far over to the side of the road as possible and drive cautiously past, being prepared to stop suddenly. Most accidents can be avoided. Farmers are allowed to graze on road margins if they have a permit which includes the use of temporary fencing.

Number eight: Fencing wire. Sheep farmers always had number eight fencing wire lying around. You could fix anything with that. it was the duct tape of the olden days. It's the number  wire mentality. The solitary inventor.

Paddock
: Large fenced fields on flat country. e.g. hogget paddock, the bull paddock, the ram paddock, the homestead paddock. Then higher up you have the large fenced hill blocks

Parries: The native paradise ducks are plentiful in South Canterbury.  The male is mostly dark greenish black with a few orange tertial feathers.  The female is easily identified with it white head and chestnut body. The nest is well hidden in the vegetation on the ground or They nest up in trees and the ducklings have to jump down to get into the water. They fly in pairs, mate for life, and have an unique noisy call. Males honk and females 'zeek zeek'  If you get close to a nest or the ducklings the duck will fly off in the opposite direction and land nearby then pretend she has a broken wing. 

Pastoral lease: Leasehold. The Land Act of 1892 provided that, unless under special circumstances, no run shall be of greater extent than would carry 20,000 sheep. The Government was anxious to place settlers for closer settlement. Some settlements were badly subdivided into too smaller units making it impossible to make a living, others had poor access, rentals too high and the Government did not take into consideration the winter conditions. Land ballots were held and the lucky cocky received a renewable crown pastoral lease land on a thirty-three year term, with permanent right of renewal and rental assessed on stock limitations. Today we are seeing history repeating itself with larger economical units. Farmers are now buying neighbouring farms.  Pukaki Downs history. Ben Ohau.  Very few farmers paid off their leases as the rental was low.  Some did and this land became freehold (fee-simple) unrestricted ownership.  

Powdering: A light snow fall.

Puply kidney: Affected mainly thriving single lambs from one week onwards. Sudden changes in feed can precipitate outbreaks. Death is caused by a bacteria producing toxin and the animals found blown up and the wool can be easily pulled out. Today there is a vaccine for puply kidney given to the ewes 10-14 days before they are due or lambs can be vaccinated.

Queened: a word no longer use. Francis Hayter of Rollesby, near Burkes Pass, South Canterbury wrote in his farm diary ca1890. "McDonald shearer sacked and paid less 3 sheep queened." The shearers struck. The classer and roller were sacked for cheek. 31 Jan. 1890 Press [After working about 10 days Mr. Low, Jun, the shed manager objected to the way in which he, (the shearer I presume) had shorn three sheep and said he would 'Queen' them, meaning the plaintiff would not be paid for his work.]

Razorback: A sharp ridged spur on a hill. Very steep drop off on either side.

Run: A small grazing run is larger than a farm, usually under 10,000 acres. Foothill country is often paired with some flat agricultural property. Run cattle - cattle way out the back.

Scree: Loose rock at higher altitudes. Easy way to make a quick descent.

Shanks' Pony: To walk. Shank is the lower leg. On one's own legs, often the only mean of transportation for a swagger.

Shelter belt: A windbreak of trees to protect the homestead and implement shed and stock from the wind. Often pine trees planted with some deciduous and ornamental trees to add colour and fenced off so stock can't get in. When the trees fall due to wind the tree will be chopped up for firewood.

Shelter belt: Fence lines planted with dense stands of pine trees - Pinus radiata and macrocarpa or even native plants in between to protect the stock from the wind, rain and sleet and to provide shade in the summer and firewood. Prevent wind erosion - prevent worked paddocks from taking off. A 'windbreak'. 

Slink: A slink is a dead lamb. Sometimes a  slink lamb buyer comes around picking up the dead lambs. The skins are sent to a factory to be tanned.

Snowfence: A cyclone fence at about 5,000 feet confining sheep to the lower hill country all year round. and keeping the sheep off the tops. Above this line is just running shingle and no trees or water and few tussock. Makes mustering easier. Fencing can be supplies flown out by helicopter or by tractor and tray and up bulldozed tracks and cuttings and hand carried.

