Jonathan: Quaint how some archaic words linger on in fixed expressions: girding, for example, which is only ever used with his/her/my etc and loins. It shares the same root – in Old English – as girdle – originally meaning simply a belt. As for the connection with loins, well like many such expressions, it became fixed in the form we know today thanks to King James’ Bible. As to meaning, it’s equivalent to ‘rolling up one’s sleeves’ in readiness for a physical task; but in this case it means another mug of coffee and a couple of hours quiet and rest in preparation for shearing sheep this afternoon. I sheared eleven some weeks ago, but there’s seventeen still to do ; hours of back-breaking work with hand shears (I do a good job, but lack confidence). First the sheep need to be rounded up: Seonaidh will bring his dogs over at around 1pm, and that will take them no more than ten to fifteen minutes. The fank is in the new field, by the road, and at this stage is makeshift – a number of borrowed steel gates tied together: if this round-up works well, I’ll make the layout permanent with post and rail fences, or buy steel hurdles, but I’m reasonably confident that the temporary fank will do its job. What’s making me nervous, and a little stressed, is the weather. Shearing really needs to be done in the dry, not just because that makes it more pleasant work, but because the fleeces will spoil if they are stored wet or even damp: drying them out afterwards is no easy task! Yet – just as happened at the last round-up (and for that matter I’m sure every time I’ve made arrangements for shearing), the long spell of dry sunny weather we’ve been enjoying has been briefly interrupted for a day of clouds and intermittent rain – which on any other day would have been welcomed with shouts of joy, the land being so drought-stricken!. I’ve been keeping a close eye on the Met Office website, which currently forecasts for the Sound of Barra, the rain easing up at around mid-day, and it remaining dry, if overcast, all afternoon.