Shearer recalls fun of stints overseas

Donald ‘‘Dusty’’ Mould with his New York State Fair shearing award. PHOTO: GEORGE CLARK
Donald ‘‘Dusty’’ Mould with his New York State Fair shearing award. PHOTO: GEORGE CLARK
The year was 1978 and an 18-year-old Donald Mould had just left Canterbury University, heading home to Timaru for what he would soon find out was a globe-trotting shearing adventure.

Mr Mould, or "Dusty", as his friends call him, set off from teachers college after six months of having "perhaps a bit too much fun and a focus on rugby" to help his dad on their sheep and beef farm just outside Timaru.

He quickly realised the farm was not big enough for the two of them, and friend Nick Mulcahy planted the idea that he could shear for a season and make a lot of money.

Mr Mould agreed and four years later bought his first block of land as a 23-year-old in 1983.

Now in his 60s and sheep and beef farming in Cave, he looked back fondly at his 14 years of shearing travels.

"In the 1980s you could shear and buy your way into a farm, whereas now a lot of the shearers struggle to get a deposit to buy a house, let alone a farm.

"We were lucky, but there is no reason to say that kind of opportunity is not still around today."

Mr Mould’s favourite photo of himself with a nun and her niece at Oktoberfest. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Mr Mould’s favourite photo of himself with a nun and her niece at Oktoberfest. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

He believed he was lucky enough to work in an era where a person could gain equity quickly and stay in the property market.

Starting in the ’80s, Mr Mould would shear in the United States from the first week of February through to May 20 and then fly off to shear in England from May 25 to August 25, tour for a few weeks and then head down to Australia from September 1 to December 1.

By then it was time to head back to New Zealand for Christmas.

Every year he would fly to the four countries with one pack of clothes, leaving his shearing equipment to be picked up where he left off on his return.

Jobs came from word of mouth. Once on the road, he was part of a bunch of travelling Kiwi shearers.

A lot of the time his crew would end up at agricultural show shearing competitions and hear of work, say yes, and be on their way.

"In America, we had a camper van and left it in a lockup for nine months before going back and starting her up again.

"It was so good because you already had your camper bought. After putting in some new oil you could crank into shearing the next day."

A major drawcard for remaining in the international shearing game was being able to physically see the amount of money he could save.

Accommodation was a small expense; English and Australian contractors provided food and bed. Money kept building up.

"They gave us bloody good food and looked after us pretty well.

"All of our costs were just flights and beer.

Mr Mould shore in a New York State Fair competition in the early 1990s. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Mr Mould shore in a New York State Fair competition in the early 1990s. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

"Sure, we spent money on two weeks in Europe each year but it was not like surviving on a French loaf and a bit of cheese. We had the funding to eat well."

Mr Mould recalled a stint in Australia working 64 days straight with just one day off to attend a local show, then heading back to work for 46 more days before flying home.

"We were fit. We did eight-hour days mostly, starting at 7.30am and finishing at 5.30pm.

"Once you are set up and in that mode, it is home then a few beers, eat, sleep and go to work again.

"In those Western Australia towns, there is not much to do. It is about getting your mind around the fact you are there for work. And you work, and you work and you work."

While there were many stories to tell of his 23-year sheep shearing history Mr Mould wanted to keep some to himself.

Just one highlight was working in a Belgian feedlot, getting there on June 1 one year and shearing through to Oktoberfest.

"Athletes going to the Olympics will train in high altitude. We were in Belgium going to the Oktoberfest in neighbouring Germany, drinking beer for six weeks to train in anticipation.

"No-one could get near us. We trained every day after work."

He was grateful for support from family and friends, especially his children and wife Kate.

"I scoured the planet for 15 years looking for the perfect wife and found her back here in Timaru.

"All that travel and I did not even need to leave. It is quite funny how the world works."

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