Snowgrass: Large tussock. Many hills in South Canterbury are covered in tussock. No forests. Saw a few hares here. Altitude about 1800 feet.

Photo taken Nov. 2009, at the gate up the flat on the way up to Fox's Peak Ski Field

Snow raking: A large number of volunteers spend hours wading through snow up to their waist in freezing temperatures making tracks for trapped sheep. Tramp, tramp tramp! "Just drag some sheep along and try and get them into groups to go along tracks made by a snow plough or bulldozer."  Dead sheep can be pluck and skinned. "It is very exhausting work, even if you think you are fit, and a lot of work to get the sheep to follow the track." It's cold work than can lead to  un-controllable shivering and teeth chattering and snow blindness.  Helicopters can be used to drop off teams to get to sheep stranded in the snow (stamp a track down for sheep to follow) or to carry hay bales to stranded stock at high altitudes but these stock still need water to drink. The shortest day is June 22nd "as the days lengthen the cold strengthens."

We always got snow in October on Sherwood said Mum.
"This is just a `steady as you go' storm. It's calm, drizzle, a few snow flakes ... it's cold, but not all that cold, there's not a chill factor." BB.

Soldier Settlements: The Government had acreage subdivided to resettle returned servicemen from World War I and World War II. The owners of the land did receive compensation and some properties had fallen back into the Government hands when previous farmers could not make ends meet. The land court had to approve sales. WWII soldiers where entitled to a 3% interest rate on �2000.

Speargrass: Spaniard:  [Aciphylla squarrosa] A frost tolerant plant found in the foothills. 

Otago Witness, 14 February 1895, Page 39
O Love, come out on the bright hillside
Where the speargrass plumes are golden,
Where the dark hawk's wing and the skylark sing,
And far below is the river's tide
In its rock-bound channel holden.

O love, there's a breeze from the mountain crest
Where the great snow wreaths are shining,
We'll lie and dream by the tinkling stream,
And gaze away to the wondrous west
It's sunset thoughts divining.

Come, for the sun is dying in light
And his flags of rose are streaming,
And the white flocks bleat, and the flax blooms sweet,
And the star of the evening herald's the night,
The star of love for our dreaming.

February 1895. � David M'Kee Wright.
_______________________________

Let no Spaniard, ruthless, fierce,
Through her dainty stockings pierce,
Nor the crooked Irishman
Who will prick her if he can

Station: L.D.G. Acland wrote a station is where the owner lives in a home apart from the shepherds, and lives on a property with his wife and family. The acreage varies but he must shear three thousand or more sheep. His home is called a homestead.

Station: When selling a property a station includes the sheep and a run is without the sheep.

Stock Agent: aka Stock and Station agent. Attached to a firm and based in the community town. Arranges the buying and selling of farmers' livestock. Can give advice on farming supplies and livestock. Peter Walsh was our fat lamb buyer, he worked for Pynes. 

Stock Units:  A method of indicating the carrying capacity of pastoral lands for livestock. 1 sheep (a ewe)  = 1 stock unit, 1 cow = 6 stock units, 1 yearling cattle beast = 3 stock units and 1 adult deer = 3 stock units, a hogget is 0.6 su., a dairy cow in calf equals seven stock units and a bull 5.0. (NZ MAF). A farm needs an economical farm. Often when a place is on the market the stock units are listed.
2009:  Albury 1669.3 hectares, 8000 S.Us,
Mt Gerald, 10197 hectares, carrying approx. 13,000SU in cattle, sheep and deer and crop.

Straggler: A sheep missed with the muster.

Otago Witness, 23 December 1887, Page 34
On the Waimate estate Messrs Studholme have just finished the shearing of about 65,000 sheep, a decrease in the number in comparison with that of last year by a few thousands. The reduction is due to the fact that a large area of the freehold estate has been disposed of during the past year. Mr Allan McLean, of Waikakahi, paid off all his shearers last week after securing a very excellent clip. Mr John Douglas, of Waihao Downs, has put through all his heavy sheep, and the shearers are now busy with Messrs Parker Bros.' Elephant Hill shed. Mr E. Elworthy, of Pareora, will finish in about a week's time with good weather, Mr T. Teschemaker, of Otaio, has just cut out, and his shearers have have gone to Mr R.H. Rhodes' Blue Cliffs station. Shearers are now making back into the Mackenzie country and up the Rakaia Gorge to pick up late sheds, returning in time to shear "stragglers" after the second mustering of the early stations.

