• Wayne Perkins

Smashing Glass Ceilings

There is something about the shearing industry, that no matter what else you end up doing or how long you’ve been away, always seems to beckon you with “come hither” eyes.

Even now, ten years from when I last shore full time, I still feel the pull and can best describe it by paraphrasing one of Dylan’s immortal lines. “I gaze into the doorway of shearing’s tempting flame, and every time I pass that way, I always hear my name."

However, the spirit might be willing but the body is weak. My eyes are shot, my back is shagged (my fronts worse!) and my mind was never much chop at the best of times but it doesn’t stop a guy from dreaming.

So while my days of throwing that hunk of steel at a sheep are over, and I am now a shiny-arse office dweller, I find my interest and attraction to the industry undiminished.

And so it was that on Thursday 23rd January, sitting in my office with more things to do than you could shake a stick at, I found myself virtually glued to Shearingworldwide on Loser-book, following and watching the women’s 4-stand lamb shearing record.

I watched it because it was shearing and it brought back memories, the smell, the feel, the pain and not least the satisfaction of knowing, that when it comes to hard work, the shearing industry can hold its head high.

I watched because these amazing women from across New Zealand, working in arguably the hardest physical profession in the world, showed by actions rather than words, that girls could indeed do anything.

There has been much talk of late, especially in politics and business, about gender equality and glass ceilings.

Perhaps our country and indeed our world could take a look at the shearing industry where these women (and the women before them) haven’t just broken a glass ceiling, they have smashed the living %^$# out of it with sledgehammers, and rendered it unrepairable.

But I mainly watched because the daughter of a good friend, who I used to shear with, was shearing, and it was amazing to see her in action.

It seemed like one minute she’s this cute wee button playing with pink toys, and next, she’s popping lambs down the porthole with, what seems like, ridiculous ease and monotonous regularity.

I am really proud of all the women involved. It’s a fantastic effort and I hope they all get the recognition they deserve.

And I’m especially proud of this young woman and her Dad because I know a little of the story. When he was shearing, he had a heart like a horse and a mind like a steel trap, and watching his daughter shear proved that the apple never fell far from the tree.

She finished the last lamb, gave her Dad a big hug and it bloody near brought a tear to my eye.

Well done to all involved. You’ve done yourselves and the shearing industry proud.

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