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Beyond the Bale : June 2018
T0002 - A4 Print beyond the bale FA.indd 1 15/5/18 2:15 pm THERE’S A PENGUIN IN MY PADDOCK! ON FARM 57 Shearing and wool handling can provide the opportunity to travel, compete and work overseas, as well as around Australia. Louise Fletcher from near Cooma recently took the opportunity to work in the ‘woolshed at the end to the world’... Louise Fletcher, whose parents run a sheep and cattle property ‘Fentonville’ at Eucumbene, west of Cooma, has recently returned home after working as a wool handler in the Falkland Islands for five months as part of a six-stand contract team made up of locals, Aussies, Kiwis and a few Poms. Louise has been around wool her whole life and while she is currently studying in her 3rd year of Agricultural Science at Charles Sturt University, she still works in woolsheds on her days off. She is also half way through undertaking a wool classing course. “Australian shearers and wool handlers have a good reputation internationally for their skills and work ethic, and I was invited to go to the Falklands by a shearer who works in my local shearing contracting team,” Louise said. Sheep and wool are an important part of the Falkland Islands’ economy – a ram has featured on the coat of arms and the flag of the Falkland Islands for the past 70 years, and there are more than 150 sheep for every person there. The flock of 490,000 sheep are a Corriedale type; recently the local farmers have been crossing them with SRS Merinos from Australia. Louise warned that working in a shearing and wool handling team can be just as hard work in the Falkland Islands as it is in Australia. “The shearing team worked from six am to six pm, six days a week to make sure the sheep were all shorn within the limited timeframe allowed for animal welfare in such a wild climate – it was always windy and often blowing at gale force,” Louise said. “The shed I worked in was ginormous. It could hold about 4,000 sheep. “Although there are no formal requirements for wool preparation in the Falklands, in the shed that I worked there was a great attention to detail because the wool classer had an Australian stencil.” Louise said the Island community love their sheep and host regular shearing competitions. “I took on the island’s best rousies in the major wool handling competition at the Falkland Shears and came out the winner after defeating several world championship contenders!” Louise said the Island locals were a cheerful bunch and more than happy to invite the visiting workers in for Christmas lunch, New Year’s parties and farm tours. The town of Stanley, which is the capital has a population of around 2,000, and regularly hosts cruise ships. The British military has a base in the islands which also has its own population of about 3,000. Getting to and from the Falklands involved a flight from Sydney to Auckland, Santiago to Punta Arenas in Chile then a hop across to the islands. The pilots are well versed in handling the wild and windy conditions although the return flight was delayed a day due to “exceptionally” windy conditions. Louise is back studying at university in Wagga Wagga and is looking to be involved in the genetics and artificial breeding industries when she completes her studies. But she looks back fondly on her time in the Falklands. “The trip gave me valuable experience and a chance get a firsthand look at farming techniques in another country,” she said. “Having shed skills certainly provides great opportunities to travel.” Louise Fletcher also had the opportunity while in the Falkland Islands to learn the basics of shearing. A local Falkland Islands’ farm with sheep and penguins living together.
In the Shops - September 2018