On the Land
It's a big shift for Jan Hartmann, 28, from being a sales agent in Germany for one of the biggest steel companies in the world, to shearing in New Zealand.
"For a lifestyle change at home I did a lambing beat and was also a part-time sheep dog trainer," he said.
"In November three years ago I left home, near the Black Forest in southern Germany for a lambing beat and some shearing in the Waikaka valley with Donald ‘Howie' Morrison."
Mr Morrison sent him to the Tectra shearing school for technique and skills help. He went on to press for Darrin Forde at Winton and Tony Michelle at Milton, staying with shearing judge Geoffrey Finch who gave him some private instruction.
"In March 2010 I competed at Masterton's Golden Shears, having only shorn 746 sheep till then," Hartmann said.
"I got in to the semifinal in the novice class, placed eighth out of 42, which was the most awesome and unexpected experience of my life."
Back in Germany he shore on lifestyle blocks with five to 10 sheep, hanging his machine in a tree and using a carpet as a board. His heading dog, which he took from New Zealand, helped catch the sheep in the paddock.
"Mostly the sheep are not emptied out or dagged and have nice long tails.
"I appreciate how farmers here present their sheep for shearing," he said.
In Germany he achieved fourth in the junior shearing, third in the open wool handling and won the cleanest shearing prize in Switzerland in an international competition.
When he returned here last November another Tectra school helped get his footwork and rhythm right to ensure bigger tallies.
"My best tally is 185," he said."
"I appreciate everyone giving me the opportunity to work here, especially Jock Martin, from Lawrence, who first let me shear a full day."
This time he has brought his girlfriend, Jana Juppe, an architect, who is enjoying working in the woolsheds. When he returns home in April he will organise his own shearing run in Southern Germany and Northern Switzerland.
"We have been welcomed here and I am enjoying renewing friendships, seeing shearers' development and meeting up with the Morrisons," Hartmann said.
"It was great they won the Glammies last year and I wish them well for this year's contest.
"I am going on the shearing competition circuit to improve my technique and also catching up with friends," he said.
"I just missed out on the junior finals at Northern Southland Community shears at North Range last Friday, but I am very pleased I got good quality and board points."
- © Fairfax NZ News