Summer country: Country that can only be used in the summer for grazing sheep. "The back hill blocks and  and mountain slopes are good summer tussock country".

Tailing: or docking. The docking of lamb�s tails was entirely justified because it lowered the incidence of fly strike in sheep, and that practice would continue. Also done to lessen dags. The portable tailing yards are set up in a paddock and the mob is driven through a drafting race with the lambs go into a pen. A lamb is then picked up and sat on a board at waist level with the tail hanging away and over using a hot propane iron the tail is cut off real short. Or a rubber ring is applied.  At the same time all the lamb are drenched, ear marked and if male the lamb castrated with a rubber ring and the stump of the tailed can be brushed with detol to cat down on blood poisoning. At this time some farmers vaccinate lambs with an injection a 5 in 1 vaccine for tetanus, pulpy kidney, blackleg, malignant oedema and black disease etc. A count by counting the tails to obtain a lambing percentage: e.g.130% percent. That is 130 lambs from every 100 ewes.  Everyone gets out to help. Fun for the entire family. Lambs are weaned at eight to twelve weeks. An estimated 37 million lambs were born in NZ in the spring  of 2002, a record of 124% for the season.  Lambing percentage is a measure of efficiency.  Improved pregnancy scanning technology can significantly improve flock performance and help the farmer decide on feed allocation for the pregnant ewes. Used initially to identify dry ewes, into one that accurately identifies ewes carrying singles, twins and triplets. During the summer and autumn there should be plenty of food so the ewes so they are in fine shape when they mated. Good weather helps during the two crucial periods - March and April when the ewes mate and early spring when they lamb. 

Taranaki gate: A homemade wire gate made from about five strands of No. 8 wire with one strand barbed wire along the top, loosely stretched about 10 or 12 feet depending on the length of the gateway, between two poles, two 3" tree branches cut and trimmed, tie the wire to the movable two fence posts. The gate is closed by lifting it slightly to catch a wire loop attached to the strainer post at the bottom and the top wire loop is lifted to catch the wooden pole at the top.

Tekapo Sale: The annual Tekapo Fine Wool Sheep Sale is held at Lake Tekapo.  The two-tooth and adult sale was held on 27 February 1998 with 14,569 sheep offered and the lamb sale drew a yarding of about 15,800 head made up of mainly wether and ewe lambs. Neat to see all the sheep, farmers and their hats, flat bed trucks, the big three decker sheep trucks, dust, the cool cool lake, lupins and picnic.

Topdressing: Many farms have their own landing strip with a super-bin (to hold the fertilizer (super) so it won't get wet). To fertilizer the hills a plane with a hopper is used.  The loader is a special truck with two cabs. One at the front for travelling on the road and the other cab at the back of the truck to allow the operator to see what he is doing while using the loader to load the plane. The fertilizer is measured by weight before it is released into the plane's bin. 

Tup: To put ewes out with the rams. From the old term for ram. 

Tussock:
Snow tussock
Red tussock
Blue tussock - Poa colensoi
Silver tussock
Fescue tussock - Festuca novae-zelandiae

Snowgrass "Lilydale" Nov. 2nd 2009.

Twitch: couch....This grass weed is possible to eradicate, with the use of glyphosate, [roundup]. To think that the early settlers used to include it in their grass seed mixes!! Likes moisture. Other noxious weeds in South Canterbury include sweet briar, Nodding and California thistles. Scotch thistle is a thistle in its own right, and is easier to kill than the other two. Thistle control an on going task and can be is by spraying in the spring, mowing or grubbing by hand with a grubber, often a boring job for the farmer's children. There are pockets of nassella tussock here too unfortunately. Yarr is certainly a nuisance in crop establishment. 

Warratah stake:  the black three sided metal fencing stake.

