How do you earn your Kolsch ? Shear


How do you earn your Kolsch ? Shear

The d’Espeissis family farm in Eagle Bay has been with them since 1950 when their Grandfather Jean d’Espeissis purchased the farm from the Keenan family. The shed & sheep yards were first built in 1964 and then updated in 1970.

Flocks of sheep have been roaming through our property since then and once a year, every spring shearing time is upon us. Meet Rod, Allan & Brett, they have all sheared and graded wool on The d’Espeissis farm at various times since 1970.

Rod & Allan, both in their 70’s have been shearing for 50 years, throughout WA and Australia and New Zealand. Brett has been shearing since he was 15 years old throughout WA.

Brett says “We generally shear for most of the year. In the south west we will shear flat out from September until Christmas time, then after Christmas we head inland to Cranbrook and shear there flat our until April”.

“We also have sheared in WA’s north and New Zealand over the years ” Rod says. “And a lot of Shearers from New Zealand would come over here to work – but with Covid there was a decline of Shearers in WA and Australia, making it tricky for farmers to get their shearing done.”

Rod says “There has been a lot of innovation that has gone into shearing education and technique over the last twenty years”.

“Shearing skills and technique that are taught now revolve around how to shift the weight distribution of both you and the sheep. This makes things easier on the body and allowing your joints to last a little longer, especially your lower back. Then also the Shearing slings aka the Warrie Back Aid is the most innovative thing that’s happened in the shearing industry and in my time. Designed to help the lower back and such a simple device, nothing high tech, no silicon chip, it’s just three springs and it work’s”.

Brett says “Along with the Hydraulic Wool Press and Shearing Wide Comb – both also pretty innovative making huge changes to the efficiency of harvesting wool”.

Over the years Rod says there has always been an issue with a lack of qualified Shearers, with also COVID highlighting that more so, but in WA we now have lot’s of young Shearers coming through.

Brett says “Rylington Park Institute of Agricultural Training and Research, located near Boyup Brook has a Shearing School. The property was gifted to the Shire of Boyup Brook in 1985 by the late Eric Farliegh for research and training in agriculture and the betterment of the area.”

“The Shearing School is free – and you learn how to Roustabout also. I learnt how to roustabout and shear on the job, and I got more competent as I would work all year round. But It’s great young Shearers have the opportunity to be taught these skills in a school environment before heading out into the work force full time”.

“Generally you learn how to roustabout first, which is assisting with preparing the sheep for shearing in the pens and picking up the fleece after the sheep is shorn. Then you progress to learning how to shear, and from there you can learn how to Wool Class. There are courses to learn how to Wool Class at Tafe, which you can do on-site or remotely” says Brett.

A day of shearing at our shed’s generally kicks off at 7am, with a coffee or tea in hand setting up for the day – then full speed ahead from 7.30am onwards. Our flock of sheep are gathered and moved into the two shearing pen’s, the Shearers shear the wool off each sheep, the roustabout’s pickup the wool, sweep up any excess wool, press the wool and help move sheep into the shed. When the wool is thrown out across the table the Wool Classer pick and sort the wool and class the quality of the wool.

The team for shearing are our farmers, two shearers, one roustabout and one wool classer who generally do ten hours a day – with a lunch break in-between, but not a beer in sight until everyone has worked together and finished what needs to be done at the end of each day.