Four men hit the handpiece over the weekend in a gruelling 24-hour Shearathon, operating in a sweltering 30-degree heat.
The Shearathon took place at Masterton’s Spring Valley Enterprises Woolshed with about 500 spectators witnessing the four men – with help from volunteers and guest shearers – process 6,963 sheep.
Spring Valley Enterprises owners Lynley and Matt Wyeth said they would easily host again after seeing the community impact.
“Once those catching pen gates closed on that last sheep last night, the tears flowed,” Lynley Wyeth said.
At the end, she said people were bent over with sheer exhaustion, shedding tears of joy, relief and the pressure of the pain.
“The enormity of the event is still really just sinking in.”
Wyeth said people were easily awake for 24 hours to support the shearing team, which included 18-year-old farming cadet William Billing.
Many worked through the night, noted Wyeth, from the wool bail pressers and logistic coordinators to truck drivers from Martinborough Transport Ltd who helped to transfer mobs in and out of the woolshed.
She said there were volunteer farmers and guest shearers, including police and local businesses, engine room supporters and cooks and National MP Mike Butterick helping out.
Before the event, volunteers from Spring Valley Enterprises prepared quality stock to make sure the mob of 7,500 sheep were kept clean, dry, ticked and crutched.
Like the other shearers, event organiser and shearer, Dan Billing went through a six-month process to get shear-ready.
Billing said it took willpower to get through, and afterwards, he was humbled, feeling a bit tender, sore and stiff.
“There were some pretty dark times. Tough on the body, pretty tough on the mind.”
Although there were two air conditioning units and fans, he said it was almost 40 degrees where the sheep were kept when the sun came up.
“It was absolutely phenomenally hot. I don’t think I have sweated like that in a long time.”
Billing said farmers looked at tearing iron off the shed roof to create better airflow.
He was motivated by the determination to succeed and the cohort in the woolshed and was grateful for the supportive crowd and generosity.
Farmer and Shear4U wool handler Rebecca Buick said it was hard to watch her husband Mark – one of the four shearers – struggle mentally, but that she was immensely proud.
“He got to a pretty dark place at one point at about 5am,” Buick said.
“The nurses wanted to call it because he was that fatigued.”
Although he went downhill, Buick said he made it through with wrap-around support, nutrition and sleep and that their three children “are proud to call him dad”.
She said that one of their daughters had two hours of sleep and was on the broom during the entire event.
She said it was a big commitment for the whole family, who all stepped up to “keep the farm ticking over” while their dad was away.
About $80,000 has been raised from corporate sponsorship, auctioned goods and the Givealittle page.
This will be split between Rural Support Trust [Wairarapa], Farmstrong, and Gumboot Friday.
- Donations can be made via the Givealittle page Shear4U Wairarapa 2024, which closes February 4.