From the Archives: The Shearer

Later today Sue Blacker will be here to talk about shearing processes. We felt that we couldn’t possibly preface this with anything else but The Rapping Shearer, AKA Adam McClure. We first shared this back in 2015 and Wovemberists just loved it. Here it is again for your enjoyment.

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WOVEMBER are super excited to have discovered the talents of The Rapping Shearer AKA Adam McClure. Adam is a shearer in Western Victoria, Australia. He is available for work in June, July, August and you can download his amazing rap “The Shearer” from this website. For today’s WOVEMBER WORDS which commences the Harvesting Wool segment of WOVEMBER we thought we would elaborate on some of the specialist shearing words included in this informative hip-hop classic!

The Shearer

Wake up keen at 5:30 in the morning,
You’ve already got your dungers on,
Put on a pair of woollen socks,
You know you’ve lost it now…
You know you’re a shearer.

I’m a Wether-wrestler,
A cross-bred peeler,
I’m the duke of the Downtube:
A hand-piece steerer,
I’m the boss of the belly,
A shornie engineer,
They call me King of the Comb –
Or you can call me a shearer…

I love to shear sheep, 7 days a week…
And when I go home, I dream about it in my sleep.
I get up early out of bed to be early at the shed,
The sheep’ll never beat me – I’ll be shearing til I’m dead,
‘Cos not only I am keen, but my hand is quick and clean,
My gear is hollow ground – the sharpest thing you’ve ever seen,
So when I come to shear your sheep, you better get a good night’s sleep,
You’ll be pressing so much wool that the press’ll start to creak…

I’m a Wether-wrestler,
A cross-bred peeler,
I’m the duke of the Downtube:
A hand-piece steerer,
I’m the boss of the belly,
A shornie engineer,
They call me King of the Comb –
Or you can call me a shearer…

Sweet Blow! Sheep, Oh! Smoke, Oh!

I’m first on the board at every shed that I have shorn,
When the clock hits 7:30 then I start to perform,
Whether dragging out a wether or shearing something better,
I pull that cord down into gear and you can see me shearing clever,
‘Cos my comb is always full I keep it flat and in the wool,
I change my carder often so it never starts to pull,
‘Cos I’ve got a hundred cutters and just bought a new handpiece,
And you can watch it zoom as I’m peeling off a fleece…

I’m a Wether-wrestler,
A cross-bred peeler,
I’m the duke of the Downtube:
A hand-piece steerer,
I’m the boss of the belly,
A shornie engineer,
They call me King of the Comb –
Or you can call me a shearer…

Sweet Blow! Sheep, Oh! Smoke, Oh!

You know when I finish a day’s shearing?
That’s still not enough for me.
I go home and do my grinding,
and then I eat some chops for tea!

There’s more prickles in my hands than any other man’s,
And I drink a lot of cans ‘cos I shear a lot of rams,
I talk shearing form and flow with other shearers that I know,
And when I mow the lawn, I put it straight in perfect blows.
I wear my dungers to the shops, they’re the only pants I’ve got,
I think that that’s alright but my missus says it’s not,
but before I go, there’s just something you should know,
Get your rousties at the ready when I call that sheep, Oh…

You know they say there’s something like seventy million sheep in Australia?
Well what do you reckon? Let’s have a go… we’ll get ’em!
Run no. 1, we’re gonna shear a ton,
Run no. 2, we’ll be putting out a few,
Run no. 3, we’ll shear a lot of sheep,
But after run no. 4 we won’t shear any more.

I’m a Wether-wrestler,
A cross-bred peeler,
I’m the duke of the Downtube:
A hand-piece steerer,
I’m the boss of the belly,
A shornie engineer,
They call me King of the Comb –
Or you can call me a shearer… (x3)

– Adam McClure, AKA The Rapping Shearer

Glossary

Belly – the sheep’s belly has the dirtiest and least valuable wool and is usually the place on a sheep’s body where shearing begins
Blow – the correct term for a shearing stroke
Board – the floor on which the shearing takes place in a wool shed
Comb – used in conjunction with cutters and hand-piece to cut fleece
Cord – the electronic cord that powers the hand-piece
Cutters – the toothed blades on a hand-piece that – together with the comb – cut fleece
Downtube – a tube hanging from a shearing motor to drive the hand-piece
Dungers – contraction of “dungarees”; appropriate shearing attire
Hand-piece – Machine shears known as hand-pieces operate in a way similar to human hair clippers; power-driven toothed blades (see Cutters) are driven back and forth over the surface of a comb (see Comb) and wool is cut from the sheep
Hollow ground – a reference to well kept equipment; shearing equipment must be kept sharp through regular grinding; circular grinding equipment leaves a hollow impression; read more here
Peeler – Australian slang word for sheep shearer – example usage here “Peel the woolly overcoats off those monkeys!”
Rousties – shed hands or assistants to the shearing process who throw the shorn fleeces, clean side down, on to a wool table for skirting and sorting
Shornie – Australian slang word for a newly shorn sheep
Sweet Blow – a well executed stroke of shearing (see Blow)
Wether – a castrated male sheep
Wool Press – machine used to compress wool into bales
Wool Shed – a farm building specifically designed and designated for the shearing of sheep

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