Shared values between owners and managers are at the heart of the successful sheep operation on Braemar station.

Story Kristin Wiedenbach  Photo Brad Sibley

Sheep shearing in the midst of a global pandemic presents new challenges, as the managers of Braemar station, in SA’s Mid North region, found out in April. Station staff weren’t even permitted in the woolshed – only the sheep, the dogs, and the contract shearing team of 12.

Under COVID-19 precautions, Braemar’s historic eight-stand woolshed has been converted to five stands to separate the shearers, and roustabouts wait until shearers go into the pens to collect the next sheep before gathering fleece from the floor. “So you’re not in his face,” says Doug Millhouse, wool classer and coordinator for Douen Shearing. 

Coordinating shearing teams from his home in the Adelaide Hills this season, Doug has made sure everyone has their own caravan or single room, instead of doubling up in accommodation. And Braemar managers Josh Sheridan and Leisa Breeding have provided lashings of soap and hand sanitiser.

It’s a new way of operating for Braemar station, the property at the heart of the extensive McBride family wool-growing business AJ & PA McBride Ltd. During the McBride pastoral company’s 100-year-old history, Braemar has seen plenty of military conflicts come and go. But a medical ‘war’ against an invisible respiratory virus spreading via handshakes and hugs is an entirely new challenge. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #131

Outback Magazine: June/July 2020