Our guest blog post comes from shearer and passionate wool industry advocate Tom Squires
This is Tom’s story …………
The sun sets over the wooden stockyards as the last sheep runs out the gate to join the freshly shorn flock. Tools are packed up and goodbyes are said before leaving the old tin shed and heading home. Another successful day.
Hi, I’m Tom Squires. I’m a 23-year-old shearer, born and bred on the coast of Tasmania. I grew up on a 600 acre sheep property which my family ran in-between other jobs. It was here I found my passion for agriculture. When I was young my teachers at school asked, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ ‘A shearer’ I said. So, you could now say I’m living my childhood dream.
At 16, my father let be buy my very own mob of sheep. 10 merino ewes and 1 merino ram. I remember the stress of thinking ‘what if the wool price somehow managed to get lower than what it already was’. The thought disappeared when I shore them for the first time. The smell of lanoline in the air and the fleeces floating onto the table. It was that moment I realized there’s more to farming than money. There’s that sense of achievement in seeing a fleece being packed into a bale, knowing someone will benefit from what you produced.
After year 12, I worked in shearing sheds. It was a brilliant opportunity to travel to other farming operations and gain skills in the wool industry. However, I wanted to grow my knowledge in agriculture. So, I flew to New Zealand and undertook a 3-year, Bachelor of Agricultural Commerce degree at Lincoln University. The depth of knowledge in Agriculture and how broad the industry is, took my breath away. Yet, in some ways I think this is an issue in itself. If someone who has lived in the industry all their life still gets blown away by how much there is to learn, imagine the thought of the people who do not know the industry. The only answer is education and I want to help.
Since University, I’ve returned to Tasmania. Whilst I got accepted for an interview from the Ruralco Graduate program, I declined the offer. A great opportunity but not one for me. Instead, I took up the handpiece and returned to shearing. Not long after returning, an opportunity to lease some land arose. I pounced on it like a hungry dog. Now to buy sheep.
There’s an incredible feeling of excitement as you hear sheep hoofs trotting down the ramp into your stockyards, knowing they’re your sheep. But the true thrill comes when you stencil your name onto your first bale of wool. I slept with a huge smile on my face that night.
The agricultural industry needs to develop in a way which makes consumers aware of the whole process and to realize the true pride farmers get from what they produce. It’s a long road to this destination but I want to be a part of the change. One voice, one education, one person at a time.
“Success is not necessarily a single, awe-inspiring victory. Small, bite-sized victories are just as valuable as the major milestones that you set out to achieve.” John Sanei
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