SHEARING IN A NORTH BRECONSHIRE FARM By Capt. E. Aubrey Thomas. THIS is certainly the most important day of the year on a hill farm, and some details of the procedure may be of interest to a lowland farmer or a general reader. Apart from the main business of shearing, it is a busy social gather- ing, though not by any means for the purpose of spending an idle day, for most of the men and women invited to attend have their allotted task of work to perform. With the exception of a few casual helpers for unskilled work no one receives a cash wage, for all assistance is repaid in kind at neighbouring shearings. Many come from a long distance, and though nowadays a number of cars are to be seen, there will still be some 30 to 40 ponies turned out to graze in an adjoining field The day's work begins before daybreak, when some of the shepherds assemble at the farm for an early breakfast before starting to gather the flocks, while others set out on their ponies to meet at an appointed place on the unenclosed hills. On a big sheepwalk there may be some three or four distinct flocks settled on different parts of the hill, and within these well known customary boundaries the sheep of each flock are generally to be found. They know these boundaries almost as well as the shepherds, and when dis- turbed by the ponies and dogs, any belonging to an adjoining flock which happen to be on the sheepwalk to be gathered, will at once make off towards their own ground. If it were not for this acquired instinct there would be nothing to prevent sheep straying for many miles over a vast area of open hills. It would be possible to walk without meeting a fence from the Llangurig-Aberystwyth road on the North to the L.M.S. Railway, near the Sugar Loaf Tunnel, on the South, and from the upper waters of the Wye near Rhayader on the East, to the Water- shed of the Tivy on the West. Occasionally they do stray, and are not discovered till shearing day on some other farm when they are identified and returned by devious methods to their owners. But to return to the business of the day. The gathering shepherds divide forces, some at the bottom of the valleys, and others on the top