Sunday, 21 February 2016

My last words on sheep- on the Southern Shears competition 2016

I am spending my last weekend in Gore working.

No mountains, lakes or forests to explore.

Confined to quarters, with only my laptop to amuse me between work based activities.

I tried making some scones.

The locals asked the other day what a cream tea is, and I had hoped to show them the real mackoy.

But I didn't have the right flour, or proper scales or a tablespoon to measure the sugar. The brushing of egg yolk on the top looked more like an omelet; such is the golden richness of Henny and Penny's eggs ( not my choice of names I would like you to know).

free range egg yolk

They rose in the oven and were then thrown in the bin.

So I had to go out and find something else to do.

Nothing much happens in Gore on a Saturday afternoon. Most of the shops are closed.

So I went to the sheep shearing competition. As you do.

Sheep arrive in trucks.

When they are unloaded they look like this

before shearing

These sheep have already been 'crutched' so the shearers remove the fleece in one piece.

Crutching involves a bit of tidying up around the rear end; if you look carefully you can see that they have very little wool on their posteriors.

Many a farmer has seen me in my professional capacity and advised me of injuries sustained while 'crutching' . I won't tell you what I thought they meant.....

I'll be an expert by the time I leave.

shearing in action

This is a very serious competition. Shearing is a very macho culture, and pay depends on speed and skill.

Each competitor has to shear 9 sheep as fast and as skilfully as possible, in front of a crowd of enthusiastic locals.

Southern Shears 2016

This video shows you how it is done. The commentator does a star job.

Its a bit like watching a horse race, but without the track, and I didn't see any signs of betting. Just cups of coffee and cigarettes.

The fleeces are compressed in a baling machine.

wool baling machine

And the finished article looks like this.

shorn sheep

badly shorn sheep  (not in Gore)

So that is that. I will say no more about sheep.



Monday, 15 February 2016

Down on the farm in Southland - a bit of sheep herding and some pink hay bales

farmland, Garston.
I have been researching hay bales.

An important topic if you are a farmer. Which I am not.

Bale wrap comes in a variety of colours.

Green is the most popular, as it blends in with the countryside ( unless if is arranged on a fence)

green bale wrap

White is a close second.

And I have once seen blue.

But it was the pink ones that caught my eye.

marshmallow bales

pink bales

I have learned that they were developed to raise awareness for breast cancer. You can read more here 

And the blue ones are for prostate cancer. Farmers Weekly has the low down

It could get complicated....

There are many colours and many diseases....

pink for breast cancer support

I have also been rounding up sheep on the beautiful Glenfellen farm.

You will not find kinder, more welcoming folk than the McMillan family and their friendly woofers. Woofers work on the farm for board and lodging, as a means to travel overseas.

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Not to mention the dogs.

The house dogs are not allowed to work with sheep ( wrong brain cells)

House dog

And the working dogs are not allowed near the house, but are allowed to ride on the quad bike.

working dogs

The farm is steep and the tracks are rough gravel, but the walk to the top of the hill is well worth the climb.

the top of the farm

A flock of sheep needed to be moved, soon after my arrival, to a different part of the farm.

sheep moving

Moving sheep involved about six dogs, a quad bike, two farmers and a truck.

driving the sheep

I rode in the truck. It was suitably scruffy, and made mincemeat of large swathes of thistles.

truck interior

house dog watching the action

the truck

You will, of course,  notice that the passenger door opens onto a very large clump of thistles.

I now know why farmers wear jeans and boots rather than shorts and sandals.

Scotch thistle is a problem, as is English gorse, and California thistle. All imported. None useful.

And here are the sheep, in case you are wondering.

Once the excitement was over I climbed to the top of the hill where I found more sheep.

It is not possible to get closer than this to a sheep. They run off when you reach a critical distance.

The view was stunning.


I would have loved to stay much longer.

Maybe I'll take up woofing....