Sheep Week

Our fall is starting, the leaves are changing and there is the smell of woodsmoke in the air. Crisp morning air greets me as I step outside for my morning run.

Last week was shearing time for the 2300 lambs on the farm. It was a busy three days in the kitchen for me and my friend Tagget (whose family owns the farm) making sure all the shearers and rouseabouts* are fed well and taken care of.

Up at 5:30am so I could get in a quick run before sending Little off to school at 8am. Hopped in the car and headed down to the house the crew was staying in to prep for smoko** and the days lunch.

Waiting for a trim

Waiting for a trim

9:45am – Head down to the shed with the smoko basket filled with thermos’ of hot tea and a tin of biscuits. The shed hums loudly with the sounds of the electric shears, country music and bleating sheep. The air is filled with floating fleece bits and smells that sting your nostrils.

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That’s a whole lot of sheep!

10am – Smoko called out and the shed becomes very quiet. Shears are turned off, the music is turned down and the sheep seem to settle for a moment. Chat turns to catching up with one another since the spring and the first run’s count. It’s been a good morning.

10:30am – Smoko over, it’s back to work.

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They make it look easy.

10:45am – Back at the house to continue prepping lunch and supper.

11am – Tagget and I have our smoko, enjoy the sunshine while sipping on coffee and make plans to start a running group on the island.

11:15am – Lunch prep and clean up. Today we’re serving borscht with beets and cabbage pulled from the garden along with bread made by a neighbour in his outdoor oven.

12:30pm – Everyone from the shed comes in, cleans up and settles down at the table for lunch to load up on grub and chat about the morning run of sheep.

1:30pm – Clean up and prep for the afternoon smoko and get the turkey in the over for the evening dinner.

3:10pm- Kidlettes are home from school and put to work gathering firewood down by the shore.

3:30pm – Smoko repeat.

6pm – Shearing is done for the day and I head up to the shed with a basket full of beer, the most important delivery of the day.

7pm – Snacks set out, beer chilled and wine poured.

8pm – Dinner is on the table. Stories told, wine is flowing and the laughter is loud.

9:30pm – After dinner we head outside to sit around the fire relaxing and reflecting on the day. It’s been a long day filled with hard work and plenty of laughs.

11pm – Head home and fall into bed.

Rinse and repeat for the next two days. I can’t think of any place else I would rather be at this moment.

*- rouseabout – (often abbreviated to “rousie”), shedhands who pick up fleeces after they have been removed during shearing.

** -Among sheep shearers in Australia, “smoko” is a mid-morning break, between breakfast and lunch, in which a light meal may be eaten. Within New Zealand the term has generally altered to include coffee breaks and outdoor rests.

Meet Anita


I am a wife to a retired Army Captain and present day shepherd, a mother to two Big's (20 & 19) and one Little (6) and new to running at the age of 42. I am hopelessly addicted to Starbucks Peppermint Mocha's. My family thinks I am crazy. The voices in my head say they may be right.

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