Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Life offers all sorts of dilemna's which offer no easy solutions and which sometimes leave you scratching your hear. For example I have finally found a small part-time job as a library assistant- the catch is that I have to be enrolled as a student at the Gordon Tafe- so then I look at their course offerings and think ok I might do a women's access course-the course fee is $4916 including course materials and because I have a higher qualification there are no concessions ( I am a low income earner) so I have to pay it- the job will earn me less than what I have to pay so whilst I would dearly love some employment I think I am going to have to pass. This paying full service fee if you have higher qualifications is a new initiative of the government started last year- until then I would have been entitled to a concession as I am a job seeker. Some of the things I want to study were not available when I studied- for example desktop publishing- computer programming in my days at uni still involved punching cards and main frames the size of apartment blocks.It is all quite frustrating as living expenses keep escalating and our ridiculously high dollar is impacting on many a small businesses that rely on selling overseas.

Then there is the extraordinary amounts some sports people get paid- yes I know they train and sacrifice much , and it takes dedication, hard work and slogging it out. But for example on  Monday I went out to my brothers farm to cook for the shearing team of three, they were to shear 300 sheep that day. The temperature gauge reached 35 degrees celsius and they worked in a tin shed with electric equipment.This was one of the days a tennis player retired because of the heat ( and yes I know centre court gets hotter than the  stated temperature- but so does a tin shed) Two men do the shearing and the third does the rousting- ie sweeping, sorting the wool and packing it and filling the pens when they empty. I can tell you that to shear 150 sheep per man in one day is no mean feat. For a start you have to manipulate an animal which is not always happy about being shorn ( though I am sure they are happy afterwards), your waist and back is constantly bent at 90 degrees as you manoeuvre the animal around to get all the woolly bits, and then some sheep have very daggy  wool ( ie wool full of  crap), they have burs and lanolin, and you keep going until all the sheep are done. You get paid a very average wage and you can almost certainly expect to have back problems as you get older. So after watching the shearers in my brother's shed I was full of admiration ( in my youth we lived and worked with sheep as well) for these working men who can expect to work an 8 hour day in stinking heat in less than perfect conditions ( they tell me it's worse shearing in cold weather- because the conditions in a tin shed are cold and you stiffen up), yet what a reasonably good tennis player may earn is like lottery figures to them- yet they work just as hard if not harder- after all tennis players get a day off between matches and it's extremely rare for a tennis match to last  8 hours.Anyway if you ever wonder where your wool comes from just take a look at Dean ( in blue), Jack ( in red) and John ( in dark blue) doing their job- and they will never be "heroes"- just working men.

I love shearing shed though- the tin acquires all sorts of shades of grey and rust- the wood also colours depending on the exposure to lanolin and other elements.

Don't forget there is till time to enrol in my On-line Travellers' Blanket class starting on Feb 17!


thelmasmith said...

Dijanne, thank you, thank you! What a delightful flash back to mu childhood. Shearing day was always such an adventure for someone much smaller than the men who did the work.

It always amazed me that one fleece would hold together, get folded up, and then stuffed unbroken in a big, burlap gunny sack. Some people in the US call them croaker sacks. How is the wool packed to be sent to the spinners there?

As to lanolin, sixty years ago it was the one and only hand lotion that I had ever seen.

Love the looks of your tin barn. We never had fluorescent lights, just one dim bulb.

You are right about the hard work and little financial gain. We never thought about those issues then. But then, we produced a LOT more of our own needs.

Such is the way of the modern marketing model and all the pressure to buy, buy, buy. Do we really need all that stuff????

thank you, thelma

Regina said...

Dijanne, I have been thinking the very same thing about sports people and entertainers. It is ridiculous the amount of money they make!

Kim said...

Dijanne, I love your blog.
The word you want is
dilemma, plural dilemmas, no apostrophe

Lisa Broberg Quintana said...

Dijanne, I too grew up on a farm which raised sheep until I was about 11 years old when the meat/wool market fell so low we could no longer afford it.

Shearing is an amazing thing...if a sheep is on its back, it won't hoof touches ground and all bets are off!

We usually sheared in April I think and it wasn't as hot! 35 celsius! OHHHH MY!

Anonymous said...

I learned a long time ago that the ones working the hardest get paid the least. They are doing a magnificent job. I worked in the pet industry and have had plenty of times "shearing" a matted dog that really didn't want to be groomed and I feel for these men. At least I was in air-conditioning! Good luck on the job hunt!

Sally Westcott said...

Brilliant post Dijanne! Thank you!

It is tragic that re-trains involves stupid costs. There should be a time limit on higher qualifications!


Dawn of LaTouchables said...

What a wonderful blogpost! For me it is a meditation on work, and what it means to produce a good at the most basic level, and a whole lot more than just that---thank you!

Olga said...

Regrettably 'twas ever thus: value and worth are always akilter. Once folks have gone beyond need they will always spend any extra money on personal entertainment. Just as the crafts we sold most in the gallery where I worked in the US for a while were jewellery for the buyer, so also sports will always attract money. Just think of all those women spinning and weaving the flesh off their fingers so that the men could go out and lose all the earnings on cock fights.
It's noticing the glorious shades of colour on the the tin and wood of the shearing shed, and appreciating the whole sculptural and human experience which holds true worth and its value should be savoured.