This year’s annual exotic sheep shearing day on Sunday, October 7, at Brian Hales’ Wimbledon farm will feature meat cooked in their traditional way from the various breeds.
A team of three cooks, headed by Brian’s sister Kathryn Willoughby, with Barbara Cleary, a geography and history teacher from Napier, and Joan Plowman, a hospital and community nurse who now works voluntarily for a number of organisations, have been busy developing recipes for the 12 sheep which will end up on the plate. All three team members have had a rural childhood and enjoy cooking.
“They all have travelled overseas extensively experiencing culture and cuisine,” Brian Hales said.
“And the team has held regular meetings in an effort to deliver the very best in cuisine for visitors to the exotic sheep shearing day.”
Brian’s brother Doug and his wife Sharron, from Nola Cafe and Restaurant in Waipawa, will crank up the old engine room at the woolshed and deliver their very best using exotic sheep meat.
Another brother, Nigel, will set himself up in the Shipwrecked Cafe where he will pay tribute to the Arapawa sheep. The Arapawa were the first sheep to arrive in New Zealand being delivered by Captain Cook, to be used as a food source for shipwrecked sailors
Other cafes will include the cooking of a Meatmaster sheep by Chris Baker.
The Meatmaster are recognised as the very best of eating sheep, with a big demand from Asia.
Alan and Ngaire Clarke with Dave Kerr from Daves Sports n’ Outdoors in Dannevirke will man the Shepherds Cookhouse serving a Mohaka stew and real billy tea and the Dannevirke Highland Pipe Band will not only play, they will serve a delicious Scottish broth and traditional haggis.
Working in conjunction with the Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand, Brian’s exotic flock has expanded dramatically to now include 21 rare, exotic or historic breeds of sheep. A recent addition is the Stewart Island breed, brought to Stewart Island from the Shetland Islands in 1870. These sheep were soon abandoned.
Thought to be extinct, a hunter rescued six of these sheep. Offspring of these sheep are now with members of the Rare Breeds Conservation Society who have now placed them in recovery mode.
They will feature in the Wimbledon shearing programme as the fleece exhibits wonderful crafting characteristics, Brian said.
“Likewise, the feral, Herbert sheep is a recent addition. Having spent 100 years of self management in the headwaters of the Waianakarua River, inland from Herbert in North Otago, these sheep are the ultimate of easy care farming,” Brian said.
Also added to the flock are English Leicester and Lincoln breeds. Historically popular, these heavy wool producers lost favour as the commercial wool trade declined. However, their wool remains in demand with the cottage industry.
This year members of the Rare Breeds Conservation Society will be holding their quarterly meeting on Saturday, October 6, at Lyn Charlton’s property in Dannevirke and will travel to Wimbledon the next day where they will pictorially display their animals and exhibit the fibre they produce
“The very best of my fibre-producing sheep will be shorn at the exotic sheep day by Richard Welch and Alan Clarke’s shearing gang,” Brian said.
“Neil Weggery will demonstrate blade shearing and as each breed is shorn there will be an analysis of quality and use.”
Admission and hospitality are free, but Brian warns visitors to be prepared for wet weather with footwear suitable for muddy conditions.