Lambing down has nothing to do with sheep or lambs.
Lambing down was the practice of taking your entire pay (cheque) for the season and giving it to the the barmaid (or publican). They would provide enough drink to keep the man drunk until he was told his cheque had run out.
The practice was against the law but magistrates would seldom convict the publican.
These drinking orgies resulted all too often in insanity and death, not just because of the quantity of alcohol they consumed, but also because they drank nobblers.
A nobbler is a small shot glass filled to the top with hard liquor laced with some other booze, drug or even poison that would give the drink a real hit.
One gallon of good rum could be doctored to make eight gallons of nobbled rum. Nobbled rum cost less to buy and got the person drunker faster and cheaper.
Depending on what the rum was mixed with, it could kill him when lambing down.
I’m a broken-hearted shearer, I’m ashamed to show my face,
The way that I got lambed down is a sin and a disgrace;
I put a cheque together, and thought that it would do,
So I just slipped into Orange for to spend a week or two.
I thought I was no flat, so resolved to cut it fat;
I dressed myself up in my best, put a poultice round my hat;
I went to have a nobbler at a certain house in town,
Where the barmaid she was cautioned for to lamb a fellow
I would get up in the morning to have a glass of stout;
She gave up many a shilling, for she was in every shout.
She would toss me up at Yankee Grab, and keep me on the
But somehow or the other I was always bound to lose.
My money getting short I resolved to know my fate;
I asked this pretty barmaid if she would be my mate,
When she said, ‘Young man, my feelings don’t encrouch,
I’m a descent married woman, and my husband drives the
I had two-and-six in silver and half-a-bar of soap,
A box of Cockle’s pills and a pot of Holloway’s,
I thought to turn a farmer and grow pumpkins near the town,
But she squashed all my pumpkins when she had me
I had two old shirts, but they were all in rags;
A pair of moleskin trousers and a hat without a crown,
This was my ten years’ gathering when clearing out of town;
But it’s nothing when you’re used to it to do a lambing down.