YOUNG Charlie Dunn might be oblivious to the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in New Zealand this week.
But on enthusiasm alone, the five-year-old is behaving like a champion in the making, having already shorn his pet lambs with the mulesing shears.
The boy’s mother Donna O’Keeffe Dunn said her son and daughter Matilda, 8, are obsessed with sheep and farming. This week they featured in a home video now on the Fox and Lillie Rural website, with Charlie doing the shearing while his sister did the commentary.
“One night Clint was doing his grinding and Charlie had these two little pet lambs that he wanted to shear.
“We won’t let him touch the handpiece by himself, but he helps Clint when he does, and anyway he just found the mulesing shears and started doing it that way,” Donna said.
She said Matilda probably dragged the pet lambs out of the catching pen for her brother.
“She does the wool as well, they’re always together.”
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Donna said the two siblings have both won the Teddy Bear Shearing Competition at the Walbundrie show and her husband had just bought a new variable speed shearing machine that Charlie might get to use one day.
“He is hell-bent on learning to shear, so it might be a bit safer for him.
“Obsessed is not the word, I’ve not seen anything like it,” Donna said.
Charlie’s shearing talent is in the blood
Charlie and Matilda’s parents can also shear; father Clint is a professional shearer and has won a few shearing competitions. Donna admits she “just knows how to”, but is a trained wool classers and does a bit of roustabout work. Her brother Rodney O’Keeffe is also a shearer and she sees with Rodney similarities in her son.
“Rodney was just farm obsessed too.
“All Clint wanted was a son who would be a farmer and shearer and I think he’s got one.”
The Dunn’s farm at Culcairn near Albury, where they run 500 Merino ewes and 1500 first cross ewes, and do a bit of cropping on 800 hectares of freehold and leasehold country.
Donna said the children are always helping drenching, weighing lambs, feeding and drafting sheep, or helping out when the Dunns shear their lambs.
“Anything you do, he (Charlie) has to do as well.
“He can spend all day down at the sheep yards drafting a little mob of pet sheep and lambs – just doing it himself,” she said.
“He also makes a feed mix for the sheep; we’ve got six silos here and walks along each one, opens each chute and puts some in his wheelbarrow and goes along and puts it in the feeder.”
Charlie started kindergarten last Thursday, but his mum doesn’t think we will like school at all.
“All he wants to do is work and he won’t be able to get his jobs done at school.”