Wether: A castrated male sheep. A two-tooth wether is sometimes killed for mutton for a homestead.

Wood Pigeons: or kererus are often seen and heard around the farms with native bush in the gullies. They are the only birds big enough to swallow karaka and tawa berries and disperse them. They also help move miro seeds into clearings where they can germinate. Kereru are a keystone species vital to the health of mixed podocarp-broadleaf forests. Kereru hunting has been prohibited since 1922. 

Timaru Herald, 27 July 1885, Page 3 Hayter vs McCullough
Mr Tosswill says in his letter of the 21st July, that "one dog was given to one McLeod, by consent of the Manager." Now the real state of facts is this, McLeod was in possession of this dog twelve clear days before I heard of his having the dog. McLeod found the dogs worrying sheep on the 20th March, secured two of the three dogs, and took them home to Warreta Station. It was the 3rd of April when defendant came to me at Rollesby to arrange as to what he was to do about his dog?, and I then learned that the dog referred to was m McLeod's possession. ... Now, Mr Editor, is it consistent with reason that I would consent to McLeod having one of the dogs. McLeod was my nearest neighbor, and m constant intercourse in mustering and general work with sheep. Mr Tosswill m his letter, is no doubt very amusing and funny when he imagines items for Captain Hayter's claims for damages, for instance, " consternation among sheep �15," &c. I am not unreasonable, I think, in expecting Mr Tosswill to endeavor to learn something more about sheep, say, have six months' mustering, before he commits himself m print on a sheep case again. I am, &c, Robert Scott. Rollesby, 24th July, 18S5.

Wops Wops: Or "back of beyond". Name applied to the back country. Miles from anywhere. "off the beaten track." "Erewhon". Spell it backwards - nearer enough to nowhere!. 

Otago Witness 22nd April 1876 pg14
To estimate the weight of a bullock, take the girth, close behind the forelegs, in inches, and the length from the top shoulder to the bone of the rump perpendicularly to the extremity of the buttock. Then multiply square of the girth by length in inches, and divide the product by 517. The quotient will be the weight of meat in pounds.

More Lamb from Fewer Sheep - August 2003
    It's official. There may not be as many sheep in NZ as there used to be, but the 44 million left, and the farmers that farm them, are extraordinary performers. Financial returns from sheep have been up substantially in recent years, in spite of the large drop in sheep numbers over the last two decades. Market demands have increased, but importantly there have been impressive increases in sheep performances and labour efficiency which have offset the impact of declining sheep numbers. This is according to statistics from MAF and the Meat and Wool Innovation Economic Service examined by AgResearch sheep scientist, Dr Andy Bray (Andrew grew up on a farm down Middle Valley, near Fairlie) 
    Growing sheep is, in fact, not the sunset industry predicted by some a decade ago. Rather, it has emerged as a valuable export industry supplying high value products to elite overseas markets. Sheep meat exports earned NZ a record $2.31 billion in the year to September 2002, with lambs currently averaging $60 a head on-farm. Wool sector exports were $1.2 billion, with wool and skin products accounting for nearly 30 percent of farm gate revenue. The magnitude of wool and pelt contributions is too often ignored, according to Dr Bray. A number of factors are believed to have driven the increased production on NZ sheep farms: 
    A 25 percent increase in lambing percentage is a response by farmers to prices consistently favouring lamb over other sheep and beef products. A 25 percent increase in carcass weight is due to clear and consistent price signals favouring heavier lamb carcasses. 
    Improved nutrition and feeding is likely to have contributed to the better performances, but they are not the result of reduced stocking rates, nor because of increased sowing of new pasture. Average stocking rates on sheep and beef farms have remained constant at 6.6 stock units per hectare since the 1980s, and the area of pasture sown each year has also remained constant and remains under two percent of farm area. 
    Increased fertiliser is likely to have improved sheep nutrition due to increased feed quantity and quality. Current levels of application per stock unit are nearly twice as high as in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Another source of better nutrition could be better pasture quality as a result of improved grazing management. 
    There has been considerable effort from NZ's stud breeders to measure genetic worth and use it in their breeding programmes. In addition, there has been considerable cross-breeding with breeds introduced to NZ to improve genetic merit for lamb production traits. 
    Dr Bray noted only limited change in the seasonal slaughter pattern - the prices offered for lambs out-of-season failed to stimulate many producers to overcome the biological constraints imposed by seasonal forage growth and sheep reproduction. 

