THE millionth sheep shorn by veteran shearer Trevor Kearns on Friday didn’t look that much different to the very first he took the fleece off 45 years ago. Perhaps it was a bit bigger.
However, the 64-year-old whisked his handpiece around the fine merino ewe in a fraction of the time he took for that first one.
Mr Kearns, from Dereel, started shearing in 1969 and from day one kept a record of how many sheep he had shorn.
As he neared the million mark this year, he arranged to pass the number at The Meadows, a fine wool merino property near Rokewood owned by Tim and Julie Bingley.
“I never had a million on my mind until about 10 years ago but then it became a goal,” Mr Kearns said.
“When I started I wasn’t thinking about one million sheep. It was about getting through one week, then one month and then a year. I got better at it the more I worked.
“I can remember that first one. I have a twin brother, Norm. Our father took us up to the shed and made us both shear our first sheep. It took us half an hour.
“I can now say between the two of us we’ve shorn more than a million sheep. He might have contributed exactly one to that total.”
Mr Kearns said the reason he still shears is because he enjoys doing it. At the height of his powers as a gun shearer he was shearing 200 sheep in a day. That has dipped back to up to 160 a day.
He prides himself on how cleanly he does it even more so than the impressive numbers.
“Age has brought me back to the pack a bit,” Mr Kearns admitted.
“It is easier now because of the wide comb. But the sheep have got bigger over the years too.
“I make sure I stay in shape. I eat properly and I exercise.
“I want to shear full-time for another two years and then do it casually after that. I still feel young.”
In addition to a million sheep, Mr Kearns has shorn many goats and five alpacas. However he still prefers sheep.
“Goats are much harder. They scream and move about and complain more,” he said.