Federation drought, rabbits, Windy woolshed.

Federation Drought. Rabbits got through the rabbit proof fence in 1897, now breeding on Warrah. The fence was built years in advance knowing that rabbits were coming.

Building and then using Windy Woolshed.

Fairbairn to Gregson, 6 January 1899.


We are having considerable trouble with Eagle-hawks which are far more numerous than I have known them to be for years.  On the plains they are attacking the wild turkeys and wallabies and as numerous dead turkeys are to be seen the assumption is that they are killing them.  While the lambing lasts I am offering 2/6 a piece for heads.



 Fairbairn to Gregson, 5 June 1899.


Our rainfall for the past month amounts to 1.44 inches, 74 points of which fell yesterday and today.  The weather now appears to be thoroughly broken and the prospects of much more rain to follow could not be more promising. The run was again beginning to assume a droughty and barren appearance, nearly all the clover shoot induced by the April rain had disappeared under the action of sun and frost, and a precarious growth of thistle was our chief stand-by.  The horehound has been kept eaten close by the stock, therefore but little expense has been incurred in cutting it, there is however a shrub known to Science as "Pimelea Pansiflora" belonging to the Daphne family growing over the plains which I think we ought to devote some attention to.  It is a native plant of long standing and during the past twelve months has spread very rapidly over the best of the country.  Although acrid, the Botanical Director informs me it does not appear to be poisonous, but it is full of fibre and stock do not often eat it.  I am having about 3000 acres of this shrub cut by way of experiment!  it seems to be easily and quickly cleared and from what I know of it, its eradication should not be a very expensive matter if spread over a period of two or three years.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 6 July 1899.


With reference to the vacancy at present existing for a storekeeper and Book Keeper on Warrah Mr Humble, who is temporarily performing the duties, has expressed his willingness to remain permanently if the Company will Restore his former salary viz. £120 per annum, are you willing to agree to this?  Personally I should be pleased to give him the appointment as it would relieve me of an immense amount of worry especially now that the shearing is approaching.  I am satisfied the Company has suffered considerable loss during the last few years through the delinquencies of the Store keepers, as an example of which I may state that the shearers' beef account last year was fully £60 less than I had anticipated and this is only one Example of many.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 23 October 1899.


The weather conditions for the past month have been most exceptional for the time of year, hot and cold winds alternating with a temperature ranging from frost up to 90 in the shade.  Nearly all the fruit crops in the District have either been destroyed or seriously injured, and the farmers have suffered much


Shearing.  The operation of shearing is progressing satisfactorily, and the number to be shorn is reduced to six days work, therefore with the assistance of fine weather we should finish this month.  The months work amounts to 70,823 which brings the total number shorn to date up to 140,854 - 2479 bales of wool have been pressed of which 2467 have been dispatched to Newcastle. The total clip will not be very far short of 2800 Bales.



 Sisson to Gregson, 20 January 1900.


I am in receipt of yours of the 17th inst. dated from Mount Wilson.

Since I last wrote we have had a return of hot dry weather, which has considerably counteracted the effects of the late rain, though some improvement in the Run is noticeable especially in the timbered country.

No stock has been shipped since Mr Fairbairn left, as everything is thriving.

In accordance with the arrangement for dispatching the Cross Breds to market, Messrs Pit have secured 13 Sheep Vans, which are being loaded to day for next Mondays sale at Homebush.  They are a very fine lot and should bring satisfactory prices.

Mr Bramma arrived here last Monday and left next day.  He handled the Sydney Sale Rams and Show Sheep.  With respect to the former he still complains that they are not strong or gross enough.  Six of them were culled.  The Show Sheep gave him more satisfaction especially the Ewes which pleased him immensely. 



Fairbairn to Gregson, 24 September 1900.


Our rainfall since the date of my last report amounts to 90 points, made up of light misty showers sufficient to seriously interfere with Shearing operations without doing much good to the run. The plains are very much overgrown with variegated thistle, in fact so much so as to render the use of a mowing machine necessary to give the sheep access to and from the Shed.  The mountain country is covered with a nice green, shoot which the present moist character of the atmosphere is stimulating, and most of the principal watercourses are fairly well supplied with water.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 24 September 1900.


