Thursday, August 4, 2016

Shearing at Panui

Dawn breaks with a clear sky for our second visit out to Panui. 

The town of Matawai recently renovated their community centre. Many of the town residents have donated money toward it, and some fundraisers helped fund it as well. On Mike's farm this week it was crutching time. The very glamourous task of shearing ewes' bellies and backsides. Normally Mike would hire workers for the day to crutch all 1700 ewes, but for their contribution this time, neighbors and friends volunteered to complete the job, and the money that would normally have gone to hired workers went to the community centre renovations.

We had about 22 volunteers, an unexpectedly awesome turnout. 

Sarah and I had the easiest job: setting up tea and food every couple hours for their breaks. We did have to walk up and down a treacherously steep and muddy hill in the freezing rain with two dozen mugs, beer, and foods...but still easier than sheep wrangling. 

Brave smile, Sarah. You don't look cold at all.

Mike was able to get about 800 ewes undercover the previous day, before it started to rain. The first picture in this post is deceiving because ten minutes later the storm rolled in, temperature dropped, and the sky opened up. And all the dry people and sheep quickly became wet people and sheep.

"Baaa. We are nice and warm in our wooly coats, you poor humans."

This is me being cold.

Under the woolshed, depicted above, are all the nice and dry sheep. It is a lot easier to shear dry sheep, as you can imagine.

There were five shearing stations set up, and two people sort of tag teamed each other every few sheep since there were plenty of people helping out.

The sheep came in through the wooden doors, and then once all crutched....

Were pushed through the little doors under, down a ramp to the finished-sheep area back outside.

It is a very fun atmosphere.

There is also a job of sweeping the wool away from the shearing area to keep it clear and tidy. It's a rather swift job to manoeuver around them and not get in their way to hinder the process and flow of work.

I helped out on this part for a little while, since it's relatively simple once you get the rhythm of it. Once it's pulled out of the way, you have to sort the clean wool (usually from the belly) from the dags (bits of poo stuck to the wool).

The dry-sheep clean-wool pile gets to go right into the scale/compressor (actually pictured below) and the wet-sheep clean-wool, the huge pile here, has to be spread around to dry before it can get bagged up.

Ali and I got all the food ready and tea station set up for the break. Scones!! My new favorite food.

I noticed a number of the volunteers wore these...slippers? moccasins? I haven't got the story on them yet, but they all looked to be ancient and hardy creations. 

After a long smelly sheep day, I spent a while petting the farm cat because she was just oh-so-ignored alllll day.

The next day we picked up pinecones for fire fuel and I found these minuscule bright orange mushrooms growing on some of the pinecones. I haven't identified them yet. Pretty sure not poisonous?

On the other hand, this toadstool is very poisonous. So I just looked at it. It's about the size of an apple! Which is what I though it was when I spotted it. (Obviously fairies live around these trees.)

Almost every time I get into a car I have to think of which side to get in......

I think I warned you before, I will continue to take and post blurry lamb pictures until I can see some up close. SO CUTE. It's unreal.

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