Life on Lemon Acres

Published date08 February 2023
"I started shearing for contractors when I was aged 15, then when I was 17 I went up north of Gisborne for a bit and then over to Australia. I did two seasons in Aussie and then I was off to the States

"Basically I did two trips around the world, following the shearing seasons, Australia, USA, England and so on. Australia had mainly merinos, and in the States a type of merino called Rambouillet, the merinos have a finer wool, while over in the UK there's a bigger variation and range of open-wool sheep

"I lived in the States for about five years, living in a Winnebago motorhome going round Wyoming, Colorado and Montana - all of it cowboy country.

"I even got married over there and had a house, we were married for 22 years but Mary passed about eight and a half years ago.

"On the Coast here there are mainly crossbred sheep, they are more like Perendale and Romneys.

"Nowadays for the shearing, I just do the Greymouth area. I used to go down to Ross and up as far as the Barrytown area but I don't do that distance any more.

"I have been here about five years now," Brent says, referring to his home of Lemon Acres, 10 acres of peaceful idyll far away from traffic and noise.

Lemon Acres, near Kaiata, is a pastoral landscape of lush paddocks full of late spring grass, waving in the breeze under the sprinklings of trees.

Here, Brent runs 22 sheep with their 39 lambs, 2 alpacas - Betty and Wilma - Max the dog, and three aviaries of birds: cockatiels, canaries and budgerigars.

A softly spoken man, Brent built his covered shearing trailer "about 2008" and covered about 5000km a year as he took his services to wherever they were needed.

Large stations with mobs of sheep, kitted out with woolsheds had been usurped by the lifestyle block boom of the 1990s and 2000s and the smaller runs and flocks didn't always have the proper facilities.

"I was doing the sheep on lifestyle blocks and it just got too hard, so I built the trailer.

"l've been doing those blocks for about 20, maybe 25 years now."

Nearby, in a shady shed there are a mob of lambs - with some token black coats and spotty one breaking up the white fleeces - and the two alpacas.

Max is barking at the impending shear: "He gets a bit excited" says Brent, and maintains a constant cacophony through the shearing session.

For today's job, the shearing trailer is hooked to a long extension cord to power the shears, but for on-farm visits, a small generator sits above the drawbar.

Built into the trailer, a small holding...

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