Tough job, well done

SVEN HERSELMAN
Last updated 11:47 05/09/2012
Shearing
SVEN HERSELMAN

Chris Hammond's shed is a hive of activity as the shearers skilfully handle the sheep

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The shearing shed on Chris Hammond's Terrace Farm just outside Renwick may be 107 years old, and some of the machinery older than that, but it is still being used.

Chris invited the Midweek around while 600 sheep had their winter coats removed in the historic shed.

"It was originally a barn that stored animal feed, but was converted into a shearing shed in 1932," said Chris, who has moved from sheep farming to viticulture, but still keeps a small flock of sheep.

The sheep being shorn at his shed belong to Marlborough farmers Jeremy and Hayley Pitts, who had 4000 sheep to be shorn. "We will do 600 this morning, but we should be doing around 1000 a day. The rain has just been such a problem because the sheep need to be dry," explained Jeremy.

Three modern shearing stands were brought on to the property to help with the job, but within the old barn almost all the equipment harks back to the "good old days".

"The machinery that runs the shears was brought into the country from the UK where it was made by the Wolseley cars company in 1891. It was originally used on Langley Dale Farm before it was installed in this shed," Chris said.

The shed was a hive of activity as the shearers skilfully handled the sheep, removing their fleece within minutes. The wool then went to a skirting table where wool handlers removed impurities.

The wool classer was next in line, his job being the grading of the wool.

The wool is then put in a press and compacted into bales.

"This is also an old piece of equipment - we got it 20 years ago. These days the presses are mechanical, but this one requires manual labour to compress the wool. It's really tough physical work, and you need a big, strong guy to do it," Chris said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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