Farm animals were not a common sight in Ulster during the 1700s and early 1800s. Sheep and cattle were only reared on high or very wet ground, or land not fit for crop production. Milk cows had been more common in earlier times, but as crops such as potatoes were more valuable and yielded more food per acre, the gradually replaced dairy cattle on the land.
A fall in grain and flax prices after the mid 1800s caused this to change. In addition, emigration meant that there were fewer people to work the land and grow crops; whereas livestock farming needed less labour.
Pictured right is a pair of spring-tined sheep shears. The blades are connected by a loop of metal. ‘W & P Ward, England’ stamped on the blade. From Strabane, County Tyrone.
Pictured left is a fleam, this was used to puncture the skin in bloodletting or phlebotomy. Until the late 1800s this process was thought to cure many illnesses in animals as well as humans. This veterinary fleam, length 9cm when closed, has three blades which fold into a brass case, lined with bone.
Each blade is triangular in shape, and graduated in size according to the size of cut to be made. The fleam was usually placed over the jugular vein and inserted using a fleam stick, a heavy wooden club used to drive the blade in with a quick motion. This fleam was made in the 1800s by Abram Brooksbank of Sheffield, England.
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