Men at Work

Norman Mackay, finsbay, isle of harris, fank


Driving through Finsbay this morning I spotted Norman Mackay at Finsbay fank. For the benefit of those who’ve never heard of one before, a fank is a form of sheep pen, where the animals are corralled, sheared, dosed, marked etc. Most of the shearing has taken place by now (August) but twenty or thirty missed out first time round. This was catch-up session for the stragglers. I’d driven half a mile past the fank before realising I had all my camera gear with me. I pulled in at the next passing place, swiftly executed a 17 point turn on the single track road and headed back to the fank. I checked Norman and his two co-workers, Norman Macleod and Captain Knockie Morrison were OK with having a camera pointed in their direction while they went about their business. Turns out I was dealing with a bunch of pros – they’d obviously done this before! I was good to go, as long as they get a percentage of the earnings that are bound to roll in once the photos are picked up by the likes of National Geographic and the National Crofting Museum etc 😉

Also present, Knockie from Lingerbay:

Nokie from Lingerbay

Another shot of Knockie, with the 12 volt battery powering the sheep shears:

Nokie the battery boy


Head honcho, Norman Mackay watches the action, proudly wearing his ‘South Harris Show, Tractor Liaison Officer’ baseball cap:

Tractor Liaison Officer

And here’s the guy who was doing all the work, Norman Macleod, ace sheep shearer from Quidinish:

Sheep shearing at Finsbay Fank

Two down, plenty more to go

Finsbay fank is unusual in that it doesn’t look as drab and utilitarian as the other fanks you see around the islands. It’s probably the red painted gates, or maybe the block work is neater than usual. Some might say I’ve lived here too long if I’m starting to notice differences between the various fanks. There must be something about it because I photographed it one January night back in 2010 but minus animals and humans:

Finsbay Fank, crofting, isle of harris

The three upright poles are supports for the mobile shearing motor, as seen in the photo of Norman at work above.

Many thanks to the two Normans and Knockie for allowing me to intrude on proceedings. Royalty payments expected soon 😉

8 thoughts on “Men at Work”

  1. Thanks for the memory!
    ‘Nocky’ and I attended the same school. He is also a cousin of mine … and, I used to live just down the road from a few of your wonderful photographs. I have also used that red ‘kiosk’ you show, at, what was once, the local Post Office.

    Thank you … It is comforting to know there are ‘others’ out there .. strangers, who care.

  2. These are amazing pictures that I stumbled upon tonight whilst showing my girlfriend where we are heading to in the morning! “Nockie” and Nocky” is my father and the correct spelling is ‘Knockie’. Happy Norman, the Tractor Liaison Officer, should know better! That’s what happens when you ask a builder how to spell!!!!!! Lingerbay here we come! 🙂

  3. Cheers Derick – I’ve gone back through the post and corrected the spelling of of your dad’s name. Enjoy your stay on Harris!

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