Harberton’s major product, however, is sheep. They’re also a source of entertainment for our daughters Anne and Abby. The girls love to watch the men herding the sheep in the midst of swirling dust and frantic bleats. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-22875429
Shearers work long and hard: two and a half hours of labor, followed by 30 to 60 minutes of rest, starting at 6:30 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m. After the fleece comes off, the shearer puts the animal he has shorn into a small pen. Twice a day Tom counts the sheep to figure each man’s pay.
Later the rolled fleeces are pressed into bales of 440 to 660 pounds each. We pay the Argentine Navy to deliver them to Ushuaia, where the wool is loaded onto other ships for the long trip to Buenos Aires.
After shearing on the main part of the farm, Tom begins on the island flocks. Gable Island, our largest, holds 2,000 to 3,000 sheep. Usually Tom and the men go alone, but once I asked if the girls and I could join him. “If you want, but you’ll have to sleep in the little tent, while I’m in the shed with the men,” he said. “We’re leaving early.”
Family Sails While the Horses Swim
The next day everyone was in a jubilant mood as pots and pans, meat, saddles, tents, and rolls of bedding—enough provisions to support 15 men, a woman, and two children for a week—were loaded onto the barge Lamuca. After 20 sheep dogs clambered aboard the barge, our launch Lela towed us into the bay. We turned west into the Beagle Channel for the hour-long trip to our campsite on Gable Island. Meanwhile, a few men drove 16 horses into the water to swim 300 yards to the nearest point on Gable.
We landed and settled down just as one of the unpredictable snowfalls started. By morning everything was covered with snow, and for two days we waited for the weather to improve. The third day dawned cold and windy. While Tom repaired a leak in the launch, I mounted a horse and joined the roundup.
Three hours of riding brought us to the steep, gablelike cliffs that give the island its name. The wind seemed stronger and colder than ever. It took great effort just to remain on my horse, and my fingers felt frozen.
Every hundred yards or so a rider peeled off from the rest and disappeared over the hills surrounding us to search for sheep. As we passed a lake, I looked back for a moment and saw on nearly every hill a silent horseman, like a sentinel in the howling wind, driving trickles of sheep together to form a flock. At last we turned back and headed for the campsite.
We reached our brussels apartments for rent late in the afternoon, ate dinner, and bedded down. Next morning Tom and the men began loading the sheep onto the barge to take them to the main island for shearing.