In reply to your letter of the 19th the quarter day arrangement had nothing to do with the strike and was simply fished out at the eleventh hour by Con to suit the Case.  Mr Humble had every right to make the men finish their half day but put it to them that it was inconvenient for him to find work that they should call the few minutes they had worked, a quarter, and remain idle but pointed out that if they preferred the half day they could turn up after breakfast.  One of them did turn up and got his full day.  This was fully born out by Pitkins Evidence.  There has been too much made of this "Warrah Strike" altogether and I will be very backward in taking any more Cases into Court, because I find they only serve the purpose of enabling outsiders to cast stones at us and pose as being very self sufficient and wise. The rouseabouts did not cause us to lose any time whatever, the shearers are the archoffenders and their grievance is that they are not allowed to make big tallies on heavy sheep.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 10 November 1900.


I have just (12 noon) had a telephone message from Mr Ogden stating that the Doctor had examined Mr Blake and in addition to a severe shaking, had found one of his arms fractured below the elbow.  The doctor has set the injured limb and recommended his being sent to the Quirindi hospital in two days, and I have instructed Ogden to carry out the doctor's wishes.  It appears  that after leaving the Brown Ridge fire the party including Mr Blake, started to gallop home, leaving Ogden in the rear and when in the timber the former ran foul of a tree some short distance, from the Horse paddock gate.  He was subsequently conveyed home in a cart.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 16 December 1900.


Sheep.  Shearing.  This important operation was finished on Wednesday the 12th inst. having occupied 17 weeks and 2 days including 21 days lost time.  This is the longest Shearing on record and apart from the fact that it has necessarily had the effect of throwing the whole Station's work out of Gear the loss on the Clip from trefoil burr will be more than I am present able to say, but will I feel sure represent a larger sum than the cost of adequate facilities for gathering in the clip within the proper limits of time.  Various influences have contributed to the delay and amongst these may be mentioned the quantity of daggy wool we have had to contend with, owing to the luxuriant growth resulting from the rains in July, making the sheep hard to shear and producing thereby discontent amongst the Shearers with whom, I regret to say, we have not been on the most amicable terms.

Our present shed contains stands for 50 shearers but as two of these do duty as gangways only 48 are available and although we have endeavoured to make room for 12 more men by stowing them away in what the shearers ironically term "Duck Houses" the assistance to the work from this source is small.  Now in order to shear 200000 sheep within reasonable limits we require room for 100 shearers and as provision cannot be made for this number without dismantling the old buildings, the most economical course to adopt it to build a second shed at The Pine Ridge "Windy".  This would of course involve extra cost of carriage on the wool but the outlay would be considerably counterbalanced by saving in droving and hardship to the Sheep.

The total number of sheep shorn is 179076 consisting of 34389 lambs and 144687 grown sheep.  From this we have pressed and dispatched 3431 bales of wool returning a nett weight of 1433879 Ibs.  It will therefore be seen that the clip is an exceptionally heavy one.

The condition of the wool was very satisfactory up to the end of October but since then it has been more or less injured by clover burr.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 22 December 1900.


I am in receipt of your letters of 19th and 21st and now enclose dimensions of the wool room and sweating sheds.  As to the latter they have not worked satisfactorily and whether the same plan is adopted or not the internal arrangements must be altered.  We want a covered yard that sheep can be rushed into quickly when thunderstorms are about without knocking the sheep about and constructed cheaply of iron and split-fencing.  I do not know what plan you are using but care should be taken to have the best obtainable and the present shed is altogether unworthy of imitation.  You have the plans of Haddon Rig and Pullaming Sheds which one considered fairly good sheds but I am informed that the "Milo" shed in Queensland, is very hard to beat for convenience and I am applying for a plan of it which I have no doubt I will be able to let you have in January.  I enclose a rough sketch of this shed from memory as it has been described to me.  I cannot say anything about the catching pens without first observing the plans of the floor you intend to adopt, but care must be taken in arranging them so as not to hamper  the work of penning up, and the shearers should only have access through one door. Of course I am alluding to the individual pens.  These doors should also be rigged with patent spring fastenings shutting automatically.  Drops in the floor levels seem to me to be mere matt.ers of expediency to be avoided if possible.

