With his hand firmly on his mustering stick, J. J. O'Carroll
patiently waited for the start of his 68th consecutive
Hawarden Ewe Fair last month.
Not only was it Mr O'Carroll's 68th trip to the saleyards,
but it was also the 68th year the O'Carroll family had ewes
from their farm, Waitohi Downs, for sale.
As the punters filled the races and the auctioneers got ready
for a day's selling at the January 31 ewe fair, Mr O'Carroll
leaned against the rail and cast his eye over the sheep.
Many things have changed since he started selling ewes in
''The breeds of sheep are so different now. Sometimes when I
look in a pen, I have a hard time knowing what they are.
''Still, it has brought about improvement to the industry,''
In those early sales, most of the ewes were fine-wool
Corriedales, half-breds and merinos. He recalled when a line
of his ewes made the top price for the day - £14 a head.
''That was a top sort of a day,'' he said.
Another change is the number of stock agents increasing while
stock firms have decreased ''either amalgamating or falling
by the wayside''.
When his son took over the farm in 1982, the tradition of
selling ewes at the fair carried on and 200 to 300 are sold
While prices were not quite on a par with previous years, Mr
O'Carroll said the family was not disappointed.
''I enjoy the day out, looking over the sheep and we got a
All told, 7000 young sheep and 15,000 older ewes were
presented at the sale. Two-tooths sold for between $100 and
$150 and older ewes sold for between $90 and $130.
- Amanda Bowes