Remembering Colin Lindores
GROWING up in the bush was an amazing childhood, so many interesting and exciting things to do. The highlight of my year was always shearing time.
Our property went from a relatively quiet, tranquil place, to a hive of activity and more people than we ever saw on the place at one time.
The lead up to shearing was busy; servicing motorbikes, ensuring the working dogs were fit, mustering from bigger paddocks into holding paddocks closer to the shed, tidying up and watering the yards, trying desperately to get a miserable amount of couch grass to grow, and cleaning a year's worth of dust and spiders out of the shed and quarters.
As a kid, shearing could not come fast enough for me but I doubt my father shared my impatience.
Finally, the first day of shearing would arrive. Carloads of shearers would start rolling in, often we could hear them coming before we could see them, thanks to their boisterous dogs.
Unfailingly, one of the vehicles (the one with the loudest dog, Red) would turn off the road to the shed and drop in at the house.
We were always delighted when this happened; we knew it was Reedy McLeod. He always brought us kids a highly prized delicacy; a paper bag of mixed lollies.
Yes, the type of lollies that every corner store sold, back in the day where you needed both hands to hold 50 cents' worth. This treat would last us for weeks due to our self-imposed rationing system.
I loved watching the shearers, the rouseabouts, the penner-up, the presser, the cook, the boss, all going about their work like a well-oiled machine.
At every available opportunity, I would go to the shearing shed. A couple of fresh energetic kids were always welcomed at the yards by Dad, especially when he was drafting or the working dogs were getting a bit tired.
Like most bush kids, we had a poddy lamb; actually, we had hundreds of them throughout our childhood.
But there was one that was extremely special to us and we called him Sooky.
Without question, the most important ritual at shearing time was when we took our poddy lamb to be shorn.
Oh sorry, hang on; when I say 'poddy lamb' I'm talking about a rising six tooth wether.
He was no ordinary sheep, in fact he did not identify as a sheep at all. He thought of himself as a human or at the very least, a dog.
He was actually terrified of other sheep and would run towards the working dogs for protection.
Sooky was a huge, overfed, attention seeking, wether with an identity crisis; every shearer's dream.
The shearing shed was about four miles from our house so we had to take him in the back of the Toyota.
The upside to Sooky identifying as a dog meant that, despite his generous girth, he could jump up into the back; well that is what dogs do after all.
He often needed some encouragement and this is where the lollies from Reedy came in handy.
We would let him sniff the packet then put it up in the back of the Toyota where he would quickly jump up to follow the smell and we would give him one.
With a mix of excitement and apprehension, off to the shearing shed we would go.
The noise and bustle at the shed scared Sooky out of his wits; he would nearly knock us over trying to hide his big frame behind our skinny little legs as he stared at all the strange white freshly shorn creatures in the yards.
Dad would escort us to the shed door where the boss, Mr Lindores, would greet us.
Colin was a tall, authoritative looking man who was always bustling with efficiency and could discuss any topic at length without removing the rollie from the corner of his mouth.
When he smiled, his face lit up and he had a cheeky twinkle in his eye that put Santa Claus to shame.
Mr Lindores would have a chat with us kids, give Sooky a pat on the head and ask if we thought he would make AAA this year.
Naturally, we always thought he would.
As our fears were erased, Sooky's escalated.
Colin would march into the shed, scan up and down the board, pick his best, not always the gun but always the cleanest shearer, as the poor victim to shear Sooky.
I am certain that if it was not for the thumping Lister motor, a deep guttural moan would have been heard from that shearer.
Colin would lean in close and give what I can only imagine was explicit instructions and possible death threats to said shearer, he would then march back to us kids, remove the dog lead we had on Sooky and gently manoeuvre him along the board to the chosen shearer.
We would wait anxiously at the end of the board as Colin bent over the poor shearer muttering instructions during the entire process and shaking his head if there was one tiny cut. I only hope that shearer was paid double to shear Sooky.
Colin would then carefully escort a bewildered shaken wether back to us, call for a clean wool pack from the rouseabout, and skilfully roll Sooky's fleece and place it in the pack.
We would thank Mr Lindores and emerge from the shed with our much skinnier poddy, proudly toting his fleece which we would enter in the pet fleece section at the local Bollon Flower and Wool Show.
One year I think we actually won first prize.
I suspect that year there were not many entries, maybe only ours. Sooky's wool was what my father would refer to as 'coarse as hemp rope'.
For the record, Sooky did not come from our bloodline.
I am sure that many of the properties where the Lindores' teams shore had a poddy lamb that needed shearing.
I doubt we were the only shy, wide-eyed, bush kids that appeared at the shearing shed door with our treasured pet for their annual haircut.
It is funny what sticks in a child's memory but many decades later, I still remember the care shown by Colin Lindores to our poddy over many years.
With the many hundreds of thousands of sheep this man dealt with every year, he still made us feel that our fat, spoilt, overgrown lamb/ wether was the only sheep in the shed.
On behalf of all the poddy owners out there, who entrusted you with the mighty contract and responsibility of shearing our pet, thank you Mr Lindores.
May you rest in peace.