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Beyond the Bale : March 2012
1818 SELLING MORE WOOL September 2010 BEYOND THE BALE R FAST FACTS l Attracted by the money, the opportunity to the travel and the lifestyle, young people are starting to look at shearing and wool handling as an attractive career option. l Three generations of the Artridge family are shearers and shearer trainers. l Cultural barriers between woolgrowers and shearers are breaking down as the industry becomes more professional. March 2012 BEYOND THE BALE 18 ON-FARM Three generations of Artridge shearers and shearer trainers: Kaleb, Peter and Stan. With strong and stable returns from sheep, younger people are now starting to look at career opportunities in the woolshed again. The observation may be against the grain of the widely held belief that there is a shortage of shearers but it comes from a family who should know. The Artridges have not only three generations of shearers, but all three are involved with shearer training as well. “After the drought, people are starting to move back into sheep because they offer a more stable income. With this comes the interest in shearing and wool handling from those young people on the farms and country areas. At the recent shearer school in Hay for example we had 18 students; it was almost too many for the one school,” Peter Artridge said. As a trainer with Riverina TAFE and National Sports Shear judge, Peter travels the country far and wide speaking with young shearers and shedhands. While he says there are enough for now, he is concerned a strong lift in the national flock could lead to a genuine shortage. “ I’m yet to hear of any sheep with two years wool on them. Sure, they may not all be shorn exactly when the woolgrower wants them and we get plenty of people saying they can’t find shearers, but they are all getting done. You might have to wait a week or two but the sheep all get shorn,” Peter says with a look of someone who has dealt with the question many times. It’s a relevant topic given the training and retention of shearers and shedhands continues to be an issue woolgrowers around the country bring up with AWI. At just 23, Kaleb is perhaps the closest to the issue. Having turned down two apprenticeships he chose to become a shearer like his grandfather and his father, and like the two previous generations he has registered to become a shearer trainer. “ I took up shearing for the money, it’s as simple as that,” Kaleb said. “ If you are good enough and work hard you can make heaps of money and travel with it as well. I’ve been to Ireland, New Zealand, America and all states except WA. You meet great people, have a great lifestyle and can do what you like on weekends, pretty hard to beat really.” Peter’s father Stan started shearing in 1947 as a 15 year old after always dreaming of becoming a shearer, in fact he used to shear the fluff from quinces as young boy. Eventually Stan earned enough to purchase his own wool-growing operation at Ruffy in Victoria. Peter followed this and also bought a property through shearing and has lived in southern NSW with wife WOOLSHED GIVES FINANCIAL START Three generations of Artridge shearers and shearer trainers: Kaleb, Peter and Stan.