It pays to have a bit of a competitive streak if you’re a shearer, because you get paid by the number of sheep you shear; the more sheep you get through, the more money you get. This means that some friendly competition to increase tallies is pretty common in the shearing shed. In the early days of New Zealand shearing, that was all it was: friendly competition. But that friendly competition eventually morphed into something more formal, and New Zealand’s first proper shearing competition took place. Starting off at agricultural and pastoral shows in the late 1800s, those first competitions grew in popularity until we get to today, where the competition season runs from October to April, and consists of almost 60 official events. It’s taken so seriously that random drug testing of competitors is performed.
The biggest and most prestigious shearing competition in New Zealand is called the Golden Shears. Starting as a purely New Zealand competition in 1961, nowadays the Golden Shears attracts shearers from all over the world. In addition, New Zealand shearers regularly compete against shearers from Australia and the UK, in addition to entering overseas events. If you’re a regular winner of the Golden Shears you’re practically a rock star in shearing circles; perhaps the most successful competition shearer in New Zealand is a man called David Fagan, who has 16 Golden Shears titles, 10 world records, and numerous competition wins under his belt. It’s not for nothing that people call him a “shearing legend”. The video below shows you a few minutes of David in action:
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6Xgd5Df53s
This second video shows him competing in a speedshear event, against another NZ-based world champion named Dion King. They could not be more neck-and-neck if they tried (take note of the times):
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6P9uND0QG9A
The final judging of a shearing competition comes down to time, and also penalties. The judges are looking for high-quality shearing, they don’t want a fleece full of holes, or a fleece that contains bits that have been shorn in such a way they can’t be spun for yarn, or wool with skin attached. If your sheep gets away from you, or if you treat it roughly, you’re penalised; if you shear outside of the allotted times, you’re penalised; if you leave too much wool on the sheep, or if you cut its skin, you’re penalised; there’s a whole list of dos and don’ts associated with winning a title.
It’s not just shearing that’s assessed at these competitions, either. Wool handlers and wool pressers get a chance to strut their stuff as well, making competitions an all-round kind of way for the shearing fraternity to get together and spend the day trying to beat the pants off each other, and have a good time doing it.
Bottom Drawer Publications is proud to present Cutting Out by Meredith Shayne, a contemporary mm romance based in New Zealand.
A twenty-year veteran of the shearing shed, Aussie Shane Cooper loves his job, and the home he’s made for himself in New Zealand. If he’s a little lonely, he’s got good mates to keep his spirits up. When a hot, cocky young shearer named Lachlan Moore catches his eye at a competition, he’s content to look but not touch, knowing the young man is out of his league.
Lachie wouldn’t mind a piece of Shane, but the gorgeous gun shearer from Australia is soon forgotten when the Christchurch earthquake hits, and tragedy strikes Lachie’s family. Lachie deals with it the best he can, cutting himself off from all he knows. A year later and he’s back in the shearing shed, out of practice and lacking confidence. That Shane’s there to watch him flounder doesn’t help his nerves.
As Lachlan struggles to re-acclimatise, Shane can’t resist giving him a hand to get back on his feet. As they move from friends to something more, Shane finds himself wanting to know everything he can about Lachie. But Lachie’s got secrets he desperately wants to keep, and when things come to a head, those secrets might just mean the end of them before they’ve truly begun.
The e-book is available for sale for $5.99 via the BDP Digital Shop
and other online booksellers.
About the Author
A scientist in a past life, these days Meredith Shayne mainly uses her scientific training to poke holes in television pseudoscience. Originally from Australia, she moved to New Zealand to start a new life a few years ago and hasn’t regretted it for one minute, even if she frequently wishes that the New Zealand weather was a little better; if she’s forced, she’ll admit that the refreshing lack of animals that can kill you in New Zealand makes up for a little rain.
Meredith travels a lot, so much so that she has developed a shameful love of airplane food and knows her passport number by heart. When she is at home, she enjoys baking, horrible music from the 1980s, reality television, and gloating any time Australia thrashes the living daylights out of New Zealand on the sporting field.
Find Meredith at her website: www.meredithshayne.com