Mallon thinks an attempt should be made to have all the floor joists the same thickness and 3 inch x 6 inch is in his opinion the right size, provided there are sufficient bearings and sufficient bearings should be provided to assure a firm floor.  If however an unsupported span of anything like 15 feet is a necessity, the dimensions you give are not too large.  2 inch x 5 is a good size for rails, but grating battens should be 1 1/4 x 2 1/2.  I think we can get all the timber required from Pine Ridge and Round Island, if not we must only endeavour to haul it from Harrisons.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 30 December 1900.


Your letter of 27th with plans of woolshed duly reached me and I am now returning the latter.  You have surely made some mistake over the space allotted to shearers, Else why have you drawn a plan of a floor 200 feet long for 60 stands?  The Old floor is 63 feet long and accommodates 25 men, you are arranging at the rate of 100 feet for 20.  I may state at once that a floor 200 feet long, as you have designed it, is impracticable and will never answer. I am not very favourable to a central floor under any circumstances but if we must have one you can shorten it considerably, having the space for every two men cut down to 6 feet 6 or 7 ft at the most.  This might involve either 3 or 4 men catching from 1 pen which would not be a great drawback.  I notice you are arranging for boxing the men in by erecting boarded cabins with 4 feet walls round them which can only have the result of interfering with the work of the rouseabouts and depriving the shearers of light and air without any corresponding advantage to anyone.  If this is carried out I feel sure the Company will be put to the expense of pulling it down again?

I sent the plans to Mallon yesterday for his perusal and have enclosed his remarks. Also his answers to questions I put to him. You will notice he makes a strong point of having the floor pitched high enough to enable men to get under to clean.  This want of access to the bottom of the gratings has always been an annual source of expense in preparing for shearing time.



 Sisson to Gregson, 27 January 1901.


Yours of the 23rd duly to hand.  We have experienced very hot drying weather since I wrote last.  Mr Bramma arrived on the 24th and left on the 26th.  He handled the Sydney sale rams, Quirindi sale rams and show sheep, He says the Sydney sales are the most promising lot we have ever had, more style about them, he culled 15 out leaving 27, the 15 has been put with the Quirindi sales, and  he culled 31 out of the Quirindi lot leaving 81, he likes them very much, although they are very dirty with clover burr, he could not find any he could recommend to complete with Goonoo Goonoo, without selecting from the Sydney sales or show sheep.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 30 January 1901.


Before leaving Warrah I wrote you that I had been promised a plan of "Milo" woolshed.  This has now reached me and I send it on to you for what it may be worth.  I notice the race round the catching pens is 6 feet.  This seems to me to be too narrow but probably there is good reason for it.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 11 February 1901.


The month under review from January 15th to   date has given us but 32 points of rain, and as some of the hottest weather   on record has been experienced the effect on feed and water has been extremely   severe.  All the surface water is shrinking very rapidly. Black Creek is dry. Phillips Creek, although containing a little water in places requires the assistance of every well along its course, Some of which have not been in use for 15 years.  Yarramanbah is also receding to the South Boundary necessitating the bringing into use of the ancient Yarramanbah Well in Martins Island paddock. Pump Station water has receded to the paddock of that name and threatens to dry up altogether.  To meet this difficulty I am having the well on the South Boundary put in order with 'the view of throwing the water into the Creek, should the surface supply at this point give out, which it assuredly will, if present conditions continue. McDonalds Creek is more promising as are also all the Creeks on the eastern side of the Cattle Lane,

Improvements - In view of the projected new Woolshed at Windy arrangements have been made with a Sawyer to cut the quantity of timber required, and the work is now in progress.  Owing however to the length of time the Sawmill has been idle considerable delay has been experienced in getting the plant into working order and a good deal of valuable time has been lost in consequence.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 3 March 1901.


I find that the list of timber sent by Mr Menkens for the woolshed, works out over 150,000 superficial feet.  Fo this quantity we have some 50,000 feet sawn, and as the capabilities of our mill cannot be reckoned upon to average more than 10.000 feet per week, it seems to me that we shall have to get  the floor timber for the covering sheds elsewhere.  This means sleepers, joists and and gating battens.  If you agree with me in this the timber should be hardwood and the   gating battens should be 2 x 1 3/8 half rounded.  Half round battens are not very much more expensive and always keep clean, whereas the flat timber entails much labor in cleaning and is sure to stain the sheep more or less when they are scouring, which they generally are in Spring.  In any case neither the covering sheds nor huts can be commenced at once.  1 shall be away early tomorrow morning but will leave this open so that Mr Humble can put the list of timber required, in.

