Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Sheep Shearing Adventure

We left at, what is commonly known in Australia (or at least in my neck of the woods), as 'sparrow fart'. Do you know that term? It means extremely early, so early that even the birds are still waking up. 7am; A herculean feat for most mothers of 2.1.

We were heading south west from Wollongong, which is on the coast, to Goulburn, an inland regional centre famous for sheep grazing and THE BIG MERINO. Australians' facination with 'Big Things' deserves post all of its own don't you think!!??

As we arrived on the property after almost 2hrs driving it began to rain for real, totally pouring!! This was quite an amazing thing because Goulburn has had a very severe water crisis. Walking into the shearing shed was like stepping back in time. A hundred years of dust and lanoline was caked over everthing and the coloured ewes were all crammed in waiting to be shorn. It smelt wonderful.

It was very atmospheric and spoke to me of an earlier time when this country was being dragged from its colonial past into the modern nation we are today 'on the sheep's back' as many would have it. (But maybe that's because I'm a city slicker) Milly and Gemma loved it. Seeing the sheep shorn was fantastic! The rain on the tin roof combined with the noise of the mechanical shears was incredible. Below is the shearer at work and Jess the owner weighing up some fleece. Jess and Jeff were so hospitable and delighted to show us all around and tell us all about how to tell what is a good fleece, they were great to the kids and Milly learned heaps.

Of course we went there to get fleece and here is mine, a lovely silver grey. I'm really looking forward to spinning it. Here are, Jeff the owner and his son Charlie skirting my fleece.
We even got to pat a couple of lambs!! Then we left the workers in peace and had luch at a fabulous old country cafe in Crookwell, the ladies I was with, all had lambs fry with mashed potatoes and peas (for those who dont know lambs fry is sheep liver fried up with bacon and rich gravy) I'm not adverse to lambs fry, I've had it before (cooked by my grandma) and loved it but in my queasy state of late I had to have bacon and eggs. Two hours later we were home - exhausted but thrilled with the adventure.