Lessons from the Shearing Shed

Blog headers

Shearing Wisdom: Life lessons from the shearing shed

It's the eve of our final day of shearing, and it feels like we have been shearing forever, even if it's just been a month (with a week and a few days off here and there). For us, shearing is all hands on deck. My roles vary from getting sheep in, helping drafting (my 9 year old is a gun drafter), roustabouting, and probably the most important one - making sure everyone is fed. When I was working full time as a psychologist, I used to daydream about quitting my job to work in shearing sheds for a while. 

I’ve had 2 days back in the office (or roughly 5 hours, once I take house clean up, general jobs and school time into account), and probably about 2 weeks worth of work to catch up on. So, I asked Chat GPT to give me a hand with writing this article. It turns out Chat GPT is a little more witty than me, so I’ll save their(?) response for the end, and instead take some time while the kids are mowing the lawns to write this week’s article.

As I mused across the last few weeks, I thought I’d share 5 lessons we can all learn from life in the shearing shed.

  1. The Team
  2. Rest and Rhythm
  3. Music and Joy
  4. Fueling our Body
  5. Letting go of the prickly bits

The Importance of the Team

While the shearers may like to consider themselves “king” in the shearing shed, there is no denying that shearing doesn’t happen without a team. As I worked side-by-side with my husband, our 3 kids, 3 shearers, and 3 roustabouts - I reflected on where we started. 16 years ago, my husband pretty much did his shearing himself. Then I began to help at times, but as our sheep numbers grew, so did the need to grow the team we have around us. 

Life is no different. Yes, there are times where we can do it alone. But as the saying goes “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.

Everyone in the shearing team plays a vital role. Without the shedhands there would be no sheep ready in the catching pens. Without the shearers, the wool wouldn’t be shorn. Without the classer and help with wool skirting - all of the fleeces would get thrown together, bringing down the value. And, without the cook - no one would have the energy to do their jobs.

So it’s 100% a team effort. 

This year for my own business, one of my aims has been to strengthen my own team. And I am absolutely thankful for the wonderful Claire Harris, who is doing an amazing job in taking my notes and content, then creating the little rocks emails and monthly updates, which sound just like me! Our home team also includes our cleaner who comes once a week. 

Sometimes you need to think outside the box of who or what you can add to your team, to help everything flow that little bit easier.

Photo of metal stencils for marking wool bales

Routines and Rhythm

One thing I absolutely love about shearing time is the rhythm, routine and consistency. Farming life has a whole lot of unpredictability - but aside from the chance of rain at times - shearing is consistent and predictable. 

7.30-9.30, 30 minute break. 10-12. 1 hour break. 1 -3. 30 minute break. 3.30-5 (or 5.30 with gentle encouragement). 

We all know what’s expected and when. 


When you know how a shearing shed is working, you can walk in, drop off the food for smoko, and if there are still 10 minutes left you can take up a role and slot in. 

What’s also vital in the routine and rhythm of the shearing shed is the time allocated for meals and rest. Everyone in the shearing shed pauses and morning, lunch and afternoon smoko. Yes, there are always some extra jobs to do to make sure the shed is ready to go for the next run. But that pause is vital. 

Every lunch time, the shearers especially will lie down, flat on the floor, for at least 20 minutes.

The pause and rest is crucial for their bodies. 

But, I wonder, what would the difference be if we implemented the same work and rest routine and rhythm into our day to day life outside of shearing?

I know I find it hard to pause when there is work to be done. But, sometimes that 5 or 10 minutes lying flat on the floor can give that blissful pause, ready to start again.  


Joy and Music

Ok, I’ll admit, the music blared in the shearing sheds is not always the most appropriate. But shearing and working hard without music. Well it’s just hard. Having music to help power through the day is something that I’m sure helps the shearers get through the next sheep and the next. We can use this in our everyday life as well. Spotify has done a fairly good job of getting to know me, so I now have a collection of “morning” “evening” “saturday afternoon” playlists, to help me to power up, or wind down, or just find joy in the mundane every day jobs.

