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Beyond the Bale : March 2018
SHEARING RUNS IN THE FAMILY For Kevin, shearing runs in his blood: his father being a shearer before him, his brothers are shearers, and now his nephew Ethan has taken up the hand piece. Last September Ethan took out the Novice Shearing Competition at the Perth Royal Show at just 16 years of age. To qualify for the competition participants must have shorn no more than 5,000 sheep in their career – Ethan had only shorn 400. Ethan’s talent is evident, and he says his passion for shearing stems from the role models in his family. “My uncle [Kevin] put a hand piece in my hand when I was four,” Ethan said, and his grandfather reinforced Ethan’s passion for the industry when he took Ethan – a then eight-year-old – to England, tucked him under his belly, and helped Ethan shear a Jacob sheep. Since then Ethan has travelled with his dad and uncle to America and with his grandfather to England and Latvia throughout the Australian winter – the shearers’ off-season. Setting his goals high, Ethan plans to compete in the novice competition at shows for the next couple of years while he finishes school and then tie in travel with the job. “Everything I can get I take, and take it in so I can get better and better,” he said. “The most important things are footwork and positioning, keeping your comb full and listening,” Ethan said, keeping in mind the advice imparted by his family. Ethan has started to lend a hand at Kevin and Amanda’s shearer training courses and says more of his mates, even a few older ones, are starting out in the industry as they see that it’s a good opportunity where they can progress and be their own bosses. FEMALES TAKING UP SHEARING Over the years, Kevin and Amanda have had many types of shearers come and go through their courses and what Kevin’s seeing now is a shift in demographic. He says that, in the past 20 years, girls have dominated across the board in wool handling and classing and now they are branching out into shearing. He says girls are not as strong physically but they “dance around the sheep a lot better than boys or young men” and they’re easier to teach too – they listen better. Because they can’t rely on brute strength their footwork and technique has got to be spot on, so the training courses prove to be a gold mine of knowledge for aspiring female shearers. Amanda is one such example of how females can excel in the wool industry. Amanda learnt to shear about 10 years ago but started her wool industry career when she was a teenager. Her father, a wool classer, would take her out on the job through the school holidays and she landed her first paid job as a wool handler at the age of 14. This is where her passion for wool started. She is now a professional wool classer and wool handling trainer alongside Kevin. “My main aim is to give students as many tools in their back pocket to help them through their career,” Amanda said. “And it’s important for the kids to understand why we do it – not just teaching them that you’ve got to do it.” When Amanda had learnt all the other skills of the industry she thought she’d try her hand at shearing. Now a qualified Level 2 shearer trainer, Amanda says that “you never stop learning”. Sometimes when there’s a few females in the course who aren’t confident on having a go at shearing, Amanda will jump up on the stand and show them how it’s done – and if Amanda can do it then they’ll have a go too. “Whether I’m shearing or wool classing, you’re just one of the team. I don’t see it as being male and female, it’s an equal playing field,” she said. This attitude which Amanda brings to the shed and the training courses helps build confidence in young girls and they learn to assume this attitude themselves. Ethan Gellatly (centre) with his grandfather Rodney (left) and father Trevor (right) at last year’s Wagin Woolarama during which they competed in the novice, senior and intermediate divisions. Kevin Gellatly training student Danielle Mauger, who is now working as a shearer. AWI shearer trainer Amanda Davis shearing at a Ladies’ Invitation at the Corrigin Shears in WA. ON FARM 61
In the Shops - March 2018