Life is short.... Occasionally bend the rules.... Forgive quickly.... Kiss slowly.... Love truly.... Laugh uncontrollably.... And, never regret anything that made you smile....

Friday, July 22, 2011

Shearing 101.

A day in the life of a farm-hand...

1. Get sheep out of the paddock.
Make sure that you haven't left any behind, and remember to shut the gate..

2. Drove sheep into the yards and draft off any lambs, or silly sheep who have got into the wrong paddock.
( Drafting is sorting the sheep out as they run through a narrow passageway in the yards using a gate at the end to direct the sheep into a yard on either side . Another term for this passageway is 'race'.)

3.' Shoo' the sheep into the shed to be penned up for the night. Hope that they run in well and follow behind each other, especially if it looks like rain. This exercise, and it is exercise, usually ensures that no-one attends  gym the next day, you get plenty just doing this!

4. The next day. Pen up the sheep into the little pens where your friendly local shearer 'Jeff' will be able to drag them out on to the shearing board to remove their fleece.

5. Keep this pen topped up all day or you will hear your friendly local shearer call 'sheepo'. (as opposed to 'sheep poo' which is a whole other thing!)

6. Your friendly local shearer will first shear off the belly of the sheep. That is the wool off the belly. This gets put aside and then the whole fleece is shorn off in one piece, with the friendly local shearer twisting the sheep around and turning himself this way and that until the sheep is done.

The sheep come out of the wool a lovely snowy white color. It must feel so good to get rid of the weight of the wool, as they are always so quick on their feet once they are shorn. Before the fleece comes off they can be very cantankerous, not wanting to move, and certainly not wanting to go where you would like them to.

7. The wool is gathered up in a bundle off the shearing board and thrown onto the wool table where the 'scraggy' bits are removed and thrown into a bin for the 'pieces'. The little bits of wool which fall off the fleece are called locks. These usually fall straight through the bars on the wool table onto the floor.

8. Once the fleece has been skirted, it is rolled into a ball and the friendly local wool-classer 'Wes', comes along and decides which bin it goes into. If you look at a piece of wool you see the fibres whether they are course or fine, what the color is, if it has a break in the wool. These signs indicate what 'class' the wool is, or what type it is. Once this is decided, the wool is pressed up in the wool press, and turned into bales.

9. The sheep are counted outside the shearing shed once they are shorn for the 'tally'. This indicates how many sheep the local friendly shearer has shorn and we pay him per sheep for the pleasure of shearing!

10. The sheep then have to have the equivalent of our hair lice treatment applied to their backs. You only have to have someone else's sheep get into your paddock carrying little nasties and soon your flock carries them too. This happened this year, so we are diligently applying blue stripes of treatment to the 'girls' backs.

11. This is the stage where you pray for warm weather for the sheep to go out into. We usually try and save  lush feed and sheltered paddocks for the 'girls' when they are bare shorn.

Jeff and 'Charlie' the ram, modelling the latest in shearing shed clobber,  the ram 'burqa'.

Jeff, our friendly local shearer, has invented a unique piece of shearing equipment, which helps in the shearing of the flock rams.
Rams are usually very big and strong, and often need two to help shear them. Jeff has a mask, which he applies to the ram's head in the pen before he shears them. This mask calms the ram enabling Jeff to shear the 'big-one'  with less stress to both shearer and ram.. Just ingenious..
This endeth Shearing 101.


  1. Thank you Rosie, you've made me very thankful that I have no sheep. *G* Jeff is a smart guy! I bet it feels great to have all that wool off!

  2. Great to see the photos of the shorn sheep, haha have you heard of Shawn the Sheep with Wallace and Grommet? They look so cool now in their new outfits!

  3. Fascinating. Our lives are so different. Hugs from a city girl.

  4. What a lovely post Rosie.... it was lovley to spend some time with you at the station!

  5. Hello Rosie,

    Then you hope and pray that the wool price is great. I saw on Landline some Italians paid $185000 for one bale of Aussie wool.

    Did you have to be the cook as well?
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  6. Rosie, I do love your "farm life" blogs!!! Glad the shearing went well and hope the weather was kind to the bare girls. Have a lovely weekend.

  7. I imagined the song Click go the shears while reading your post. I love the pic of the 'girls' once they were shorn. They look so clean and fresh, hopefully not too cold!

  8. very interesting Rosie thankyou for your step by step now i know how it all goes.

  9. Loved the sheep sheering expose'. Thank you for LOL Hugs!

  10. Great post Rosie...we used to take our little herd up the road and do this...nice to reminisce about it all here...hope you get some sunny days now for your girls...Dzintra

  11. Hey Rosie, Thank you for allowing us into the shearing shed, great memories...The wool bailer is still scary lol.

    Jeff is very cleaver to make the ram hood...he should market them, they might become as common place as the shearers sling.

    Anyway I know you are glad that is over for another year...go relax.

    Blessings Kelsie

  12. Such an interesting post , loved reading about the shearing and I would say that Jeff is a talented guy it must take a lot of skill to do a good job .I bet you are glad that is over for a while ;-)

  13. It reminds me of holidays spent on relatives farms when I was young! Thanks for such an interesting post, hope you can rest now!!

  14. Great post Rosie! I'd guess the only difference in shearing from Aussie to NZ is our rousies sort the wool in the shed themselves, then once it's transported to the wool store, all the testing is done on it there before auction. Our shearers each have their own tally counter so they know how many they've done each run. Brilliant photos, thanks so much for sh(e)aring!

  15. Awesome post - thank you! Do the get shawn ((?) sorry bout spelling...)in Winter?

  16. Amazing! Such an incredible skill shearing. How he gets it all off in one piece is astounding. Thanks for the tour it was great. I hope those woolies stay warm until they grow another coat.

  17. missed the first step........

    try your hardest to avoid the woolshed at all costs by working in toen or something else extremely important as that is the only way you can avoid the shed...........if all else fails proceed to step one.........


  18. Seems to me it's like a visit to a health spa for your sheep. They get a haircut and a skin treatment followed by a slap up meal and a stay in de luxe accomodation.... book me in for next year!

  19. I love shearing time, we often spend a week down with my husbands Family on their sheep farm in West NSW at shearing time...I love it! I love old shearing sheds! I can't wait to do our first shear here, only a couple of months away I think! It should be nice and warm for them then... :)

  20. I loved getting to take a peek into your world of sheep shearing so thank you for sharing that with us! It's just fascinating to me. My whole family has read your post. LOL! How many sheep do y'all shear?

  21. Oh dear me;lovely to see your daily life!! Thanks for sharing these photos and HAPPY QUILTING in between:-)