A Contractor named "Cowan" came up from Newcastle last week to see the covering sheds, and plans of woolshed.  He told us that he erected the new shed at Belltrees and gave great satisfaction and as he is a substantial looking man I rather hope he will get the woolshed contract but I want McNair to have the covering Sheds if possible and in any case I would like the contracts separate.  You wrote me some time back that the approach to the Woolshed would not belong to the latter, and I mentioned this to Cowan but I now see that it does.  Unless therefore Cowan noticed it his tender may not include it.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 11 March 1901.


The weather has continued hot and dry throughout the month, and only 82 points of rain have visited the station viz 35 on the 5th and 47 last night.  Good rains have however fallen to the north of us, and the indications generally favor a change at no distant date.  The fierce dry heat of the Summer has naturally had a depressing effect on feed and water, but the bare country is thickly covered with clover burr and other dry stuff all of which afford food, and the good effects produced by the storms in December have not yet disappeared. I do not therefore feel in the least alarmed about the wellbeing of the stock, all of which, with perhaps the exception of the Hoggets, are in good thriving condition.  The prospects of the Breeding Ewes create no uneasiness in my mind, because force of circumstances has put the general lambing back till June.

 By the end of next week we shall have relieved the Run of over 20,000 fat sheep and 500 head of Cattle, at prices which a few years ago would have appeared incredible.

Rabbits.  I regret to state that indications point to the increase of rabbits which are beginning to establish themselves in the melon holes along the creeks on the open country at Windy.

A burrow has been dug out on Phillips Creek containing 19 rabbits and from personal observation I am convinced that there are a good many more.  I have instructed Mr Ogden to have the ground searched and any suspicious holes dug out, but we want a couple of experienced rabbiters, if they can be obtained, to systematically trap and poison.



Fairbairn to Gregson.  8 April 1901.



The contractors for the New Woolshed at Windy are now at work and the enormous quantities of sound timber required at short notice have taxed our resources to their utmost limits.  We have however been able to cope with the difficulty and this part of the work is nearly completed.

The Company's Saw Mill was unable to supply the Sawn Timber in the time allotted to it, and we were in consequence compelled to place 100,000 feet with the Narrabri and Curlewis Mills which entails haulage from Quirindi, a distance of 25 miles.

Teams to do this work were forthcoming but difficulty has been experienced in getting the Mill Proprietors to supply the timber as fast as they agreed to.


In my last Report I alluded to an apparent increase of rabbits at Windy. Since then Mr Ogden has been diligently digging out the melon holes but although unmistakeable indications of the holes having at sometime been occupied were met with, only a couple of live rabbits were found.  The work however is still being persevered with.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 19 April 1901.


"Von Nida" is a Single man and is at present boarding with Sisson, and as Sisson purposes going to Newcastle for a week on Monday next, you will be able to have a talk with him about him.  I like Von Nida's appearance and manner, in fact he is a rather superior sort of man, but of course I have had no means of judging as to his Capabilities. My arrangement with him is to build quarters for him, when convenient, and allow him £60 a year until such time as he proves himself of more value.  He may be able to sort the Clip. I intend to write to Mr Grubb concerning him.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 13 May 1901.



Good progress is being made with the erection of the Woolshed at Windy and I am very hopeful that the work will be completed in the time allowed by Contract.  The prospects of the Mens Quarters and Covering Shed are however not so flourishing.  The Contracts for these are not yet taken nor is the timber cut. The capabilities of all the Mills were tested to their utmost in supplying timber for the Woolshed and timber for the Subsidiary buildings had necessarily to remain until this order was Completed.  However four Mills have the work in hand and Tenders are being invited-for the erection of the Buildings.




Fairbairn to Gregson, 3 June 1901.



The new Windy Woolshed appears to be progressing satisfactorily, but we have experienced some little delay in getting sawn timber cut for the subsidiary buildings. All however, with the exception of the boards, is now either drawn, or at the railway station, and Mr Cadell expects to be able to get it all, or nearly all, delivered at Windy this week. The contract for the erection of the Shearers Rouseabouts and Officers Quarters was taken by a Mr Shedden of Hamilton, who now however writes me, that in consequence of his inability to get carpenters, owing to the great demand existing for that class of labour, he has decided to relinquish the undertaking.

