Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Book Review : "The Ringers stand" by Godfrey Bowen

A Tribute to Godfrey Bowen, co-founder of the Agrodome, and brother of Ivan Bowen who pioneered the Bowen Technique still used by shearers today.

In 1982 he wrote a fictionalized account of Sheep Shearing competition “The Ringer’s stand” the book starts off with “Old Sam was a contractor of 30 years standing and he really knew his shearers. He had employed them all – good, average and indifferent – and occasionally the no-hoper” so begins the story of the Ringer.  The Ringer must prove himself worthy of his reputation and proceeds to do just that, and along the way sending the previous No.1 shearer back to No. 2 with some resentment but also grudging respect for the Ringer’s clearly the better, faster shearer.

Throughout the story some Shearing slang is used, these are just a few:

“Strangers” – the neighbours sheep with their owners earmark

“Fleeco” – Skilled shedhand who takes away the shorn fleece

“Wet ewes” – Ewes suckling a lamb

“Fadge” – An incomplete bale of unpressed fleeces, oddments or pieces

“Strides” – Shearers trousers

These slang terms give the reader a clear picture of the shearing shed and what is involved in shearing 800 sheep a day! Not a place for the unfit and fainthearted.

A copy of “The Ringer’s Stand” is held in the Don Stafford Room, Heritage Collection on the 2nd Floor.

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