Shearing is a tough gig at the best of times, and the usual eight-hour workday can be a battle, so imagine shearing the equivalent of three days straight.
- Three men shear 2,822 lambs in 24 hours to raise money and awareness about autism
- The shearathon is expected to raise close to $50,000
- The money will go to special schools in Warrnambool and Stawell
That’s what happened in Warrnambool on Friday and Saturday, when brothers Corey and Brody Mifsud, and their dad Roger shore close to 3,000 lambs in 24 hours, in an event appropriately dubbed 24-Hour Shear Madness.
The trio embarked on their titanic feat at 12 noon on Friday, and finally put down their handpieces at 6:30pm on Saturday.
They shore in two- and three-hour blocks, with half hour and hour breaks in between, shearing all night to defy mental and physical fatigue.
So why did they do it?
The Mifsuds didn’t push themselves close to breaking point for the fun of it – they did it to raise money for a dear cause.
Corey, whose three-year-old son Levi is autistic and has ADHD, conceived the event to raise awareness of autism, and funds for the special schools at Warrnambool and Stawell.
Corey said many people had a lack of understanding of autism.
“Probably one of the main driving forces was that when you’re out in public with these kids and they do have a meltdown or something like that, there is a lot of judgement from people,” he said.
With donations still coming in after the event, the family are optimistic about the final total.
“We’ve got the donation to come from the farmer for shearing his sheep, but we’re hoping the final sum will be perhaps $40,000 or $50,000,” Corey said.
It’s not the first time Corey and his dad have shorn for 24 hours – in 2018 they shore 1,542 sheep to raise thousands of dollars to fight muscular dystrophy after family friends lost a son to the disease.
How did they do it?
The final tally of 2,822 crossbred lambs exceeded expectations, and there was a last-minute dash by a livestock truck to bring up some more lambs to keep the shearers shearing.
Brody, who hasn’t shorn regularly for five years and only hoped to pass the 500 mark, shore 734 lambs, while Roger shore 1,041 and Corey just edged his dad to register a final tally of 1,047.
It was a reversal of the result in 2018, when Roger, then 52, held his son at bay by a figure of 32 lambs.
“I was worried about him, he had a scare at 9pm on Friday night – he lay down for a rest and couldn’t get back up, so we had to call in a chiropractor to come in and straighten him out.”
It’s hard to understand how they were able to shear at such a consistent rate for so long, particularly given they shore more per hour than they would in just eight hours.
“Essentially we worked for three days straight averaging over 300 a day, and usually I struggle to shear 300 a day on a normal day’s work,” Corey said.
“It was bloody tough, but I think it was the incentive of doing it for the kids and raising as much money as we could to better their experiences at school.”
All hands on deck
There was a team of about 40 helpers involved in the shearathon to bring the sheep up, handle the wool, cook food and provide entertainment for the gathered crowd.
Corey said the camaraderie from those helpers was especially important as they shore through the night.
“It was strange to be shearing in the middle of the night, but we had a team of six boys out the back penning up and they’d had a few sherbets to keep them going and they kept us up and about,” he said.
“And the team on the floor, the girls roustabouting, they worked through the whole 24 hours so they’d be just as buggered as us.”
When 6:30pm Saturday finally rolled around, Corey said he enjoyed a drink and took a moment to reflect on what they had achieved.
And as for the money raised – well the number one priority is a new basketball court for the Skene Street Specialist School in Stawell.
“We do hope that Levi can attend there not next year but the year after and experience hopefully what we’ve helped them build,” Corey said.
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