Son-in-law Robert is a good keen man and can turn his hand to most rural jobs. He works as a “Small Block Specialist” and breaks and shoes horses, cuts hay, builds fences, dips and shears sheep, moves cattle around the farms, and anything else the hobby farmer needs doing. He invited us along to a local farm to get a first hand look at the art of sheep shearing. By the time we arrived the two shearers and the two rousies had been working for hours. Shearing is an art, and is a very physical, unrelenting, back breaking job, done as fast as possible with the least number of blows (strokes) as the shearer can.
Robert and fellow shearer Gary morning’s contract was to shear 100 young six month old lambs in the small two man shearing shed. The lambs will then be sent off to the works. (They may have been young lambs, but they looked quite big to me). Into the holding pen, grab a lamb, sit it on it’s rump, and start shearing, while bent over double. Robert likes to work with a sling, to help support his back.
While the shearers are working, the rousies clear the wool away and put it in the appropriate bales. Grand-daughter Megan was working with Robert, and the farm owner Ian was helping Gary, the other contract shearer.
As soon as one sheep is finished, it is moved down the chute to the pen under the shearing shed, and the whole cycle starts again. We were tired just watching.
Morning tea break rolled around, and the workers finally had time to stop and chat. Don’t think the farmer was too happy when we suggested he should be paying the shearers time and a half since it was holiday time, though. Plus a day in lieu. Maybe we should keep our big city ideas to ourselves.
Megan climbed into the wool press to help compress the fleeces down.
Once shorn the liberated lambs happily ran into the adjacent paddock, baa-ing to each other about the indignities they had just suffered. Little do they know what lays in store for them next, when they get loaded onto a stock truck and get taken away for the last trip of their young lives.