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The kitchen was dark and still. There was a sound outside that I hadn’t noticed until now…what is it? Ah..rain! I dash up to the bedroom and open the door to show Howard the lovely sound but his response is not in the excited form I expected.
He leaps out of bed and next minute he is in his ute and gone. As it turns out some wool bales were on the back of the truck and exposed to the weather. Half the sheep were still out of the wool shed too so todays shearing will be a shorter day.
I enter the shed around 11am and our 2013 shearing is in full swing. The men have been warned I want to take a few photos so they get on with their work. The shed is loud with the humming of machinery; a radio in the background and the odd joke but there is little time for conversation. 4 sheep are held still by the shearers as their fleece is careful and swiftly taken off. The remaining stock waits in small pens behind the old swinging doors.
This shed was built in 1968 but seems a lot older. The wide-open room fills with a strong smell of lanolin. Light is falling over the large bales of wool as some men are dragging them onto the back of the truck. Its so busy and really interesting to watch as it all flows like clock work. A young man is sweeping the floor, two others are throwing the fleece across the old table and go on to skirt it. This is removing any dirty wool in preparation for classing it. The wool classer determines each fleeces quality and places it in its appropriate area to be pressed. Each bale is then weighed, stenciled and stacked in the shed.
3500 of our sheep will lay back and have their wooly jumpers taken off this week. The bales will then be taken to Goulburn and be tested for length, strength and yield. Once branded, the wool is then taken to Sydney and we wait for the day of sale.
I hope you enjoy your wooly jumpers, coats and blanket’s this winter and give a thought to the shearer who works tirelessly all year so that we can be warmed by this beautiful natural material. A whole team of people are a part of the wool industry, from the farmers who actually need to care for the stock and their pastures all year to the customer who makes the choice to pick up a wool product. Well done to all involved!