W. B. Rixon of Quirindi has signed Contract for the erection of the Covering Shed, the price being £153.00.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 3 June 1901.


 Your letter of 1st reached me this morning, Mr. Kemmis is copying the plans and has promised to let me have them almost immediately, but as you will see by the enclosed letter from Shedden he wants to throw up the job and I don't think we can gain much by forcing him to work against his inclination. Neither do I care to pander to Mr. Menkens.  He has already informed me that he would not supervise work laid out by another architect and this answer  I accepted as final.  We want Carpenters, not architects, to assist us.

I have let the shed to Rixon and will endeavor to get the other buildings done locally provided, you decide not to enforce Shedden's agreement.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 1 July 1901.

(Written from Hotel Metropole)


Mr Pitt and I agree that the announcement of a reserve would damn the sale and we have therefore decided to put a buyer on, probably Mr J. B. Christian, to bid up to the reserve without allowing Weaver to be any the wiser. This of Course means paying Commission whether a sale Comes off or not.  I went to the Showground this afternoon and saw the Sheep put into the vans safely. Mr Dempster, a famous old Western Australian whom I have met in Sydney, is Coming to Warrah with me accompanied by his daughter.  As he tells me he may want rams soon or later  I am introducing him to Messrs Pitt.  I have purchased a Sociable from Messrs Angus and Son for £95 to carry six passengers. The price seemed to me high, but I am informed that this kind of American vehicle is not to be obtained cheaper unless you buy them second hand.  The weather is miserably wet.  I will return on Thursday.

McNair agrees to erect the Cottage at Old Warrah for £33 but cannot Commence for 3 weeks.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 9 July 1901.


I went out to Windy yesterday and fixed the sites for the machinery according to the plans.  Rixon will probably put in the logs but there is no Chance of our getting brick in time.  According to plan the dumping press is placed 23 feet from left hand wall of wool room, looking towards shearing floor, and 4b reet from front, which is altogether wrong, and no excavation is shown for cylinder of accumulator.  I got Mr Menkens to make provision in the floor for the two presses and if your pipes are not Cut to suit the places fixed upon, there will be some wild work with the foundations of the woolroom.  I hope you will arrange for the pipes to be Cut to length after the machinery is erected.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 14 July 1901.


I have to acknowledge receipt of your letters of 10th and 12th also Copy of Agreement with the Shearing Company and thankyou for the latter.  I suppose it is only human when a mistake is Committed to Endeavor to shunt the blame on to someone else but I am in no way Concerned about the action I have taken in regard to the catching pens although it is perhaps matter for regret that necessity for alteration of the original plan should have arisen.  No matter who is responsible for the pens being small the fact remains that 40 square feet of space, out of 120, was found to be taken up with architectural structures which left insufficient room for the practical working of the sheep.  To meet the difficulty I did, what no doubt you would have done had you been in my place viz. add 30 feet of Space, in the only way possible, by deepening the pens 3 feet. In doing this there was no alteration of any work.


The other matter to which I directed your attention viz. the omission to cover the outer walls of the shed so as to protect the sheep from wet, is however a much more serious business and the doubts you express as to a sufficiency of air and light being available if this is done effectually are, to say the least, very unpleasant reading.  The open walls are evidently not an oversight on the part of Mr Menkens because they were, with great skill and ingenuity, closely fitted with bails instead of studs and weather boards.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 29 July 1901.


The weather conditions for the past month, and I may add during the greater part of the winter, have been characterised by snow, cold misty sleets, and very little rain.  The rainfall for the past four weeks amounts to 53 points here, and 29 at Windy, making 9.24 and 6.89 inches respectively since Jan 1st.

Notwithstanding the paucity of the rainfall the country generally is covered with a light precarious shoot, on which the Stock are holding condition or improving, but insufficient rain has fallen to make anything spring over the north west portion of the Estate which comprises the two Denbigh paddocks -the richest part of it.  The Run is however very fit for rain, and a good downpour during the next few weeks would quickly produce a plentiful supply of Spring feed.  With the exception of Warrah and Borambil Creeks, there has been no addition to the surface water supply, and the wells as a consequence are still in use.




