Painter walked to his stand and connected the handpiece to the down-rod. He drizzled oil over the comb and the cutter, adjusted the tension and pulled the rope to engage the running gear. The handpiece buzzed and he studied it for a moment, pulled the rope again to disengage the running gear. Repeated the process with his spare handpiece. Filled the oil can and stepped to the catching-pen door, leaned on it and looked at the sheep in the pen. Lit a cigarette, waiting for Lew.
Western Australia, the wheatbelt. Lew McLeod has been travelling and working with Painter Hayes since he was a boy. Shearing, charcoal burning—whatever comes. Painter made him his first pair of shoes. It’s a hard and uncertain life but it’s the only one he knows.
But Lew’s a grown man now. And with this latest job, shearing for John Drysdale and his daughter Clara, everything will change.
Stephen Daisley writes in lucid, rippling prose of how things work, and why; of the profound satisfaction in hard work done with care, of love and friendship and the damage that both contain.