Click go the Shears The Gang

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Click go the Shears The Gang

Postby dentyr » 02 Oct 2023 02:37

The Shearing Gang.

Four thirty Sunday afternoon the Bedford truck pulled into the yard. Four men and four women scrambled out. This was the shearing gang.
They were shown to the shearer’s quarters as if they did not know the way. Great excitement, they had been here before a few times.

Roger had brought the mob down to the lower paddocks with most of them now on the river flat. The stragglers till wanted to stay up on the hill.
Monday morning, all set to go. A piercing whistle sent Lass and Bonnie, the two dogs, scrambling over sheep out to the paddocks. Lass took up the west fence line with a gentle trot. Bonnie was faster than greased lightning. She could go from full speed to dead stop on her belly when needed. She took off up the east line then carefully worked her way around the outer sheep and start them coming in. Bonnie had no fear, she could eye the toughest ram and bring him in.

In the shed the men took up the handpieces, no more hand clippers but powered shearing combs. Three men to shear and one to man the gate to let the sheep into the shed. They took it in turns to man the gate or shear.

Three of the four women took their places at the setting table. As soon as the fleece was off the sheep one of the woman would pick it up, flip it over onto the table, clean off any not wanted scraps and fold it and put it into the wool press. The other woman was the ‘tallyman’. She kept track of who did what. They also rotated to give the others a rest.

I commented to the boss man about Nellie. She was the odd one out, fair with her hair tied up in a ponytail. Her tanned skin was like burnished copper. She was slim, well, like a match with the wood shaved off. Bill the boss man said that Nellie at 20 years old could hold her own with any of the men. Not one to mess with. I said that I would like to see her in action shearing. He called her over and told her to shear the merinos in the side pen. One of the men handed over his position and Nellie took over for my merinos. My merinos were a lot smaller than the Romneys but the fleece was a lot finer and worth a lot more. It was a pleasure to see Nellie’s fluid motion, grab the sheep, flip it over onto its bum and run the shearing combs to clean the fleece off in one piece. She said afterwards that shearing merinos was slightly different to the others. Romneys can be sheared to the skin but merinos need to be left with a little cover as they are smaller and can get cold easily. Typical woman care.

By Friday lunchtime just over four and a half thousand sheep had been sheared and sent back to the lower slopes of the hill. Many of the locals came and joined the party which went on well into the night. Saturday morning the shearing gang left and everything returned to normal.
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