How The Free Roaming Sheep Huts Began

By George Cook


The farming practices we have today vary so much from those that were used in the past. There were times when labor was cheap and easily available. Farmers did not use the chemical fertilizers that are now commonly used. In those times, only manure was utilized in the increase of the production of soil. Using this method, however, proved to be very challenging. It was complicated to transport the manure that was needed to the fields from the farmyards. Therefore, farmers decided to make use of the lambs to ease this work. From this, making use of free roaming sheep huts was then born.

The animals that were utilized in fertilizing the uplands were not the same as those used in fertilizing the downs of the valleys. Those farms that had chalky soil or down had the downland rams. These lambs would be kept tightly in hurdles. They could not roam without restrictions.

These animals would be moved to other pastures once they were done grazing a particular field. When they were done, they would leave manure in these farms. The farmers would cultivate the manure in. After they had done this, then the land would be fertile for growing oats or wheat. Otherwise, these crops would not have grown on the soils.

During those time the farm owners needed to have a flock of sheep. The rams also needed to be hardworking. Therefore, the shepherd was valued at that time. The downland farms were in most cases located in the valleys. This made them be really far from the fields. For this reason, shepherd needed to have a shelter to store their belongings and their gear.

The job was not so easy. It was necessary for the lambs to be moved each day. The work was therefore mostly physical. It was therefore vital for the care taker to have a place to sleep and eat especially when the season of lambing was on. Therefore, the shepherd's hut was built. It is also referred to as the sheep shelter.

This hut had the kitchen, the store room, the dining room, the sitting room, and the bedroom. There were various designs for the hut. The important thing was that it gave the shepherd durable and practical accommodation. The old cabins would have a stove in a corner. This stove would be used for cooking and warmth. There was also a window on each side so that the shepherd could easily monitor the lambs.

In addition to this, the hut had a door which was hinged and stable. The door was always located from the prevailing wind. This was vital as it helped the shepherd to hear the flock. There was also strong axles. These axles had cast iron wheels that would assist in the movement from field to field.

It is a fact that these shelters were long lasting. It can be proven from those numerous shelters that still exist today. Most of them are used to store some grains. When you look alongside most fields, you can find them parked there. Some have even be neglected. Most farmers have contracted the shelters to the agricultural museums. They are now just proof of the past times.




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