Marking after clipping

John Gate:"They used to make marking in a jam pan on t’ fire. T’was to put on hot. There was a little marker for lambs, a middle one for next uns and a big ’un for t’yows.

"This old man Milch Williamson, there was a big stone aback the door and only one sheep could get through at time. He stood, he was stooped there bent double, and as they came out he catched them and just held them around his knee. Nice to mark. Once, and they used to run away up yard and into t’ field, never rubbed again each other, smudging and that. Next year you marked them, you could just mark atop of it, still there, just mark atop of it, nae bother."

Marking sheep at Red Mire Farm, 1900

This ewe is being marked on the near hook.

Marking sheep at Red Mire Farm, Mungrisdale, around 1900

After the sheep is clipped, she is marked with the owner's farm mark. The local word for this is "smit". All the farms in an area know each other's marks; some are red, some black or green or blue. The different areas of the sheep are named such as "hip" or "hook", "rib" or "flank", "shoulder", and the sides are defined as "near" (sheep's left side) or "far" (right side).