The Cattle are all depasturing on the plains, and although some of them might be benefitted by a more liberal supply of feed, no losses from poverty have occurred, and apart from the usual percentage of deaths resulting from tuberculosis, which disease I regret to state is now firmly established in the Gloucester bred Cattle, their general condition is satisfactory.  500 of the best grown Station Bred Bullocks are graizing in the Washpool paddock, where they have a plentiful supply of thistle and a fairly good growth of Clover, but the cold weather has been against them and very few have commenced to prime.



The new woolshed is rapidly approaching completion.  Also the yards and other subsidiary buildings.  In sinking the Well required for supplying this new establishment we had the misfortune to strike hard rock within a short distance of the surface.  Water is however in sight and I am hopeful of getting a sufficient supply within 30 feet.

Nine men are still employed destroying suckers and undergrowth on the ringbarked country.



Fairbairn to Gregson, 26 August 1901.


Although the month set in dry and unpropitious, I am pleased to state that the conditions have entirely altered, and we are now participating in a glorious rainfall, which appears to be general throughout New South Wales.  The fall since last time of writing amounts to 2.93 inches, but the rain has been light and general and the weather appears thoroughly broken.  The growth since the rain commenced has been marvellous and paddocks that were destitute of grass ten days back are now thickly clothed with feed.  I think therefore I am quite safe in predicting an excellent Spring.  There has so far been little or no fresh in the creeks, but the sources have been strengthened and the surface water supply thereby considerably increased.


Fairbairn to Gregson.13th October 1901.

Whilst in Murrurundi on Friday I accepted the offer of a friend to drive me down to Harbenvale to see the sheering. Young White was very enthusiastic over the superior merits of the wolsley machines. He said they had shorn 30,000 sheep with 20 machines and the cost for repairs had ammounted to 2/-. Their average tally is 80 per day and the work they were doing on lambs while I was there was perfect. Sufficient wool was left on to protect the sheep, no bare skin was exposed, no nicking and scratching, and no wash necessary. In the name of everything sacred, why had the company hesitated to use these machines?

Fairbairn to Gregson. 21st October 1901.


Shearing machines. The machines were started at Windy on the 7th inst. with about a dozen indifferent shearers, which number has since increased to about 35. The number of sheep shorn to date is 5661, consisting of 340 long wooled rams, and 5321 three year old W3 weathers. 151 bales of wool have been pressed of which 72 have been dispatched via Quirindi. 

The machinery has been working fairly well, but the men are a pack of red hot western country strikers, and Messrs Young and Co have in consequence been unable to make headway with the work.

They struck in the first place to have all stags taken out from the weathers which demand was personally conceded by you. A few days later they again struck for an increase of 2/6 per hundred, which they however eventually wiaved, but again struck work later on over an alleged insufficiency of culinary utensils. The utensils were immediately supplied, but then they refused to work unless Messrs Young and Co changed the shed boss whome they asserted had been guilty of discourtesy to their representitive, and now this outrageous demand I am informed has been conceded. 30 men are at work this morning but you will understand from the foregoing the sort of material we are depending on to get the wool off, in the face of grass seed ripening and staring us in the face wherever we turn.

Fairbairn to Gregson. 23rd October 1901.

You letter of the 22nd reached me this morning. I have telphoned Mr Ogden to sign the wool lists and accompany them with a letter of advice. As the time lost at Windy through loafing strikers was becoming insufferable, I requested the shed overseer to discharge all shearers refusing to go to work yesterday morning, and he accordingly did so, sending off ten of the most pronounced strikers. Since then 33 men have been working steadily and the places of the discharged men are rapidly filling up. I told him he could hold your offer of rations for men going through, as a trump card up his sleeve, but only to be used if advisable in his opinion. Bremma says the three year old weathers are cutting over 11 lb of wool.

Fairbairn to Gregson. 18th November 1901.

Shearing. About the commencement of the present month, I succeded in filling the board with hand shearers and replacing the mutineers at Windy with men who were willing to work, but to do this I found it neccessary at the later shed to concede half the cost of the shearers meat bill, and treat all stags as rams by allowing them two for one. We are now able to shear 6000 per day at the two sheds, and should have finished shearing this week had the nature of the weather not retarded operations. The total number shorn to dats is 112,000, 78,000 by hand shears and 34,000 by machines. This leaves a balance of 55,000 still to shear or nine days work. All the sheap are cutting heavy fleeces but unfortunately the work has extended beyond the season, with the result that the later end of the clip will suffer from grass seed. Messrs Young and Co. have been seriously hampered in the performance of their work by the disorganised state of the labour market, but after making every allowance for the worries and hinderances they have had to contend with, I would not feel inclined to favour the adoption of the contract system again. The machines so far as I have been able to judge have worked satisfactorily, but disorganisation amongst the machine shearers and lack of control generally have been leading characteristics of the management all through. 

