All Under The Place, 31 August, Mullewa

It was Cel’s 18th birthday today, so after a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” over breakfast (the first of many) we set off on the drive to Mullewa. Once there we hooked up with a sheep shearer called Greg who was tasked with teaching us the tricks of his trade for the main event. Cel and I were due to compete against each other to see who could shear a sheep the fastest, and neither of us had realised how complex this was going to be. After two brief lessons we were quite bamboozled by it all.

The contest was held in a barn with a stage at one end, a bar down the side and tiered seats for the enthusiastic crowd (who really seemed to know a good sheep shearer when they saw one). I was up first, and luckily Greg was able to come up on stage and talk us through it. Thousands of years of breeding seems to have made sheep respond exactly how you would want in this situation. Greg picked mine up, plonked it on its bum, shoved it between my legs and it just sat there throughout the whole thing, letting me manhandle it as I guided the electric shears around its body, trying not to cut it or myself.

It wasn’t the fastest shear by any standard (the professionals were getting them in at around 40 seconds!) but I seemed to do a half decent job, and Cel nicked his sheep when his turn came, so I was declared the winner.

The evening was all about celebrating Cel’s birthday, so we took him out in the town of Geraldton and somehow managed to find a pub playing the Man City match, which he was over the moon about. How weird that, in years to come, when anyone asks him what he did for his 18th birthday, he can say “I sheared a sheep”.

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