Our farming enterprise consists of cattle, dry land farming of wheat, barley and chickpeas and wool production. Once a year we get all the sheep in for shearing, about 6,000 in total! We employ a shearing contractor who brings his team and virtually everything they’ll need for the two weeks it takes to shear all of the sheep. We provide the accommodation in the form of quarters and a large kitchen complete with an old wood burning stove. It may look like roughing it, but I’ve seen shearers bring t.v. antennas and televisions and even X Boxes! And talk about great food…shearers’ cooks are notorious for being amazing cooks. I feel sorry for my husband during shearing because he eats at home, not with the shearers (not that I’m a bad cook)!
Getting ready for shearing is a busy time. I take care of cleaning the quarters which basically consists of sweeping out all ten rooms, cleaning the shower and toilet blocks and cleaning the kitchen. My husband, Philip, takes care of cutting firewood for the wood burning stove, ordering supplies such as wool packs to put the wool in, bale fasteners, brooms, and back liners to apply to the sheep once they’ve been shorn. Then he has the task of mustering the sheep from 9,500 acres.
These sheep are in pens in the shearing shed awaiting their turn to be shorn.
Here the fleece is being skirted, which is removing the dirty edges. It’s also being classed by the gentleman on the right, which means he’s identifying the quality of the wool.
The completed wool bales have the property name and the wool class stenciled onto them and are stacked in the wool shed. Once shearing is completed, a large flatbed truck will pick them up and deliver all 109 bales (This number varies a bit year to year. We had 109 this year) to our wool marketer for testing and selling.
The previous photos are of shearing at our home property. Here are a few at our other farm where I tend to get a bit more involved!
It’s time to get the sheep in for shearing so I’m helping them along.
As the sheep’s wool grows out this brand (applied with branding fluid) will still show up on their backs and will make it easier to draft them when necessary. Drafting is just separating them into different groups.
This is the old farm house and believe it or not this is such a cozy room! There’s no television so I always make sure I have a good book to take with me.
Now here are a few videos if you’d like to see the live action! I hope this has given you a little insight into some of what wool growers do to get that beautiful wool to market for those amazing products!