The condition of the sheep is highly satisfactory and the lambs are well grown. 

Fairbairn to Gregson. 16th December 1901.

The new machinery after the substitution of a larger driving pulley worked very satisfactorily, but the packing press proved unequal to the requirements of the shed, redering night work necessary.

Mr A. C. Bramma in commenting on this, recommended the purchase of a hand press for two men, to assist the hydraulic press whenever necessary. Burgan and Balls machines appeared to give satisfaction but some shearers I spoke to complained that they became heated and ran very hot at times. 

This was printed in the Sydney Mail.
A Large Model Shed.
By the Mails Travelling Photographer.

When it comes to worker strikes, It tells a very different story to what George Fairbairne told Jesse Gregson. The truth might be in the middle somewhere?

From the Sydney Mail. 21st December 1901.

The Australian Agricultural company recently completed at their large station, Windy, one of the best and most complete shearing sheds in Australia. Windy is on the Liverpool Plains and is about 25 miles north west of Murrurundi and some 300 miles from Sydney. The shed and other buildings have been erected with special thought for economy in working and the comfort of the men employed by the company. The huts in which the shearers sleep are such that the shearers accommodation bill will be a dead letter on Windy, the accommodation being clean, spacious and convenient. The kitchens in which their food is cooked, is far better than will be found in many a home, and in every way the company could think of, the mens comfort has been studied.

The shed is very large, and the photographs which we produce convey some idea of it’s magnitude. It is 88 feet long and about 150 feet wide, and contains room on the shearing floor for 44 shearers, together with a wool room of about 100 feet by 80 feet. The shed is raised about 6 feet above the ground and is a most substantial structure. The timber used in building was obtained locally, and the work reflects great credit on Mr F Menkins of Newcastle, the architect. The large order for machinery was carried out from the designs and under the direction of Mr Houghton, M inst. CE Sydney, who acted as consulting engineer for the company. The shearing at Windy was especially interesting as it was carried out by contract.

On entering the shed, our representative saw  Mr E E Green, the “Boss of the Board” for messers J H Young and Co, the shearing contractors. He was as busy as two men. It was by 5 O’Clock before the camera was at work, but a good light flooded the board. The wool rolling and classing room was taken nearly an hour later, with excellent results. This is by far the best lighted and highest woolshed our representative has yet seen. The photographs and illustrations show clearly what the shed and machinery are like, therefore a very short description shall suffice. A view of the shearing floor shows a scene of great animation and the adjoining tables where the wool is sorted and classed is the most interesting part of the building. There the various qualities of wool are sorted and classed and prepared for rolling and pressing. After the wool has been classed and sorted it is pressed into bales by the hydraulic baling press as shown in our illustration. The bales after being weighed and branded are sent to the hydraulic dump press, which gives a pressure of 50 tons on the bale, and reduces it to very small dimensions. The power for driving these very large presses is generated at one end of the building, under the floor of the wool room by a horizontal steam engine of a very large size, and a three throw hydraulic pressure pump working at 1000 lbs per square inch. This pump delivers the water into a large accumulator outside the building, and the accumulator acts as a storage reservoir for the supply of water to the presses, pipes being laid to the latter. Adjoining the accumulator is the boiler house, which contains a large colonial type multitubular boiler, especially designed for the purpose. From this boiler, steam is supplied to work the engine, which, by means of shafts and belts conveniently arranged, transmits the power to the pump, and also to drive the shearing machines and attended gear.

The shed when 44 machines are going is a fine industrial sight, and the regularity which with everything works speaks well for the system of machinery adopted. The shed holds over 4,000 sheep under cover in case of rain. The big wool room is capable of holding over 500 bales on the floor and over 2,000 if stacked. The woolly sheep are nearly all around the shearers and the shorn sheep are sent down a shoot beneath and the shearer sees no more of them.