Side note - it was a bit of an age reality check when music from my late teenage years blared and I realised that when I was 18 a couple of our shedhands were only just born…


Fueling your Body

I definitely don’t embrace my inner “farmer’s wife” at shearing time. As life has become busier over the years, the food I provide has become simpler and simpler. And yes, I often embrace a shop bought cake. 

The overall nutritional value of ham and cheese (or fritz and sauce) toasted sandwiches isn’t great, I’ll admit. But pausing three times a day is important. Lunchtime meals are usually a slow cooked meal, and veggies, protein and carbs help to charge up the batteries for the afternoon ahead.

Again, when we are outside of the routine of the shearing shed it can be easy to forget to have a decent meal at lunchtime. Or even to just pause for a mid-morning snack, and not just a chocolate biscuit from the cupboard.

Taking the time to fuel your body, whether you are working in the shearing shed, charging through bookwork and office jobs, or mustering children - is an important step that we can’t forget.

Don’t hold tightly to the prickly stuff

Skirting the fleece is often one of my jobs in the shearing shed. Unfortunately due to the country we have, the fleeces often come with a variety of prickles. You soon learn the art of not holding to tightly to the prickly bits. It’s an art of holding firmly yet lightly - separating the fleece wool from the shanks and pieces. 

Life is filled with both the prickly and the soft. We can learn to gently but firmly hold on to what helps us, and let go of what doesn’t help us. When the prickly or painful thoughts and feelings show up, see what happens if you acknowledge them, hold them lightly and then choose to let them go? Rather than grabbing hold of them and letting them define your perception of reality. 

What lessons have you learned from the shearing shed?

Whether it’s the simplicity of teamwork, the value and satisfaction of a bone-weary body at the end of the day. As much as part of me is exhausted as we finally reach the end of shearing time (for a couple of weeks before we start shearing the lambs), I also let it go with a gentle fondness. It really is a season on the farm that I truly enjoy, prickles and all.

As always, take care of you,


Do you get Little Rocks Weekly Reminders - make sure you sign up. 

Sign up for weekly reminders


p.s. If you'd like a giggle - here is ChatGPTs version of this blog - it didn't quite capture my "vibe"

Title: "Life Lessons from the Shearing Shed: Wisdom Straight from the Farm"

Hey there, folks! Gather 'round for a chat about some down-to-earth life lessons we can snag from an unexpected spot: our good ol' shearing shed. Yep, that's right, that place where the wool flies and the sheep get their fresh look. So, grab your cuppa, kick back, and let's dive into what the farm has taught us about life.

  1. **Team Power, Y'all**: Picture this – shearers working side by side, like a finely tuned machine. Just like that, life gets a whole lot smoother when we team up. We've got our crew on the farm, and in life, having a support squad can help shear away troubles and make victories even sweeter.
  2. **Routines and R&R**: Ever noticed the rhythm of the shearing shed? Shear, pause, recharge, repeat. Life works kinda the same. Setting up routines and giving ourselves some well-deserved downtime can prep us for whatever's next, just like the sheep getting ready for another round of clippers.
  3. **Groovin' with Music**: Now, let's add some beats to the scene. Music's like the secret ingredient that turns work into a party. Whether it's in the shed or in life, cranking up those tunes can transform any situation into a rockin' good time.
  4. **Nom Noms for the Win**: Think about it – the energy these shearers put in needs some serious refueling. In life, our bodies are like the shearing shed's clippers – they need some quality fuel to keep buzzing. So, don't skimp on those healthy eats, folks!
  5. **Ditching the Thorny Bits**: Okay, so we've all dealt with those prickly wool fibers, right? Life's got its thorns too – tricky thoughts and emotions. The trick is acknowledging them without letting 'em take the reins. Like shearing, it's about handling the tough stuff without getting snagged.

Wrapping it up, the shearing shed isn't just about sheep makeovers and woolly chaos. It's like a school of life, teaching us about teamwork, routines, good vibes, taking care of ourselves, and dealing with the not-so-pretty bits. So next time you're on the farm or tackling life's challenges, remember the shed's buzz, the camaraderie, and the transformation happening right under your nose. Stay awesome, friends!


There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!