An old pet sheep - Blackie.

Scientists have analysed versions of genes that determined colour. Sheep can inherit either a gene for a dark coat or a gene for a white coat from each parent, if the parent had that gene. The gene for a dark coat is dominant - dark sheep carry either two dark genes or a dark gene and a light gene. Having a light gene boosts fitness so the best combination in evolutionary terms for the sheep is a mix of genes that produce a dark coat. This explains the decline of dark sheep because those with a pair of dark genes are the least fit, even though they are big.

The Dominion Post 06/08/2009
Sheep numbers were falling. Drought and dairy expansion had reduced flocks, resulting in a 2.8 per cent drop in total numbers, to 33.14 million, for the June year. This followed an 11.4 per cent fall in sheep numbers last year. Breeding ewe numbers fell 3.4 per cent to 22.7 million. North Island numbers fell 2.9 per cent and South Island numbers fell 3.8 per cent. North Island hogget numbers fell 12.2 per cent but South Island numbers were up 15.8 per cent. The South Island increase followed low retentions in the previous year. Beef cattle numbers fell 1.7 per cent to 4.07 million, with a 1.9 per cent fall in the North Island and a 1.2 per cent fall in the South Island. The South Island dairy herd rose 7.4

March 24 2007
Farming will remain the backbone of New Zealand's economy for the foreseeable future, Minister for Agriculture Jim Anderton said in Timaru yesterday. "A product like a lamb chop, or an apple, might not look very high tech but there is a huge amount of science behind these products," he said. The science was essential to keep New Zealand ahead in global markets because other nations had similar soils and climates, he added.

Otago Witness, 31 July 1901, Page 18
EXTENSION IN SOUTH CANTERBURY. Recognising that the dairy industry has not attained the dimensions in South Canterbury its merits demand, and the capabilities of that district justify, a, strong dairy factory company has been promoted with the object in view of establishing an up-to-date dairy factory in Timaru, having feeders in the most important surrounding centres....(lots more) 

Here in New Zealand when children can't sleep, 
their mother says :
"count the sheep, until you fall asleep".
And they we can hear them:
"one little sheep, two little sheep, ..."

Acland, L.G.D. The Early Canterbury Runs; Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd; 1930,1946, 1951, 1975. 392 pages. Index. Lots of coloured photos in the 1951 edition as well as a glossary of station words on pages 354-392.

Woodhouse, A.E. Blue Cliffs: the biography of a South Canterbury sheep station, 1856-1970; 1982, Reed  290pp.  Has a  glossary pages 278-281 and some photographs of paintings.

Grey River Argus, 10 September 1912, Page 6 AGRICULTURE SCIENCE
TIMARU, Sept 8. Mr. Murdoch McLeod, B.A., in his presidential address to the District Educational Institute, said that "Agricultural instruction was fairly well, established in the primary schools, but it would be of no real value until it was carried on through the secondary schools and through the University, nor would experimental farms be of much value until farmers were better instructed in scientific methods. Agriculture should he ranked in the University with chemistry, physics botany, mathematics or Latin. Thus farming would be raised in popular estimation among the professions, and the tide now flowing from the country to towns would be checked.
 

 Words N0. 10    N. Z. English

Otago Witness, 30 March 1899, Page 42
EPITAPH ON A "COLLIE."
Here lies of all the friends I ever knew
The one that was most faithful and most true ;
Gentle, devoted, frolicsome, and wise,
His love beamed forth from mute expressive eyes.
Not cross, or changeable, or ill at case,
As humans often are, or hard to please;
The one thought foremost in his shaggy breast,
To do her bidding whom he loved the best.
He lived without a care, without a foe,
And now has gone where all good collies go.
How many a virtue, lost alas! too soon,
Lies buried in the grave that covers " Doone."
C. R. H.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project