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John Smith Williams

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The Shearer
by John Smith Williams

Friday, November 07, 2003

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One can only provide a snippet on the art of shearing. Shearing has been one of Australias most important industrys.

A Note On The Verse.

Before shearing machine were invented in the 30s hand shearers used blades. Shaped like a pair of tongs a gun shearer could average about 200 sheep a day. A gun shearer was one that was a top fast clean shearer, If a shearer cut or nicked the sheep, his daily Tally could be docked.
The boards , is the area where the shearers stand to shear the shee, Usually a strip of about 10 or 15feet in front of the pens where the sheep are kept.
It is the rouse abouts, or board boys job to pick up the fleece and throw it out on to a table where it is skirted, That means any dirty pieces around the edge of the fleece are taken off. This is also known as piece picking. A large shed could be anyting up to twenty stands ( sheares with 4 or 5 rouseabouts and others. When a sjearer shouted “Wool Away the boy had to rush up and pick up a fleece. If a sheare nicke a sheep the shearer would call out “Tar” The boy woiild rush up with a tar pot and dap it in the cut..

The Shearer

He was short and stocky, feet planted wide apart,
He was on the board there, waiting for a start,
His blades had been all aharpend, ready close to hand.
He was aiming to be the ringer, of that shearing band,

He'd been shearing up in Queensland, made a quid or two,
Travelled down to Wagga, where he showed what he could do,,
Now he's near the Alice, out to have some fun,
In all the sheds throughout the land, he's known as a gun
he's very seldom beaten, he's the leader of the team,
Been shearing now for twenty years and takes the fleece off clean

You can see he's not a new chum, by the way he holds his blades,
he grips the sheep between his knees as the first few cuts are made,
Soon the fleece is lying, flat upon the floor,
he stands the sheep up on its legs and pushes it out the door.

The rouse a bout is waiting, to grab that flattened fleece,
Takes it to the classer who skirts it piece by piece,
Throws it in the big bin ready for the press
And the sheatrer goes on working, others to impress,

Just a pound a hundred thats the shearers pay,
So he works like crazy to earn more in a day,
And the boss is always watching to make sure
he's shearing clean,
For if he nicks or cuts them , he knows
what that will mean,

A lousy quid a hundred that's all the squatters pay,
A shearers got to work like hell , to make enough to stay,
For it's a hard l life shearing, to tramp from shed to shed,
To shear more than a hundred a day, if you want to keep ahead,

When the shearings over, he heads off on a spree,
Heading for the nearest pub, the drinks are all on me,
It's hard work to earn the money, much easier to spend,
When he's broke they kick him out and it's off to shear again.

John W

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Reviewed by Jeff Mason 11/7/2003
I commented on this earlier, but you must have re-posted it. This is a beautiful commentary on an interesting part of your Aussie culture.
Very nicely done, indeed!
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