‘Wide is his blow…’
“Click go the shears boys, click, click, click,
Wide is his blow and his hands move quick,
The ringer looks around and is beaten by a blow,
And curses the old snagger with the bare-bellied yoe…”
It’s very quiet in the shearing shed, the day before shearing. Especially on a quiet winter’s day where the light sparkles. It’s something special after almost a year of drought, to gaze out upon green paddocks and pasture beginning to grow…
The yard gates don’t rattle like shackles on a boat and one can hear the cockatoos and magpies, the kookaburras and plovers and far away in the further paddocks, one can hear an occasional sheep call.
Inside the shed, there is no sound of the machines buzzing, no radio blaring with music (Why the music, I ask? The crew can’t hear it anyway once shearing is under way.)
Just the sound of my broom as I sweep the last dust and strands of wool off the board and out of the shed so that the new clip can be baled clean.
The cups and coffee supplies are all lined up, the fridge is loaded with cakes and slices.
There are a few bales of lambswool lined solitarily against the wall.
The rams have been yarded because they too have to be shorn – it will be a relaxing day for them. Occupational Health and Safety rules state that rams must be sedated before shearing. Understandable really as one blow from the head and a shearer’s hip or leg can be broken or a cloven hoof can slice open a shin.
Outside there’s the sound of an ATV, the rams skitter and become excited as ewes begin to approach the yards. Slowly, (we work quietly and with little pace in order to keep the sheep as calm as possible) the yards fill up and before long the pens under the shed are full, along with the catching pens inside.
At 7AM the next day, the lights will come on, the urn will be switch on, the music will crank up (sigh), the machines will begin to buzz and the men will start laughing and joking, the paddles sweeping across the board as each sheep is shorn.
Another annual shearing will begin…