Home' Advocate Communications : Fiordland Advocate 17 January 2013 Contents Fiordland Advocate
17 January, 2013 | Page 17
Over the Boundary Fence
It was 3.15am; the alarm had just
gone off. I just managed to drag
myself out of bed. Where was I
heading? To Zlin, in the far east of
the country. It was about a four-
hour drive and I needed to be at
the “paddock” not the “shed” by
And what was the plan? Well, we
had about 1500 Romney ewes
lined up for belly crutching, three
days to do it with four shearers
and five different places to set
up the trailer and “holding yard”.
‘Easy’ you say, but remember this
is not your typical New Zealand
farming scene – anything is
possible. The sheep stay in the
field right up until we are ready
to crutch/shear them, they don’t
want them getting hungry you
know. On arrival I met the third
shearer in our gang, he was the
youngest and had learnt shearing
from one of the other shearers.
He was only doing it part-time, but
now has made it a full-time job. I
was the second oldest of the four,
that was a bit scary!
So the sheep were in the yard (one
big pen), the trailer was set up,
we hooked up the machines and
were ready to roll, then around
came a bottle, which I was not
sure what it was, but after a shot I
realised it was “slivovice” or plum
brandy, 50 percent proof stuff. I
soon gathered this was the normal
practice in the Moravian part of
Czech (they love their slivovice),
crutch for an hour have a drink
then carry on.
The first bottle was finished by
I only had three shots for the day
and that was enough. The next
day one shot before breakfast was
Anyway, those Romneys – there
were three farmers who had
the sheep, bloodlines from New
Zealand and the UK. Unfortunately
they looked like a 1983 NZ
Romney, so much wool on their
head they could not see, and wool
down to their toes to collect the
mud with. And BIG!
They were long and way too big,
us shearers were suffering, no
wonder we turned to the drink!
What we were doing was a full
crutch with lots of good wool taken
off above the tail, a half belly and
flank and an eye wig that included
taking lots more good wool from
behind the head so they could
read the tags at lambing time.
Then all this wool was taken to
the dump. We received 1.69 NZ
dollars per sheep and a little
towards the travel.
Now the weather, all this is
happening outside and luckily it
didn’t rain or snow, which the boys
said is not uncommon at this time
of year. But it’s all an experience,
that’s for sure.
I go back in the middle of March
for round two of crutching, and so
far we haven’t had much snow, so
Well I’m out of time I’m afraid,
next article is a day on the road;
tune in and see where it takes us.
Happy Ewe Year to you all.
Unfortunately the ewes looked like a 1983 NZ Romney, so much wool on their head they could not see, and wool down
to their toes to collect the mud with, and BIG!
John Barker is a former Southlander who previously
farmed at The Key with his father Maurice. He moved
to the Czech Republic in 2000 where he is now based
with his Czech wife Olina and their five-year-old bilingual
daughter Zofie. They have three horses of their own but
take care of eight in total, two dogs, two cats and 12
sheep. John teaches English twice a week, sells
souvenir photo playing cards and last year began
shearing part-time. This is part two in his series on living
– and shearing – in the Czech Republic.
Former Te Anau man John Barker pictured in the Czech Republic
demonstrating shearing of a Vresova sheep -- a mountain-type sheep with very
long and coarse wool.
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