What would a trip to New Zealand be without mention of sheep!
Sadly I have only seen them in paddocks or in shearing sheds but I would have loved to have come across some random farmer moving a flock while I was driving but seemingly not to be this trip. Have to say though – sheep are really skittish creatures. You drive anywhere near a cow and they just stand there. Sheep though are another story. Just parking the car on the side of the road is enough to set them all racing across the paddock. Maybe they know they are New Zealand’s national dish and the butt of many a joke and that makes them nervous.
The farmer I met yesterday was having his sheep shorn. I asked if he would mind if I had a look and sure enough it was not a problem. It seems they were crutching and removing the belly wool in preparation for winter. Apparently too much wool under the belly can create problems in the snow when it all balls up (not sure if that was the wool or the snow but it sounded serious). Also it means that they can shear the whole animal in winter and the mummies to be will have enough wool on their tummies to keep the babies warm inside.
The mountain range where I came across this shearing feista was in light mist and in the time it took me to go and play around in his backyard photographing the old buildings the shearers had called it quits. I seems that the wool was too wet and shearers hate wet wool. Too hard to shear. Not sure how many of the 1,000 head they got through (normally about 6 hrs work for a gang of 3 shearers) but the farmer was happy enough. Seems that as the day was cancelled he was off to the pub. A man after my own heart!