Veteran shearer paces himself
SHEARING is more than just a job for Jack Taylor.
The wool industry has been the place where he has made his living, formed lifelong friendships and it has even provided holiday work for his five sons when they were going to school or university.
The 59-year-old Charleville local says he has no plans of stepping away from the shears any time soon.
With more than 40 years experience, Jack has seen the number of sheep in his area slowly diminish, learned to adapt with the improvements in shearing equipment and watched the industry evolve.
The only thing that has remained the same for him is the wool producers his team contracts for.
"There are a few good sheds I have been going to for years, and I will keep going back to,” he said.
"They are the same families I have worked for all this time... so now it's the second generation coming into it - they were kids when I started working for them 30 years ago, and now they have their own kids.”
Allister and Narelle Webb from Warrego Park are one of the families Jack has been working with for decades.
Jack said it's the hardworking and dedicated people who are part of his crew that makes his work so enjoyable.
His team includes five shearers, three wool handlers, a classer, a presser and a cook.
"I wouldn't do it if I didn't like it,” he said.
"I enjoy going back and working with the same team every year.”
Jack has earned a reputation for being the kind of man who always wears a smile, even after the hottest, longest, and hardest days.
But he laughed off this comment.
"I still have the odd bad day,” he said.
"But you just have to keep going. We all knock off and have a beer after work together, that helps when you all get along.
"And I don't really shear those big numbers any more. I mean it's still hard work, but I would only shear about 140 or 150 if I can.
"Where I used to shear 200 a day if the sheep were good.”
While the industry is fiercely competitive among shearers, Jack's best advice for those new to the sheds was to try and avoid racing other people.
"You need to learn to shear at your own pace, don't try and race other people and knock yourself around,” he said.
"Just work at your own pace, still work hard, but don't try to overdo it in the heat.
"I have seen a fair few young good shearers burn out.”
Jack first learnt to shear when he was working as a jackaroo after leaving school when he was 15.
He said one of the biggest industry changes he had noticed was the improvement in training for young shearers.
"When I learnt, you more or less had to teach yourself, we didn't have the shearing instructors and the shearing schools people get today,” he said.
"Some of the older shearers used to teach you a bit but, you know, apart from that you taught yourself.”
Nowadays, Jack wouldn't travel more than 200km to woolsheds and only shears about three or four months of the year.
During the other months he works for his brother, Ross Taylor, who is a contract fencer, building exclusion fences and cattle yards.
Last week they were working in Charleville redoing the tennis court fencing.
Jack's family has always been heavily involved with agriculture and rural industries.
"Years ago our shearing team was the Taylor Brothers,” he said.
"But they have all gotten out of it now. There were a lot more sheep around back then.”
In more recent years Jack's sons all took turns working in the business as well.
"They all used to work in the sheds when they were going to university and that. Even when they were at high school they worked in the sheds in their holidays,” he said.
Although all of his sons have now moved on to different things, Jack feels they enjoyed their time in the industry.
"I guess they wouldn't have come out if they didn't like it,” he said.