I had the opportunity whilst in Birchip to visit a farm, one of the four belonging to a family of brothers, giant men, each around two metres, living and working on properties which are almost comparable in size to some European countries.
On this particular farm that once numbered almost quarter of a million sheep, I had the rare chance of seeing a shearing shed that had stood to the blistering summer heat of the Mallee and the gale force winds in winter for well over one hundred and sixty years.
In this photo there is no shearing going on but procedures that I did not look at too closely (not at all actually) where the male lambs lose their masculinity and all lambs lose their tails.
On some of the posts and fences one can see names and dates etched into the timber belonging to only some of the countless shearers who had worked on the property during the shearing season and then moved on to other places and who had helped make the region prosperous. The earliest date I found was 1861.
Thanks to wikipedia for the information and lyrics to one of the iconic Australian songs about shearers.
"Click Go the Shears" (Roud # 8398) is a traditional Australian folk song. The song details a day's work for a sheep shearer in the days before machine shears. The enduring popularity of this song reflects the traditional role that the wool industry has played in Australian life. The song describes the various roles in the shearing shed, including the "ringer", the "boss of the board", the "colonial experience man" and the "tar boy". After the day's shearing, the "old shearer" takes his cheque and heads to the local pub for a drinking session.
The tune is an adaptation of the American Civil War song "Ring the Bell, Watchman" by Henry Clay Work and the first verse follows closely, in parody, Work's lyrics as well.
The second verse in the original 19th century song is as follows:
Click goes his shears; click, click, click.
Wide are the blows, and his hand is moving quick,
The ringer looks round, for he lost it by a blow,
And he curses that old shearer with the bare belled ewe.
The usual chorus of the song is as follows:
Click go the shears boys, click, click, click,
Wide is his blow and his hands move quick,
The ringer looks around and is beaten by a blow,
And curses the old snagger with the bare-bellied yoe.
Difficult photo to take due to the dark interior on one hand and the very bright sunlight coming from clear windows.
Critiques | Translate
swapankumarroy (2807) 2014-08-19 0:56
Hello Dear Klaudio,
You narrated and very nice and interesting article and got an opportunity to visit a farm in Birchip where almost quarter of a million sheep were there. Very well position where you shoot it, good light and shade, color is very natural.
with warm regards,
Royaldevon (28379) 2014-08-19 3:13
I find your photograph and your notes of great interest!
The photograph is amazingly well composed, to grab the details of the shed and still to focus attention on the farmer (come surgeon) as he 'operates' on his flock.
The mixed lighting conditions must have been quite difficult but you have coped extremely well.
The notes add much to the photograph!
Have a lovely day,
abmdsudi (41936) 2014-08-19 3:39
You've found a very nice subject, much tidier and indeed spotless looking historic shearing shed, and the atmosphere has produced an interesting effect conveying age of the structure very well with a character of it's own. I love the depth and perspective too. Enjoying your lengthy write up especially about those pioneer shearer I can only imagine if only those posts and fences could talk - I bet there were some wild times here in the past and in the adjoining shearer's huts - great atmospheric shot and thks for sharing. Congrats
timecapturer (47420) 2014-08-19 5:55
I love this! It is like we are peering into someone else's world and I suppose we are. The depth and sense of intrigue are irresistible, but it is the light and detailing that do it for me. Superb imagery!
Regards - B.
ifege (10223) 2014-08-19 7:53
Woolshed are always tricky to photograph because of the variable light and burnt out bits where bright light gets through. You've handled it all well for a good photo.
Gerrit (46846) 2014-08-19 11:21
great composition with asll those wooden elements and a great capture of the light in the background,
lousat (74955) 2014-08-19 13:57
Ciao Klaudio,l'atmosfera di questa foto č davvero magnifica,mi ricorda molto la mia infanzia in campagna.Sembra davvero un'immagine di altri tempi,ma colta con una esposizione e qualita' impressionanti,grande profondita' dei dettagli e colori naturalissimi!! Complimenti per il post molto originale e buon Martedě,Luciano
SnapRJW (30685) 2014-08-19 23:13
A very interesting note Klaudio.
What I like best about this shot is the atmosphere, you have managed to convey the feeling of a darkish space lit by strong sunlight where it spills in through the open doors and chinks in the old barns fabric.
A super shot that illustrates Australia's long history of sheep farming.
Nicely managed with the shearer and his sheep picking up some of that light I mentioned.
willperrett (6632) 2014-08-20 2:39
In many ways an iconic Australian photograph, or at least of a largely bygone Australia. I wonder if you know the film "Sunday too Far Away"? Here's some info if you're interested.
kasianowak (5872) 2014-08-21 3:08
Very interesting, I've never seen a photo of a shearing shed before.
Your note makes me wish you could upload an audio file but it's nice to at least be able to read the lyrics! :-)
dekanski (2886) 2014-08-21 13:48
ovog puta nota me je više impresionirala od fotke, fotografiju sam doživeo samo kao ilustraciju priče.
Pozdrav i želim ti lep vikend.
delpeoples (52897) 2014-08-26 4:59
Shearing sheds are such fantastic subjects, but sadly they are becoming a rarity. So this photo is a real treasure. I like the low light and the inclusion of the man tending the sheep. The warm wooden tones and play of light and shade is exquisite. If you are ever near Toowoomba in Queensland, there's a wonderful old shearing shed at Jondaryan.
Hope you're keeping well, thanks for sharing
jean113 (609) 2014-09-06 10:27
Hello Klaudio,we get a really good impression of the shearing sheds from your chosen point of view.
The light is well managed, it cannot have been easy.
Good timing with the presence of the man and the sheep.
tulipan7 (668) 2014-09-17 14:00
The Thorn Birds was the first thing that came to my mind after I saw this photo... Shearing sheds haven't changed all that much - or so it seems from this picture - since 19th century and that song...
Nisam veliki obozavatelj okvira pa iako mi ovaj ne smeta posebno mislim da bi mi se slika vise svidjela bez njega - s druge strane, nisam bas objektivna po tom pitanju...