Cameron & Rhoda McMaster's

Sheep in my Blood
by Cameron Mc Master

Reviewed by Patrick Seeton of Napier

There are some truly remarkable personalities in our region. Cameron McMaster of Napier is one.  Cameron McMaster has written a book about what has really driven him in life.

'Sheep in my Blood' is a valuable 130-page account of his [in own words] "career as a sheepman, with special reference to the development of the Dohne Merino Sheep Breed in South Africa". It is, so to speak, a biography of an exceptionally interesting life. It is well illustrated with photographs throughout.

First, let us clearly understand what a Dohne Merino is. We are not all sheep farmers but we are interested in Cameron McMaster the man so it is important to understand the breed of sheep that has kept Cameron absorbed for half a century. It is a breed of domestic sheep initially developed in South Africa. The breed was started in the late 1930s by the South African Department of Agriculture. It was developed by interbreeding Peppin-style Merino ewes and German Mutton Merino rams. The Dohne Merino is a dual purpose breed providing meat and fine wool.

At maturity, the Dohne Merino ram weighs 80 to 100 kilograms and the ewe will weigh 50 to 65 kilograms. At 100 days, both sexes will weigh 25 to 35 kilograms. Yearly fleece production is 4.0 to 5.0 kilograms with an average diameter of 17 to 21 microns (0.017mm to 0.021mm). The diameter of a human hair ranges from 17 to 18 microns. 

In the closing pages Cameron mentions a recent sale of Dohne Merinos, where, "the 102, 18-month-old rams offered for sale in June 2010, with an average body weight of just over 80kg, had an average fibre diameter of 19.2 microns".

Personally, I am very far removed from being a sheep farmer but I enjoy reading and am constantly interested in people. I find Cameron McMaster's book eminently readable.

For an expert assessment I turn to the people who do know, for instance, David Kain, President of the Australian Dohne Breeders Association, writes  in the foreword, "I have read 'Sheep In My Blood', several times and found it enthralling reading. A must read for all Dohne breeders. Cameron McMaster's efforts throughout his life towards the development of the Dohne Breed and an animal that will survive even the harshest of times has greatly influenced the lives and indeed fortunes of many thousands of farmers around the world. Cameron McMaster is not an ordinary man, his strength, his courage and the absolute conviction of his beliefs stands him apart from his peers."

'Sheep in my Blood' is being marketed directly by Cameron at a price of R220 for the book and R200 for an E-book on a CD.  This will include postage." He can be contacted personally, Cameron McMaster,  P O Box 26, NAPIER 7270; telephone /fax 028 423 3651; mobile 082 774 2075; E-mail .

The photograph shows the author of 'Sheep in my Blood', Cameron McMaster [right] being presented with a hot-off-the-press first copy by Stephen Abbott [left], chairman of the West Australian Dohne Committee in Katanning in October this year.