The visitor was very much taken up with the clean way which the daisy machines were cutting, although the sheep were anything but good from a shearers point of view. A chat with Mr Bramma, the wool classer, and a look through his record book, showed that about 60,000 sheep had been shorn at Windy for 1627 bales of wool, and that 26,000mWarrah bred 4 and 6 tooth weathers had averaged 11 ½ lbs wool each, also another lot of 13,000 weather hoggets had averaged 10 ¾ lb wool. A fair test on both shearers and machine. 41 men put through 16,800 in four and a half days, making an excellent average considering there is always a proportion of slow shearers in any big shed. In the wool pressing and dumping room, three pressers and one dumper were going hammer and tong. 73 was the highest number of bales pressed and dumped inside the working hours in one day.

The shearing is now over, with Warrah and Windy cutting out on the same day. Warrah shore 100,000 and Windy shore 60,000.

The company this year let all their shearing by contract to Messrs J H Young and Co, who report they have rarely shorn sheep with so much wool, the clip being far above average.

There are other sheds with more shearing machines in them, but few so complete as this one, with it’s shearing machines, hydraulic baling and dumping machines. The system of shearing by contract this last few years has made great strides in this state and in Queensland and many sheds in Victoria are following the lead.

Mr J H Young, of the firm J H Young and Co. may be fairly set down as the originator of a system the promises to be worked on an immense scale in the future. It was started about six years ago and now some three to four million sheep are shorn in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, the Windy contractors shearing about half this number.

The majority of good shearers are very much in favour of the system as it gives them a continuous run of shearing from February to December. They are thus saved a great deal of worry in writing and wireing all over the country to get a shed. Their run of shearing is mapped out for them and the overseer takes his team from shed to shed. Some of the Windy shearers started shearing in April last, and have been employed at various sheds until they got to Windy, thus giving the men a run of eight months shearing. No charge whatever is made to the shearer in getting pens, they are paid full rates for shearing and everything is done to save travelling expenses, each team being given as much shearing as possible in one district.

Messrs Young and Co. have shorn in close on 60 sheds in Australia, and, despite the large number of strikes and difficulties occurring this year in almost every district, not one strike occurred at any of their sheds.

It has been the aim of one Burgen and Ball limited to perfect a shearing machine, and they had expended £100,000 on the job, having had shearers and experts home every year to keep them posted of the latest shed news from around Australia where the goods are in great demand. Their manager, Mr W H Eyres, recently went home to report good news on the 1901 model, known as the “Daisy” and Mr James Hind, one of the directors of the firm, is currently in Australia, this being his second trip in the space of 12 months. The Burgon overhead gear and the Burgon and ball patent joint have been perfectly successful improvements. The Argentine is a very large market, where the machine is in great favour. Some of the largest sheds in Australia have been fitted this year with the “Daisy” machine, such as Messrs Blackwood Brothers, Hartwood. Thomas Walker of Gillandoon. W M Keogh of Warrana. Wilsons of Goonambil. G P Wilson of The Springs, Wagga. F S Walkiner and Sons, of Boonoke and Moonbria, and very many more very large properties, where the Daisy has given entire satisfaction.

Messrs Burgon and Ball recently purchased the business of Burgon and Wilkinson [late W Wilkinson] who are the oldest manufacturer of sheep shears, and are therefore the oldest and largest manufacturer of sheep shears in the world. One of their latest hand shears is Hind’s patent hollow ground shear, This is proving a boon to the shearer. In fact they have just broken the world record, one pair shearing over 3,900 sheep. The output for this line is enormous, employing about 1000 work people, making nothing but sheep shears. In the engineering branch, where the noted “Daisy” shearing machine is manufactured, extensive alterations are being made, so as to cape with the increasing demand, as the past year the works have been full occupied, both day and nights.

The contractors for the boiler, engine, and hydraulic machinery at Windy, were the Sydney Hydraulic Engineering Company Limited, who carried out the work in such a way so as to give every satisfaction to the engineer and the Company.

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12.06 | 20:33

What a wonderful story, enjoyed it very much.

06.06 | 22:53

What great history that now seems to be forgotton. ⚓🦉🐉🦂💙👑

10.05 | 15:31

Takes me back to wonderful childhood days visiting "Merrieton" and "Towarri". At about age 12, I thought Tony (aged about 24) was the most handsome chap around

06.01 | 15:43

Which farm did "Pop Mackelvane" have, I was there during the last part of the second war.

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